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a worthy investment- Nikon 17-35mm?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by swmlon, Aug 6, 2008.

  1. I have been looking around for a while for a good wideangle lens for my D3. I have ruled out the 14-24 (for now) because of size, weight and lack of ability to plop a filter on the front (no i am not a fan of DIY on lens).

    my choices up to now were the Nikon 20-35mm f2.8 or Nikon 20mm f2.8. (two contrasting lens i know).

    i was leaning to the 20-35mm which i have seen for prices ranging from £300-£450. However, i have jsut seen a used (and in good condition) Nikon 17-35 for £590.

    Is this good value for money, is this lens better than the 20-35 (speed, centre sharpness and colour and my main requirements) to justify the price difference.

    any input on this would be appreciated.

    thanks in advance.

  2. pforsell


    Jan 15, 2008
    I am biased because I own this lens. It is excellent. It takes 77 mm filters but to avoid vignetting at 17 mm the filters need to be slim.

    Focusing speed and accuracy are good, corner sharpness is good, resistance to flare and ghosting are really good and the lens doesn't exhibit much chromatic aberration.

    This lens was long considered as the best zoom lens by Nikon. Now that title belongs to the 14-24/2.8, but the new lens has not replaced the 17-35/2.8 in the lineup, most likely because of the filter issue.

    This particular lens has a bad reputation regarding its silent wave motor. For one reason or another it seems (according to internet forums) to suffer from SWM failures more often than other Nikkor lenses. The first signs of a failing motor is a high-pitched "whistle" sound when focusing. Repair costs run in the $400 ballpark.

    Test the lens on your camera in all position and orientations. Point it straight up, straigh down twist the camera to portrait/landscape orientation and do full range (with lens cap on) focus tests. While the lens hunts, is it silent? If not, it might need a SWM repair.

    After all that, I honestly love the contrast, sharpness and color of this lens. It is my favorite zoom and I will never sell it.
  3. Shing,
    another vote for the 17-35. I always found its range much more useful than the clinical optical qualities of the shorter 14-24, which I DON'T like. You're anyway talking of a bestseller lens, as if you would be "leaving" a Viper for a Porsche... you're however on the safe side with that lens.
  4. AndyE


    May 2, 2005
    Vienna, Austria
    I have all 3 lenses in use
    AFS 14-24
    AFS 17-35
    AF 20-35

    From an IQ perspective - nothing beats currently the 14-24. On environmentally unfriendly trips (rain forest, sand, snow, etc...) I take without a doubt the 17-35 - Filter the main benefit. IQ is only in pixelpeeper mode lower.

    The 20-35 provides great value for money. I got mine in UK (ebay) for 250 pounds.

    My recommendation: Find one in good condition and be happy :smile:

  5. TimK


    Apr 17, 2006
    Hong Kong, China
    Shing, I have both the 20-35 and 17-35. I have been using the 20-35 since the days of the F4 and it was a great lens for film. I bought the 17-35 last year because of two reasons, first, I need a wider lens for my D200, and secondly, I have noticed some CA when the 20-35 is used with digital bodies. It is not severe generally, but quite obvious with back light high contrast situations.

    I am still keeping the 20-35 because it has been traveling with me to so many places and have never failed me! On the other hand, I think it also have slightly warmer color than the 17-35. I like it better when shooting people at close range.
  6. weiran


    Jan 2, 2007
    Nottingham, UK
    Tamron also make a 17-35 f/2.8-4 that works pretty well if you're on a tight budget. You should check the AF-S motor in the Nikon 17-35 before you buy it, as both copies of that lens I've seen have had the squeaky motor problem which eventually leads to that motor dying!
  7. If you want to use filters and dont need stellar wide open performence. I think its worth it, given you pay a fair price.
  8. thanks for the input. thanks peter for the advice for checking the lens is in tip top shape. going to have a look at today after work and if all checks out will be buying it either this evening or on the weekend.

    if anyone else has any other tips to look out for looking at this lens used would be good.

  9. I certainly vote for the 17-35/2.8. I had the 14-24/2.8 but went back and bought a 17-35/2.8 again because it is more compact & accepts filters. Have not used a 20-35/2.8.
  10. edsd3?


    Sep 13, 2007
    Cumbria, UK.
    You can buy this lens new in the UK for £870 +p&p.

    It's more money but less worry. See Martins Camera Shop

  11. PedroS


    May 4, 2008
    Well... one vote against the 17-35 !
    I was never happy with mine. Praising very much Nikon gear I believe it could be a bad sample. I know that there were very big sample variations on these particular lens.
    I have the 14-24 and it's the best wide angle you can buy, outperforming all my wide primes.
    It's big, expensive and hard to put filters (just see on other thread my solution to it), but it produces amazing photos.
  12. Be very careful with the SWM issue - I just purchased one on eBay, and was informed that it was practically a brand new lens, only had been used for a couple of test rolls, and then had sat in the cupboard for 5 years. When it arrived it looked in perfect as new condition, not a scratch or mark on it. Unfortunately it squeaked as soon as I tried to focus.

    I took it to Nikon in the Netherlands, and it cost me over €500 to repair - for me it wasn't too much of a problem as the seller contributed to the cost and I felt I still got a good deal, but from what I understood from the Nikon service center, it is a fairly common problem with this lens, and most lenses suffer sooner or later.

    IQ wise, I am very happy with the 17-35mm, and will not be replacing it with the 14-24mm for the reasons that others have mentioned.
  13. kgill


    Jul 25, 2007
    Yes, although there is a lot of discussion about this lens and the SWM failure, it is one that I say you might be best off buying new for the warranty, *unless* you find one that is priced so that even if you do have to repair the motor, it doesn't cost you more than it would cost new. I found mine new in the U.S. at $1040-- USA version. It squeaked at first but then after some use, stopped. US warranty is five years. At that point if I do have to pay the repair, it will end up costing what it would have cost at regular list price.

    Whether this is related to the motor or not, I'm not sure, but my lens did need calibrating, after which it was (is) perfect.

    I have not tried the others, but I really like the 17-35mm, and echo what Paul said.
  14. StephanieHelen


    Jun 9, 2006
    17-35! The 14-24 range on the D3 beckoned, so I reluctanly sold my 17-35.

    I wish I still had it simply because I wouldn't think twice about taking it everywhere - while the 14-24 is superb in IQ, it is wider so takes up more room in my bag, can't accept filters and every so often the hood falls off. The IQ of the 17-35 is quite close to the 14-24 in my opinion, I really like that lens.
  15. thanks all for the comments made. i had a good look at the lens yesterday, took some shots outside on a gloomy day in london, 17mm @ f8 and was blown away. the focus is quiet and fast (though not as quiet as my 24-70), the zoom ring was a little loose (to which i used to shave some £££ of the price). but most importantly, super-wide (for me anyway) is gonna open up some interesting shots with all the new/old buildings of london.

    just a question for the 17-35 owners out there. what aperture setting do you think produces the sharpest images?

    thanks again all.

  16. weiran


    Jan 2, 2007
    Nottingham, UK
    17-35 is a lens that likes to be stopped down. f/5.6 and slower.
  17. pforsell


    Jan 15, 2008
    Ditto for f/5.6 to f/11 for both sharpness and DOF. It is very good on film and FX at f/4 too.
  18. cotdt


    Jul 14, 2007
    Bay Area, USA
    on my copy, the AF-S motor broke. i'd much rather use prime lenses from now on. some say that this lens is better than the Nikon primes in the same range. well it does equal the 20/2.8 and actually beat the 24/2.8, but the 28/2.8 AIS and 35/2 are superior, VERY noticeably so at f/2.8.
  19. Can someone define squeaky a little more? I just checked mine, the motor sounds different than my 24-70, slightly louder with a different pitch but it's definitely not squeaky. Does this sound about right? Is my description typical, I hope:smile: I had to put my ear pretty close to hear it.

  20. pforsell


    Jan 15, 2008
    You'll know if/when it squeaks. Not quite "dentist drill" but distinct high-pitched sound that definitely does not sound "normal".
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