Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 17-55mm 1:2.8 G ED Lens (f/2.8)

Review of the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 17-55mm 1:2.8 G ED Lens (f/2.8).

Overall Rating:

Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 17-55mm 1:2.8 G ED

This lens is marked with a gold ring around it possibly signaling that it is pro-caliber. Whatever the reason, this is one of a few DX lenses to have a gold ring. It is for the DX/APS-C sensor format of camera and is very large, considerably larger than the Nikon Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 G DX VR lens. It has a useful full frame equivalent range of 25.5-82.5mm. It is made in Japan and is a 19 year old design. Lots of DX photographers replace their slow kit lens with this fast, high-build-quality lens.

This 17-55mm lens features internal focusing (which helps prevent dust from collecting internally), three ED elements and three aspherical elements. It has a modest maximum 0.2× reproduction ratio. Takes the monsterous HB-31 lens hood.

Performance

Autofocus is done by the AF-S motor which can be overridden when the lens is on the "M/A" setting. The autofocus is not fast, not slow. The manual focus is reasonable for an autofocus lens.

Optically, this lens is decent but, at $1400 USD, it is probably too expensive for what it is. It should at least have VR. It performs just a little worse than the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II lens in the center. Barrel distortion (0.75%) is obvious on the short end and by 35mm is converted to pinchushion distortion (0.5%). Diffraction has begun by f/8.

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center detail of 17-55mm at 17mm (2× magnification)
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center detail of 18-55mm VR II at 18mm (2× magnification) for comparison
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center detail of 17-55mm at 35mm (2× magnification)
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center detail of 18-55mm VR II at 35mm (2× magnification) for comparison
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center detail of 17-55mm at 55mm (2× magnification)
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center detail of 18-55mm VR II at 55mm (2× magnification) for comparison
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corner 17mm/6.3 (3× magnification)
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corner 35mm/6.3 (3× magnification)
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corner 55mm/6.3 (3× magnification)

It has a little color fringing on the short end and corner sharpness is only really great in the middle of the zoom but overall, the corners perform about as well as the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II lens. However, this lens is faster and slightly wider with a minimum of f=17mm.

This lens does not exhibit much focus breathing making live view focusing in the corners easy. It makes a decent lens for video though an on-camera mic may be able to pickup the noise of the autofocus.

Construction

This is a G lens meaning that there is no aperture adjustment ring. This means turning a knob on the camera to adjust the aperture. If used to having an aperture ring from using Nikkor manual focus lenses then this may seem less intuitive, but it gives greater control over the aperture and plus it makes the lens less expensive to produce.

The front element does not rotate making the use of a polarizer easy. The lens must be focused again after zooming. It focuses past infinity which is hard to explain.

There is no Vibration Reduction (VR).

Bokeh

The bokeh is just okay throughout.

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f=17mm f/2.8
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f=35mm f/2.8
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f=35mm f/5.6
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f=55mm f/2.8
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f=55mm f/5.6

Infrared

Infrared photography is not impossible but there is a very slight hotspot. It is usable for IR.

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f=18mm f/16
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f=35mm f/16
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f=55mm f/16

Specifications

Images

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Nikon construction legend

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