10 out of 10 points and recommendedfast, sharp, light, cheap
I love this lens. I use it with my Nikon D300 and the image quality is great at all focal lengths. The autofocus is fast and the viewfinder is bright with this little guy on.reviewed December 26th, 2007 (purchased for $400)
I consider myself an advanced amateur, and I don't notice much optical distortion at either end. What little chromatic aberration there is at 17mm can easily be taken out with Lightroom, but I would only take the time if I was doing enlargements--on anything 5x7 or smaller, I don't think you'll see it. There is some vignetting, but that's also easily removed in Lightroom if it bothers you.
The two lenses I can compare it to are the Nikkor 50 mm f/1.8 and the Nikkor 18-70mm G DX.
It seems as sharp as the 50 and still fast, but you also have wide angle, and I'm not good enough to consistently get things in focus with the tiny depth of field on the 50 wide open (specifically when the subject is moving), so I usually have it stopped down to 2.8 or 4 anyway.
I got this to replace the 18-70, and I wouldn't think twice about doing it again. The extra speed makes it more useful for indoor things and I haven't missed the extra zoom at the tele end. It's a whole lot sharper wide open and has much less CA, especially at the short end of the range.
The zoom ring has just the right amount of resistance and I like the feel of the grip. A note for Nikon users: when people say in their reviews that the zoom ring is backward, it's not backward for Nikon users, only Canon users. I haven't had any trouble with attaching the lens to the camera--it seems as smooth as the Nikkor lenses (actually, it seems identical).
It didn't make sense given what I do for me get the Nikon version of this lens at three times the price and almost double the weight.
9 out of 10 points and recommendedfast, small, great focal length for portraitsclosest focus 3ft
I've used this and the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro in this focal length range, and it seems like the pictures with this lens wide open are a bit softer than the test results would imply, but I don't think that's a bad thing. This and the Tamron are about equally sharp at f/2.8 (the 90mm's max), but I love the softer images with the 85 at wide apertures. And who can complain about an extra stop (and a bit) for low light situations?reviewed August 4th, 2008 (purchased for $400)
This is a wonderful portrait lens, and it wont make your camera front-heavy. I haven't noticed the autofocus being slow or noisy (on a D300), but I haven't had much experience with Af-s lenses for financial reasons.
I don't think people would consider this if they're looking for a macro lens at this length, but if you are don't because it's not a macro lens. Closest focus is 3ft, but I guess you can't have everything.
9 out of 10 points and recommendedimage quality, MFD, cheap, fast,slow AF, no image stabilization, no range limiting switch
I couldn't afford the 70-200 f/2.8 VR, and this one is a bargain at ~$1000 less. It seems a bit soft at 200mm and 2.8, but sharp everywhere else. I tried the 80-200 f/2.8 nikkor, and this is probably sharper than that lens wide open, and focuses at about 3 feet as well.reviewed October 8th, 2008 (purchased for $700)
Speaking of focus, that's one downside here, as Lex mentioned below. It's kind of slow, especially if you have to go through the whole range (maybe partly a tradeoff for doing better macro than the name brand lenses), and every once in a while it seems like the camera is jumping back and forth past the proper focus. I don't agree that the AF is loud, though. It's very quiet on the Nikon mount model. One note: some macro lenses (the tamron 90mm macro, for instance) have a smaller maximum aperture at close focus, but this keeps 2.8 no matter the focus distance. I would like to have a focus range limiting switch to be able to keep it from focusing closer than 3 meters or so.
Bokeh is very nice. Image stabilization would be useful.
In all, not much to complain about. It's got the important things down unless you're a serious fast sports shooter.
10 out of 10 points and recommendedlow price, fast, great image quality
Don't hesitate here. This lens is the best value I know of and it's a length almost anyone could use. No complaints from me in the optical quality, and it takes up less space in my bag than my flash does. The complete lack of distortion makes for very easy panoramic stitches if you like that sort of thing.reviewed October 9th, 2008 (purchased for $120)
If you use a D40/60, you'll have to use manual focus as it's not AF-S, but I still think it's worth it (the autofocus sensor still tells you when it's in focus; you just have to turn the ring).