I am currently using a Nikon D100 & N70 with a Nikkor 35-80 AF zoom and Tamron 70-300 AF zoom. I am looking for a wide angle zoom. Please keep in mind that the D100 has a built-in 1.5x factor on the focal length. I know Nikkor is the best but has anyone heard anything about Promaster. I am looking at a 19-35 AF zoom.
Promaster is a house brand that's OEM'd from Tamron in most cases. I have a Promaster 28-200 I picked up at Shutan in Chicago that's the same as the XR zoom from Tamron. The price was right, and I have no complaints about it. If I was going to do it again, I'd purchase the one with the Tamron name on it, mainly because the resale value is <i>much</i> higher.
Personally, I'd recommend the Nikkor 18-35. It's an IF lens, and uses ED elements. I didn't do many image comparisons between it and the Tamron, but my feeling is that it was worth the extra money if you can manage it.
Perhaps things have changed with Ritz suppliers, but Sigma used to be the source of many of the Promaster lenses. The same advice holds true either way, Promaster isn't going to hold value very well compared to the equivalent lens from the "name brand" third party makers.
The Promaster 19-35 is manufactured by Cosina, who also makes the Vivitar, Sam Yang, and Phoenix version of this lens. If you take a look at all four of these lenses you will see that they look amazingly alike. The benefit of the Promaster lens over the others is the lifetime warranty.
I bought the Promaster 19-35mm f/3.5-4.5 ($250 USD w/$20 Rebate & Lifetime Warranty). I have only had it for a day so the jury is still out. But, I so far it seems like a decent lens. Bright, clear, and a fairly fast AF. The zoom and focus feel a little loose and free for my taste (about the same as my Nikkor 35-80mm f/4-5.6), but it is acceptable. The outside lens housing does tend to block the AF Illuminator but it still works, with the hood on is another matter.
I also picked up a Tamrac Expedition 4 backpack and a Promaster 6200 tripod. I think I may return the tripod for a Bogen Manfrotto 3405 Junior. Anyone had any experience with these?