I have finally raised and parted with the cash and got this lens. All I can say is it was worth every penny the image quality and build quality are outstanding.
How refreshing it is to be able to shoot wide open and get sharp, well saturated results. This is a lens which performs at all focal lengths and apertures. Sharpness is not at it's best at f2.8 but is still very good indeed, and far better than the cheaper lenses I have used at any aperture. Color and contrast is also top notch the images I have obtained look so so real.
I have traded up from a Nikon 18-70 F3.5 - 4.5 which I got with my old D70 and initially put on my D200 body. Do not let anyone (including that idiot Rockwell) tell you that the 17-55 lens is not significantly better than such lenses - it is simply in a different league. To a partially sighted person on a pogo stick, the images may look comparable - but as for the rest of us......
Yes as others have pointed out, the zoom ring is a bit stiff - It will loosen up in time I think this lens needs some 'miles on the clock' to bed in. Oh yes and it's fairly big and heavy but that's the price you pay for performance.
Yes it's expensive but you won't be disappointed - it will bring out the best in your camera body. You need something of this quality to really see what cameras such as the D200 are capable of.