Considering that the Canon equivalent lists for almost double the price, I consider this lens a great starting lens for any photographer. It's fast and versatile. I use it almost exclusively for indoor (theater) and outdoor (sports) shots.
The noise is one thing I don't like about it. Combined with the relatively limited zoom, it's hard to get incognito shots in crowds or shots in the theater up close without being distracting. Manual focus is possible, but for most purposes it's not an option.
I got a pretty good deal on this lens because they released an updated version, but I think the lens is worth the price.