9 out of 10 points and recommendedSharpness (even at f/2.8), contrast, build qualityDistortion at wide end
I sold my non-macro version of this lens to fund the purchase of a Nikon prime, and it's the only lens sale I ever regret! I've now bought a new copy, and at least it means I now have the new macro version, which seems even sharper than the non-macro version I used to have.reviewed January 19th, 2007 (purchased for $511)
This is a great walk about lens for when you want to go out with just one lens, 18-50 is a sensible range on APS sized digital sensors.
Although it doesn't have USM, focus is fast and accurate - no front or back focus issues here. It's sharp - incredibly sharp by the time you get to f/4. Contrast and colour are both good too, and it doesn't seem to have the yellow cast that some Sigma's do.
EX built quality is good as ever - this lens is well built, and substantial rather than heavy (it's heavier than a kit lens but not a neck-breaker). Focus and zoom rings are both well damped and a joy to use.
The only slight downfall is distortion at the wide end, but that is easily corrected in Photoshop.
I love this lens - highly recommended!