10 out of 10 points and recommendedImage quality is outstanding and handling is excellentHeavy and expensive
I will be brief, but this is the lens I pull out of my bag more often than any other. The quality of the images is excellent and VR allows me to work in hand-held situations where I would be forced into shorter focal lengths otherwise.reviewed October 21st, 2005 (purchased for $1,600)
I would also point to two other elements of image quality I find to be exceptional on this lens.
First, the color and contrast provided by this lens are very pleasing to the eye. Every lens has a certain 'look' and this lens has the best look of any lens in this focal range and is perhaps one of the best in the Nikkor line.
Second, the out of focus areas (bokeh) are also quite good. You buy a fast lens to shoot it wide open, and this lens loves to pay you back with great images.
The other thing I love about this lens is that it is compatible with AF-I (and AF-S) tele-converters and retains auto-focus and VR. With your choice of TCs, you can have more lens in your bag for about the same space.
A 1.4 TC gives you about a 100-300 f/4 that is as good at 300mm as Nikon's 300mm f/4 prime lens. The 2.0 TC gives you a very workable, but slightly lower quality, 140-400. That particular combination on an APS-C dSLR is like sporting a 600mm lens on a film SLR.
7 out of 10 points and recommendedAffordable with a wide zoom rangePoor handling
From an image quality standpoint, this lens is a bit better than the other consumer grade tele-zooms. Image quality is good throughout the zoom range, and improves as the lens approaches f/8. At the 200-300 end of the zoom, the lens shows an increasing drop in contrast and show more and more softness. The softness improves past f/8 to about f/11 but the overall lack of contrast and flat color does not.reviewed October 21st, 2005 (purchased for $299)
Now having said all of that, it is really not a bad lens. If you don't want to carry a heavy and expensive f/2.8 with you on vacation, then this is not a bad alternative. It takes good pictures if you stop it down a bit and stay away from full zoom. It is the best sub-$1000 telephoto zoom currently available from Nikon.
I do have a couple of nagging problems with this lens.
The first is that the manual focus ring is a mess. It is too loose for my taste to begin with, but the markings are the real issue. It does not have any indicator to show the focus distance even though they are marked on the ring. To further frustrate, there are no DOF markings.
Second, my lens creeps out if it is hanging from your neck. This is very annoying to me. If you put the lens at 100mm and point the lens down, it zooms. When you are checking frames on the LCD this is quite annoying because when you bring the camera back up to your face it is at a different focal length.
Last, the included hood is a cone style that is also not marked. It is a pain to install, but it will reverse on the lens for storage.
8 out of 10 points and recommendedHandy zoom range, surprising build quality, great valueNot quite wide enough on the wide end, and some vignetting, both minor
This lens is a phenomenal value with the D70 kit. It is light, flexible, and the image quality AND build quality is the best of any lens I have ever seen in a body kit from Canon or Nikon.reviewed October 21st, 2005
There have been some people harping on this lens for vignetting, and yes some of it is true. There is some vignetting at 18mm wide open and it is annoying. On the other hand, it is not nearly as bad as some have made it out to be. If you really want to work in very wide angles, you need to be using a different lens. This is a utility zoom lens and you need to adjust your expectations.
I personally think that everyone who owns an Nikon dSLR should have this lens. It is like that great screwdriver that just seems to fit. It is never perfect, but it is almost always "good enough" that you are glad it was handy.