|Vault Room, Century House Restaurant,Vancouver B.C., Canada|
As I've mentioned previously before, this is a terrific lens on DX cameras. The lens has a reputation for being razor sharp in the center, but with mushy corners. The corners don't matter on D70/D80/D90/D7000 cameras, so what you get is incredible across the frame sharpness with very low vignetting. Within this focal range, I would put the optical quality above any of the DX zooms, as they all tend to be weak at the wide end. If you had to choose between this and the Tamron 17-50, the latter lens is a more appropriate buy because of the the constant f/2.8 and the extra range. However, as well received as the 17-50 is, it's still not as good as the 17-35 at the wide end, so this makes this lens one of the very best if you want outright optical quality for a DX camera. It's a screw-drive autofocus lens, though, so you will have to manually focus it on a D5000 or lesser camera.
The focal range for the 17-35 is somewhat limited on DX, as it's equal to 27-53 on full frame. However, the only thing that you actually miss is the portrait length at 50mm; otherwise, this is the focal range that most social pictures get take at anyway. The variable aperture is a bit more annoying, as it's f/4 at 35mm... if you're used to shooting with constant f/2.8's, this can get frustrating when you need more light or shallower depth of field.
|Steveston Harbour, Richmond B.C., Canada|
On FX, this lens has a bit of a maligned reputation. It was often unfairly compared to lenses like the Nikon 14-24, or the Nikon 17-35... these are really different classes of lenses, and cost many times more than the Tamron. The key issue are the corners, as the center stays sharp on DX. With all lenses, but ultra-wides especially, the plane of focus is not flat, but curved. If you focus at a certain point in front of you, the plane of sharpest focus radiates out from that point like a bowl... as you move across the edge of the frame, the sharpest points of focus come closer to you. The upshot of this is that yes, it does make the lens weak for landscapes (if you stop down to f/8 you'll get reasonable sharpness), but in most other cases, it's not as critical.
Test charts don't mean as much in real-world shooting since most subjects aren't perfectly flat... unless you are shooting at brick walls all day long. In most cases, if you use the outside AF points (like you should), you won't run into any problems; its when you use the center point and focus-recompose that will cause problems on this lens. Likewise, distortion is quite strong at the wide end on full frame, but is only a minor problem on DX. However, it is a simple pattern, and is easy to correct, unlike lenses which produce the dreaded "mustache" pattern of distortion.
This lens recently went out of production, but copies can still be found on eBay for around $300. If you find one locally, $280 to $300 would be a fair price, but the range can vary as this is a less commonly traded lens. It's a great investment if you think that you'll go full frame... if you already have a D700, then $300 for a reasonably usable ultrawide can't be beat.
|Mute Swans, Richmond, B.C., Canada|