Customer Review

358 of 383 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why this lens. . . ., January 23, 2007
This review is from: Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S DX Nikkor Zoom Lens (Camera)
Reviewers below have already described how great this lens is -- I add my voice to the choir but wanted to write here about the decision process that led to 17-55. As others have also said, choosing the camera is relatively easy but choosing the lens (or lenses) is mind boggling. I spent the better part of two weeks researching online and going to photo stores. The 17-55 was barely in my peripheral vision when I started. Of course the first thing I considered was the 18-200VR. All the reviewers like it -- Rockwell was practically orgasmic -- and softly bashed the 17-55 as a heavy, expensive and overkill for most. I looked at many options and kept coming back to the 18-200 as the best all round but something wouldn't let me pull the trigger. And it's this: I like natural light. Many of my photos are references for painting, and I do a lot of portraits and some landscape. Getting the best color, in natural light is my highest priority. In amongst the 18-200 reviews there were a few hints about it being a bit dark at the 200 end (even with VR allowing slower shutter) and about "creep" of the lens when held vertically. I liked the possibility of a one-lens for all situations but began to wonder if I would get my use out of the 200 end without flash or tripod. Came to the 17-55 and dismissed it several times until finally tried it in a photo store. In retrospect, the reviewers suggest focusing on your priorities and for me the 17-55 made the most sense. I admit that I am partial to the simple feel of the lens -- phrases like "built like a tank" carry a lot of weight with me. I'm careful but do use the stuff. I also got an 85 1.8 for portraits so for the two lenses spent double the price of the 18-200VR -- not what I had planned on. But this selection focused the dollars to the heartland priorities and perhaps eventually I will bracket these with a 12-24 (third party) and a longer Tamron. The value of SLR, it seems to me, is to choose the options that match your needs.

Update, June 4 2012 First, thanks all for the comments. I'm glad this overview of the decision process was helpful. Now, about five years later, I can update and say that I love the lens -- love how fast it is, how easy to use, the quality feel of it and of course the quality of the photos. I am not a professional -- not even a very highly skilled amateur. I use the camera mostly for personal use, reference photos. But my photos of our kitchen (we just remodeled it ourselves) were high enough quality that This Old House used my photos in a feature they did on our kitchen. And the key to why the kitchen looked good in the photos is that they were all taken in just the natural light from one large east window. No tripod either.

I will say that the lens is heavy and the D200 is bulky with this lens (and I sometimes add a hood). I took this camera and lens on a trip to Trinidad, and found it was a challenge to lug it all around on jaunts into the forests. I was envious of other people on the trip who had cute little cameras -- their photos seemed fine (and of course we were taking these outdoors with plenty of light). I may eventually get a little camera for trips. I felt kind of ridiculous with the big lens and the Nikon, actually. And it was not the right match for this birding trip. There were folks with huge telephotos to shoot the birds and sloths in the trees. But a fabulous wide angle was just not that much of a brilliant match for what I needed to be doing here.

But very, very glad I got this lens. It is just very satisfying to use such a wonderful piece of gear. And my photos look like I know what I'm doing, even though much of the time I'm not doing a whole lot more than pointing and shooting.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 27 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 20, 2007 4:38:26 AM PDT
OILMAN says:

Posted on Aug 7, 2007 1:22:28 AM PDT
Hi Deb,

Thanks for you writeup. I was too in that situation about the over-revered 18-200mm VR that it's the walkaround lens, and covers much of the zoom ranges. But hey, I figured out that it's the image of the camera-lens combo is the most important and not the convenience.

I'm saving for one of my dream lens (others are 70-200mm vr, 28-70mm f/2.8)


Posted on Aug 17, 2007 9:51:02 PM PDT
E says:
You're awesome. I am going through the same analysis as you did. Was leaning heavily towards the 18-200 VR based on many factors, including Rockwell. But in comparing the picture quality of each camera (D80 came out on top) and now each lens, there seemed to be a palatable difference in sharpness. The 17-55/f2.8 clearly was on top. But there was something more than just sharpness that was different. You put your finger on it: naturalness and depth of color. You have taken some of the pain away of spending so much on a lens.

Posted on Sep 3, 2007 6:47:58 AM PDT
David Nims says:
Pay heed to what she says...I didn't...I wish I had seen this when I bought the 18-200 is soft wide open and vignettes at intermediate to 200mm lengths...I don't suppose I would have been able to spring for the entire price when I bought the D80 (3 weeks now) but I may have deferred the entire package and saved for a D300 + the 17-55mm...I'll use and enjoy the 18-200 once I figure out all the workarounds but I'll probably remain slightly unsatisfied and aggravated and where is the good news in that?

Posted on Nov 3, 2007 4:54:46 PM PDT
Big Fudge says:
Thanks for the insight. Your review helped me focus on what I need out of a lens. I bought the 18-200VR thinking I could compromise on speed to save a few bucks. But I returned it after I realized that I love shooting natural light, and a slow lens is a bummer. Plus, nothing beats the build quality and feel of the higher end Nikon lenses. The price can be justified easily considering the years of use it brings, even for an amateur like myself.

Posted on Nov 30, 2007 5:28:47 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 21, 2008 8:25:49 PM PST
Trial Critic says:
Hi Deb,

I wish that I saw your review right at the beginning. I bought a D80 with a 18-200 after looking at the Rockwell review and trying stupidly to save on the money. After about 3 months I saw your review and I bought this lens, I love it!! I pretty much use only this lens with my D80. I finally sold my 18-200 on craigs list. What a waste of time and money. I will heed your advice in future before buying my camera equipment.


Posted on Jan 9, 2008 9:29:06 PM PST
R. Leon says:
I'm in the exact same situation! 18-200VR or this one. This really helps a lot with making my decision. Thanks!

Posted on Jan 21, 2008 10:31:22 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 21, 2008 10:38:24 AM PST
D L says:
If your photos are as good as your writing I bet your portfolio is most impressive. One of the best reviews, wonderful writing style, and I am ordering this lens, too. :-)

Actually my lens-agony extends to the 60mm f/2.8D Macro and the 70-200mm f/2.8D Zoom-Tele too. What wonderful problems to have!

Posted on Mar 3, 2008 5:35:32 PM PST
D L says:
An update to the comment posted above-
Got the 70-200, but am having such a great time with this 17-55 I honestly haven't shot with the 70-200 yet! I have had no lens creep when the camera is in any position, and wow what a great combination with the D300, I am finally getting the pictures I've admired from other photographers, that sharp, rich look and creamy bokeh in the out of focus planes.
Deborah's review of the 17-55 stands and agrees with my actual experience.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 6, 2008 6:42:51 PM PST
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4.8 out of 5 stars (137 customer reviews)
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Location: Rochester, New York United States

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