Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 AF-S
The 17-35mm was introduced in 1999 as a replacement for the venerable but outdated 20-35mm AFD. The newer lens was one of the first to incorperate Nikons Silent wave focusing motor for faster autofocus operation. It was also one of Nikons first attempts to make a lens for digital as well as 35mm film cameras. It incorperates no less than 3 aspheric elements and 2 ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements. Although quite a few lower end lenses use this technology now it was a big deal in 1999. The result is an optic that may be the best full coverage 35mm wide angle zoom ever designed! Most reviews but it barely behind the Zeiss 21mm and Leica 19mm as best wide lens period!
What can I say, this lens is a real winner. It's resolution at infinity wide open matches the 24mm f2.8 and 35mm f2 and by f5.6 is probably better.
There is only a slight increase in micro-contrast from 2.8-5.6 where this lens really is at it's best. By f11 diffraction is starting to show but not in a very significant way. At 17mm f2.8 there is a slight torroidial (Doughnut shape) focus shift a bit off center. This is very subtle and probably due to the way the very complex aspherical elements are arranged. All things considered the images this lens delivers are just stunning, even wide open the lens easily resolves 4k+, in fact when you sharpen the f2.8 images just a bit you can't tell them apart from f5.6.
100% Crops converted in Adobe ACR +10 sharpening.
The close focusing capability of this lens also makes it a very versitile option. It can focus to under 1ft making all sorts of interesting shots possible. There is a small amount of distorion but it is well controlled, straight lines render very well and chromatic abberations are almost non existant.
Flare is always an issue with zooms but the 17-35 does a great job of holding contrast and resisting ghosting.
This lens breathes the least of any still lens I've tried so far, in fact I'd say it's on par with most of the standard/super speed cinema lenses offered today.
Very nice, especially for a wide zoom.
Build quality/adaptability to cinema shooting:
This is one of the newer AF-S lenses so the focus ring can be turned outside of the focus range even though there is quite a bit more friction. A lens gear with built in hard stops (Zacuto) will solve this problem. It does not change shape when zooming or rotate the front element, perfeect for mattebox attachement. Otherwise the lens has an all metal, solid professional construction befitting it's photojournalist heratige. Sample variation and abuse do happen, buy from a reputable vendor that will accept returns. Some beat up lenses do underperform, if you can't return it, it's probably worth having Nikon repair/recalibrate it for you.
This is your swiss army knife, use it for wides, mediums, inserts, funny close ups anything in the wide to normal range.
Lets see I could buy an 18mm f3.5, a 20mm f2.8 and a f24mm f2.8 oops! I'm outta cash. Or I could get the same performance and 28mm & 35mm in one lens. Hmmmm. If all you have is a $1000 for a used lens kit the 17-35 and a 50mm f1.4 would be my suggestion.
Uncompressed Tiffs: (big 27Mb files, be patient)