Anything but standard....
Having got focal lengths of 16-35mm and 70-200mm something was missing.........err...oh yes...36-69mm.
In an ideal Nikon world everybody would own the 'holy trinity' of lenses, namely the 14-24mm f2.8, 24-70mm f2.8 and the 70-200 f2.8 VR II. For most people cost is the main reason that they don't own them as they are rightly pronounced as some of the very best lenses Nikon have ever made.
I have already reasoned my choice for the 16-35 f4 VR under that section. My 70-200 f2.8 VR I was purchased back in 2007 before the introduction of the VR II but it was the lens of choice at the time so one tick in the box!
Coming to the middle ground......At the time of choosing a lens for this focal range I found that most of my images were using the Nikkor 16-35mm - probably more than 90% in fact. I used the Nikkor 70-200mm for the other 10%, probably split equally between family and Landscape images.
So when choosing the mid-focal range lens cost was the first factor I had to consider. I had just moved to full frame with the D3 and that forced a change to the Nikkor 16-35mm lens. That was not a cheap decision. The thought of spending another £1400 or so on another of the holy trinity lenses was going to be hard to swallow in a short space of time.
I also felt that the frequency I needed that mid-range focal length perhaps didn't warrant spending that sort of money, nice as it may be.
Best kept secret?
So I considered alternatives and one kept on coming back......a 'standard' 50mm prime lens. Standard because its the closest focal length to our eyes natural viewpoint. Its actually slightly less than 50mm. There are different versions and costs but the basic Nikkor 50mm f1.8 AFD is probably Nikon's best kept secret. Cheap, a little over a £100, sharp as a tac and very lightweight. I had convinced myself.....
When it arrived I was amazed at just how small and light it actually was. No pucker Nikon Rear cover and no lens hood but neither are a big issue with this lens. Trying it out I was also amazed at the sharpness for the price. If you want sharp images on a budget this is a lens to look at.
It focuses fast on the D3 although it is a little noisy compared to the expensive lenses.
I love the fact it can be used for shots in low light with its great aperture range. f1.8 is a little soft compared to moving up to say f2.8.
Overall I love the lens and cannot fault it in any way for the money it cost.
Over time however I do regret not getting a mid-range zoom. There seem to have been more and more times when a zoom would have been really useful and stopped me taking more than one lens. One example of this was a recent Wedding where I ended up taking the 50mm and the 70-200mm whereas I am pretty sure I could have survived with just a 24-70mm. There are times when walking forward or back is just not possible! Like most things in life its a compromise....if I want the sharpness and the zoom range we are back to where we started with the Nikkor 24-70 f2.8 or equivalent.
Percentage time on the camera? Well its the least used lens which perhaps tells me something....Would I have used the Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 more, maybe....but I may have made the right decision after all!