Actually seems pretty decently built, there's plenty of chunky metal under the plastic shell and the auto focus is quieter and snappier than I expected ( mind you this is a 'D' lens so we're using the focus motor and sensor of the D300 here). I used to have the more modern EX DG version which I thought was excellent on our old D70 Nikon; I expect with the lack of digital-type coatings on the elements that this lens will be a bit less contrasty and more prone to flare. But we'll see shall we? :-).
You'll notice there's still plenty of sharpness on the flower and at f11 the background could be a lot worse; none of the nasty 'doughnut' highlights you get with some more modern lenses (I'm looking at you Mr 60mm micro nikkor :-| ).
I don't think I'd use this lens to photograph jewellery on light backgrounds in a light tent though.
Let's try it with better lighting...
Beautiful really, especially as diffraction at this narrow aperture can knock back lens performance hard.
So let's open it up a bit, an obscure internet review has it that this lens in its manual-focus form is actually sharpest at f5.6.
A couple of background highlight points (between the roses) have a little of that hexagonal character from the aperture blades; not too harsh in this instance but could be an issue with stronger contrast.
Let's open it up a bit more and get out in the sun...
It took 4 or 5 frames to nail the relatively shallow depth of focus on this active subject but once again there's plenty of detail in the fur and a melting background; this is showing excellent characteristics for a portrait lens especially for crop-sensor DSLR's. I think for general photography I'll find myself 'punching the blacks' and pushing up the vibrance (sophisticated saturation) slider in Photoshop/Lightroom a bit but I tend to do that anyway.
And a verdict?
Well I'm using it and liking it and getting used to it's little ways, I'm starting to see a lot of that nice '3D' character that a good lens can give you. It's as nice in it's own way as my Tokina 90mm ATX macro; maybe that's a slight overstatement but hell I paid $NZ65 including postage for this wee gem...if you see one for sale in good nick and it's compatible with your Nikon, Sony (Minolta mount) or Pentax then you really should try it.