>>No DX lens should ever cross the 600 dollar barrier. It just totally misses the point of
>>the cropped buget format.
It's a cropped sensor genius, not a cropped budget. So I guess all the third-party DX lenses that cross your $600 barrier are also pointless?
Yeah, the Nikon 10-24 at $900 is not 2x better than the Sigma 10-20 at $500. But people who expect that are just morons. The increase in price in higher-end goods is rarely commensurate with the value delivered --- that is the whole point. In exchange for $400 you get something that is highly unlikely to be a lemon, with color rendering that is consistent with the rest of the Nikon line, image quality that probably matches the third-party lenses in any one category and does not have the glaring shortcomings of the third-party line (inconsistent focusing and weird distortions of the Sigma 10-20, CA of the Tokina 12-24, atrocious corners of the Tamron 10-24). If this is not worth $400 to you fine, move on, but don't look for petty reasons to bash the lens.
By the way, a week ago it was possible to get this lens for $770 shipped after all coupons, cashbacks, etc were stacked on the J&R website. Their price has since gone up by $40, but I find 30% not too unreasonable a premium for a Nikon lens at least from a historical perspective. People were not complaining too loud about the Nikon 17-55 costing 3x as much as the Tamron 17-50.
As far as the absence of reviews, it is indeed somewhat surprising. My only explanation is that the pros are shooting mostly full frame now, and this is dropping down the priority list. It is not like this lens breaks any new ground, it simply refreshes a 6-7 year old design and addresses a gap that developed during that time. IMO this is completely different from the endless 18-XX steam of DX lenses we have been getting lately that seem to be driven by nothing other than marketing.