Well after many months of lusting over this lens, I finally bought it and it arrived today. Here are my thoughts;
It comes in the usual gold Nikon box, but this time has a gold line around the top of the box to remind us of what we've got. It comes with hood, caps, and a carrying case. The hood is really quite large. As the lens focuses internally, when the hood is attatched, the length of the lens doesn't seem to extend, although it does a bit, inside the hood.
Compared to 18-70 DX, the 24-70 weighs a little over double, at around 900 grams. It'salso heavier than the 70-300VR by 100 grams or so. As I am currently using it on the D80, it feels a little front heavy, but as the lens is quite slim, it does make it a bit more comforable is practice. As far as size goes, this will really be a pain to fit into my Lowepro Slingshot 100AW when mounted on my D80. With the hood reversed, I can pretty much fit it into the bag vertically, with just the 35mm prime next to it. Not much room for the 70-300VR. Time for a new bag?
Between the 18-70 and 24-70, that little bit does make a difference. But not enough to make me regret going for this over the 17-55DX.
Lens characteristics; Bokeh is very nice, but being a wide to mild tele lens, it obviously isn't in the same league as a 70-200 f2.8 VR or an 85mm prime for example. Wide open, in a shot with a sunny day and bare trees against a sky, there is some purple fringing/ca, butI don' go around taking photos of trees against a bright sky, wide open, so it's not really an issue.
Sharpness is definetly a big improvement over both my other zoom lenses. Not in the same league as my 35 F2D at F4 of course, but not far off, which is impressive.
Focusing speed is also a vast improvement over both my other zoom lenses, which is nice. It really does give me more of a reason to keep my D80 as a backup, when I eventually go FF.
Here a shot of the lens next to the 18-70 and 70-300VR
One of the lens itself;
Some sample shots;
and 100% crop of the above image;
All in all, I'm happy, for now