17-35 f2.8 Nikkor Sample Variation?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by walterh, Mar 25, 2008.

  1. Hello I am in the market to get this lens. Just in case I run into a used one in
    good condition: Are there any known problems regarding sample variation? I heard
    that some of the recent extreme wides got same sample variation.

    Basically I know the lens and the reports about image quality. I will use it on
    a FF camera (D3 OK call it FX ^^). I need the lens soon so I will not wait for a
    possibly due replacement.
  2. Sorry I forgot - does anybody know a store that might have it in stock in the Chicago area - new or used EX ? (Or the 70-200 2.8 AFSVR since I got you on line now)
  3. I've had this lens for nearly 8 years. It's been great.

    As far as any problems with them, I can only think of one, maybe two problems that anyone has ever mentioned here on photo.net. I think both had to do with infinity focus.

    My own lens has developed the common whistle/squeak sound when focusing. It doesn't happen all the time, but is common and doesn't bother me.

    But, go for it! You should be fine.
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Yeah, mine has also developed the AF "squeak." I bought mine back in 2001, so it is almost 7 years old.
  5. Like Eric and Shun I've owned this lens about 7 years and mine developed an intermittent AF squeak too...as did my AFS 300 f4. But, overall my take is the 17-35mm is one of the safer buys for quality.
  6. Ah did you check if there are same sort of minute squirrels locked in there? Hmm this is a wide angle lens so there should be little space available. Must be for technical reason then. :)
  7. Walter,

    mine too has an occasional AF squeak but this in itself is nothing to worry about.

    The only other slight issue with my sample is a slight corner softening - that also occurs intermittently, but this has never caused me to regret getting this lens.

    If you're interested in my experiences (on film and DX) see here:


    When you find a secondhand lens you like the look of it's always worth a look on Roland Vink's site to check out the age (by entering the serial number).


    All the best.
  8. My copy is 5 years old with AFS squeak also, but not all the time. She is the keeper and it will wait for affordable FX body some day in the future. Optically top notch.
  9. Hi Walter,

    Mine is not quite two years old, is mechanically perfect and optically I find it first rate on the D3. I am fussy about lenses and I find myself unable to criticise this one in any material way.

    Can't say I recall hearing much negative press about it either.

    Good luck,

  10. Thanks for the info.
    I just ordered one from KEH. The difference in price between new and used was low so I went for a new one.
    Rumors are that the lens might be replaced soon but 1) these are rumors and 2) I want to shoot and use the lens.

    I still hold onto my old 35-70mm f2.8 Nikkor. It served me well and will be a perfect match. The new 24-70 sure covers more range but also covers more cash.
  11. I have a cautionary tale: I love this lens model, but it took me 3 tries to get a new copy with
    the excellent properties most people experience. I was probably just unlucky. Purchased new
    about 1.5 years ago, the first two copies had a variety of issues and were replaced one after
    the other by Nikon. The third copy was "just right" and is now a favorite lens. Nikon was good
    about this, and I ultimately got a great lens, but you should be prepared to test even a new
    lens carefully at all apertures, focal lengths and distances of focus. There is sample variation
    in any manufactured consumer item. My experience may be rare, but it's up to you to carry
    out the last step of quality control, and to assure you get a copy within specs.
  12. Timothy do you remember exactly what kind of problem did you encounter?
  13. The two defective copies I received had distinct problems. The first had tremendous CA
    and did not focus in the same plane on L vs R side. Possibly a decentered element? The
    second was just plain unable to produce sharp focus, either manually or auto. They were
    tested on my D200 and a film FM3a, both of which are fine with a collection of other Nikon
    lenses. Again, this was a warranty purchase, and Nikon dealt with this well. It takes a
    while for them to test the returned lens, of course, to make sure the problem really is with
    the lens, and not the camera or "pilot error." Unlikely you'll encounter the same problems,
    but my point was that one needs to test even the "professional" quality lens lines from any
    manufacturer, however deservedly great the reputation of the model. Modern zooms are
    so complex, it's a wonder that the majority are made so well. If you have some kind of
    warranty or test period, you don't have anything to worry about.
  14. Just got my 17-35 last week and love going out and finding things to shoot. This two days ago, a little PS in LL corner to get rid of some tree branches. I love it.
  15. Hmmm. Pic didn't show uo. Try again...
  16. Thanks Timothy for the details. Yes I will test the lens. I will be on a trip but have a small Gitzo tripod with me. Building for test shots will be plenty in Chicago so I will have fun to shoot and test at the same time.

    The lack of numerous complains is a good sign. Thanks everyone for your time to comment.
  17. I bought an very early sample years ago which turned out to be unsharp on the right side of the image until closed down to f 8/f 11. Probably difference in the focus plane on the right vs left side.
    It took Nikon in Sweden six months to come around and exchange the lens. In the end they did.
    The replacement lens with a much later serial number turned out to be perfect.
    When the 17-35 first became available conventional wisdom had that you must cherrypick this lens to get a good one... I think Bjorn Rorsletts review from those days tells a similar tale.


    Karl Johan
  18. Do you guys see this lens being replaced anytime soon? I would think that Nikon would first update a few of its primes and lenses like the 70-200 (for FX purposes) first before updating this lens. Moreover, since they have the 14-24 and the 24-70 available, they might give this lens a pass for another couple of years.

  19. On the contrary - Nikon might stop production. Given the current line of zoom lenses with 14-24 and 24-70 70-200 I see it not as likely that Nikon will put in a new 17-35 lens.
  20. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    With the introduction of the 12-24 and 24-70, I am somewhat concerned that the 17-35 may be discontinued. In fact, it is possible that production has already stopped for good but they are selling remaining stock.

    There is clearly a lot of overlap among those lenses. Personally I would like to get a 14-24mm soon, but something so wide is kind of a specialized lens for a few. The 17-35 is a far more useful range for most people. Hopefully Nikon is not discoutinuing it, but I don't see them updating it any time soon.
    There are much higher priorities in Nikon's lineup.
  21. Thanks Walter and Shun. Walter, my take is that 17-35 is being used for photo-journalism and so it might be a more useful range for that purpose. I bought the 14-24, but returned it. As Shun says, the range was too narrow for me and the 14mm although fun to use, has limited appeal for a lot of us. I wish they could have made a 20-70/2.8 (wishful thinking!!!) in which case I would have happily bought it. But the 24-70 is just not wide enough for me (while is 14-24 is too wide). I think I will just get the 17-35 and combine that with the 35-70/2.8 (which I own and love as its image quality is stellar). I am not really into pixel peeping and thus these two should keep me more than happy.

    Thanks again for your responses.
  22. Nikhil the world is full of compromise. This is the setup I use as well - the 17-35 and the old 35-70mm Nikkors. I like both lenses a lot but sometimes I just "fall" between the two lenses and wish I had the 24-70^^.

    It is a good thing to have a wish left - live would be boring otherwise. And there are worse things in the world than that one has to live with such a compromise^^.

    In terms of IQ both lenses are very good and I was either lucky with my 17-35 or the sample variation problems are solved. It is my impression that the latter is very likely because this lens is very "mature" by now.
  23. Agreed Walter. I just got my 17-35/2.8 and am a little disappointed with the sample. The lens is really soft at F2.8 and F4.0 and particularly so at 17mm and 20mm. Moreover the left side of the photos seems sharper than the right side. I guess some elements are decentered. I plan on returning it and just getting the 24-70 for now and maybe a prime for wide. I feel the 24 might do for 90% of my work, but for the remaining 10%, I would need a wider lens. Any suggestions for a prime WA lens? I don't need a fisheye perspective.

    Time to put my 35-70 too on ebay. I love that lens, but can't rationalize having a 24-70 and a 35-70...
  24. Oh man...
    I just got an F4s, and im about to get a D700. I was crazy about this lens.
    I dont really know what to think now. Is performance wide open THAT dissapointing? Ive read a lot of reviews and most say the same things about sample variation. What are your experiences guys? Personally, I dont think there is any point in paying for a 2.8 lens that cannot produce acceptably sharp images wide open.
    I know all lenses are softer wide open than they are stopped down, but from what ive seen and read the results of this lens wide open are unacceptable.
    I really want to like this lens, but as of today, im having a hard time. I dont know if my dealer will be kind enoigh to send the lens back for a replacement god knows how many times, and im afraid I might end up with and excesively soft sample.
    Can someone provide 100% center and corner crops at 2.8, 4.0 and 5.6? It cant take more than 3 minutes and I know it would certainly help me and who knows how many others who want to get this lens.
    Thanks in advance!

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