Nikkor 17-55 Lens Review

Nikkor 17-55 Lens Review

“A lens that makes a difference”

nikon nikkor 17-55

After one year with my trusty D80 I finally jumped and got this lens.
I have to tell you that probably some of you will argue that for less money people can get a f/2.8 Tamron (click here:Tamron SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 Di II LD Aspherical (IF) Lens with hood for Nikon-D DSLR Cameras) or a f/2.8 Sigma (click here: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM Macro Lens for Nikon DSLR), but such comparisons are completely off track.

First of all, a $800 difference it’s not just marketing. It is reflected by a totally different image quality, a better build (metal and sealing), the speed of the AF system and the overall feeling of holding a real pro lens.

Secondly, the Tamrons I was contemplating into buying all had some problems with flash overexposure on TTL and TTL BL modes on my SB800 + D80 combo. I am not quite sure why it happened with the Tamron, but I have no such problems with the DX 17-55. Moreover, Tamron has inferior AF speed and this can be observed especially in lowlight. Try focusing with the 17-55 in ambiental light from a 60W light bulb and you will have no problem. Then try the same with a Tamron and you will.

Another thing that is annoying is the CA I’ve noticed with the Tammy, even when the lens was stopped down. I personally hate strong CA because it makes my photos look very P&S-like.

However, the 17-50 Tamron is a good contender and may be an option for anyone on a tight budget. Please keep in mind that I saved for the Nikkor and I got it actually one year after my first decision, but I believe the waiting was worth every penny.

Now back to the 17-55DX:
My experience with it is connected to a D80 camera.
The lens is very, very, very sharp, even wide open at 2.8. It is almost too sharp at f5.6 which should make you never use the in-camera sharpening at other setting than normal and this may create some problems for portraiture work if you will like, for example, to soften a bit some undesirable details on your model’s face… The sharpness is due mainly to the superb optics of the lens but also to the excellent microcontrast this lens is able to render. The overall microcontrast translates into very natural-looking images and excellent rendition of difficult hues and tones as skin tones have (for example).

Under direct bright sun, it tends to exhibit a slight magenta cast but this is easily correctable either with a filter or by postprocessing (pp) when using raw (NEF) files. I’m not sure if this is due to the lens alone or – more probable – the lens + antialising filter + sensor of the D80, so results may be different with other nikon cameras. The lens is quite obviously coated for neutral gray rendition on a 6000K color temperature, the one you will get with flash, for example. BTW, it is a good ideea to use manual white balance on 6000K when using D80 + 17-55DX + SB800 and A mode on the flash. I got best results with these settings.

Also about camera settings, the 17-55DX is a very contrasty lens so this may give you some hard times when shooting jpegs on a bright sunny day with huge image dynamics. My advice is to set your camera tone settings on low or lowest (-1 or -2) and mode I or III sRGB. No problem on raw as dynamics could be corrected in Capture NX. These issues are nonexistent with filtered or diffuse light (cloudy, diffusers etc).

Overall, this lens makes for each penny you spend with it. It has a superb build quality which will impress you from the first moment you’ll hold it in your hands, excellent sharpness, color rendition and image quality that equals the actual scene characteristics in naturalness and color. It is environmentally sealed (internal and at the flange with a rubber ring), the AF runs extremely fast and it is a good investment in a superb optical system.

More Nikon 17-55mm Reviews from Amazon:

Check out for more reviews of Nikon’s 17-55mm, it has more consumer reviews and reports than any other site online:

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Nikkor 17-55 Lens Review By Music Eater
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