My first digital SLR was a Pentax K100D with the 18-55mm and 50-200mm. I hated the 18-55 because it was slow, built like it came from Toys 'R Us, had horrible vignetting at 18mm, and was slow (did I mention slow?). The 50-200 didn't even leave the bag often enough to provoke my scorn, though I'm sure I would have hated that too. When I move to Nikon with my D200, I planned to never buy a cheap zoom again. I had visions in my head of a system built solely of fast, sharp primes. It was wonderful. However, now that I have the D200 and only the 50mm f/1.8, things are less rosy. 50mm is irritating for most of my shooting (though it will be great once I get some portrait stuff going), but I can't afford a 35mm, an 85mm, and a 20mm all at once to get my system going. With this in mind (and my prime tail between my prime legs), I am considering picking up a cheap zoom. At first I thought something like the Tamron 17-35 f/2.8-4 might be nice, since wide to normal is 99% of my shooting and it would leave the 50mm for light telephoto and portraits. I'm also hearing great things about the Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5, which does cover that last 1% of my shooting past 35mm (though the 50mm already does that to some extent). It looks like the Nikon really struggles with vignetting, which was one of the things I hated about my Pentax lens (although now I know how to control it). It's also slower than the Tamron (another pet peeve from my zoom days of yore, though I know I shouldn't use them wide open), and produces a little more distortion at the wide end. They're both very sharp for zooms. I guess I'm not seeing the magic of the 18-70 on paper. Am I missing something? I guess the range is an improvement, but it doesn't seem like it performs all that well. Is it really a cut above a normal kit zoom, or is it just a little faster and a little longer? Also, for some laughs, read what Ken Rockwell has to say about the 18-70 and his thoughts at the bottom on how superior everything Nikon is to everything else. Somehow saying a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 is like a Hyundai with more radio presets to a Nikon 55-200 f/4.5-5.6's Mercedes seems a little off . . .