This lens comes from a time when the "trilogy" of the "must-have" zoom lenses were
20-35mm f/2.8D AF
35-70mm f/2.8D AF
80-200mm f/2.8D AF
JRP's verdict of this lens
JRP, my dear partner at Nikonians and the community's co-founder, has the following to say about his 35-70:
"As you can see on the image below, it is a sharp lens and images are rendered contrasty and with warm colors. It has worked for me nicely for landscapes and portraits on film cameras. Later, I've also used it on both digital DX and FX bodies. Seldom used the macro settings though. But, that has to do with my preferences for subjects, not with the capabilities of the lens."
F4Eman, Gord from Canada, on the Nikkor AF 35-70/2.8
Nikonian F4Eman has the following to say about this lens:
I had this lens in my lineup for about 8 years during the daily grind as a newspaper shooter, and despite the abusing conditions I never had a single issue with it. I can certainly back up the claims that it is a very well built lens.
The only complaint I had, was on the rare occasion I wanted to focus manually, I found it a bit too loose and imprecise. No issues with autofocus though, which was accurate and reasonably quick.
Although the macro feature is quite limited (it engages at 35mm only) it actually worked quite well and I found it really handy to have some macro ability on hand for emergencies without having to pack extra gear.
Overall it's an impressive lens, and a great value these days.
blw, Brian from the US, on this lens
Brian is a long term team member and has the following to add:
This is a fully professional lens, delivering professional-caliber results. Of course, it performs miserably at, say, 24mm :-)
The main disadvantages of this lens are:
It's only 35-70, which by modern standards isn't a very wide range.
The front element (and more importantly, the filter threads) rotate while focusing. This slightly (marginally, in my opinion) inconveniences the use of a polarizer, and fairly considerably compromises the use of graduated ND filters.
Compared to kit lenses such as the 18-55's or even a 24-85 FX, it's a bit heavy for its size, but that's probably balanced by the solid, all-metal construction.
It's not an AFS lens, so no focusing motor and therefore no AF on D3000/5000 or some other low end bodies that also don't have a focusing motor.
It's not an AFS lens, so no manual override of focus.
It's not a ring motor AFS lens, so focus speed is not as quick as it could potentially be. Having said that, I had this lens for many years, and I never missed shots due to the allegedly "agonizingly" slow focusing. In fact, I routinely was able to get it to track go-karts from only a couple of feet distance (therefore very high focus rate slew), as well as pro-level motorsports, as well as active 3-year-olds and sheepdogs. Yes, it could be faster (the 24-120, 24-85, 24-70 and 28-70/f2.8 are all notably faster) but I put that in the same category as the difference between a Porsche 911's top speed at 155mph compared to my car's top speed of "only" 130mph. Yeah, I have had my car at track days a couple of time, and it would definitely have been nice to be faster, but I've also had my car for 15 years and I'm fairly happy to have saved a very large chunk of change on the purchase price.
The advantages are minimal in number, but pretty compelling:
IQ may not be quite as good as the best available, but it's pretty darn good. Probably these days it's down to an A-.
It's very resistant to flare, although in that situation it's subject to a bit of ghosting and lost contrast. A far better performance than, say, the 60/f2.8 AFS Micro-Nikkor, which despite nano-crystal coating, is terribly subject to highly visible flare. Also better than, although not by as wide a margin, the 24-70/f2.8 AFS.
Its price/performance ratio is among the very best, with a sub-$400 price (sometimes under $300) combined with excellent image quality.
Robsb, Robert from the US, on the Nikkor 35-70
Like all the other users I am a big fan of the 35-70 f/2.8 D. I have used mine on a D200, a D700 and now a D810. It is built like a tank and is a lot more compact than a 24-70. It is unlikely you will find a better lens for the price. I stole mine, when I bought a mint copy from the very last production run for $266. I will most likely never sell it.
If you are into getting yourself a very capable, inexpensive Nikkor lens at this focal range, the Nikon 35-70mm/2.8D is a very good choice.