Promaster 70-300mm f/4-5.6
This is a super affordable (cheap) lens that covers an awesome zoom range and can even handle macro duties.
You can find this lens for about $100, new or used, making this one of the least expensive lens I have ever purchased and until I invested in dedicated macros or expensive fast-zooms, this lens was very popular at my house for many duties.
This lens still sees regular duty at weddings as my second shooter gets to capture all of the candids and we've found that this lens does a great job of that. It isn't too long that you'd need a tripod, but it is also lite enough for us to carry around all day. I even carry one of these in my camera bag when I show up to a wedding.
Maximum Aperture: f/4 to f/5.6
Minimum Aperture: f/22
Filter size: 77mm, just like it should be.
Other goodies: When it sold new it included a solid lens hood. If you're getting a used one, this isn't a deal breaker if you're otherwise getting a good deal.
This lens works very well in both of its advertised uses: long zoom and macro.
Optical issues are present, but acceptable if you aren't photographing a brick wall head-on.
The lens is too slow to be a portrait lens, but it is a nice twist zoom (not push/pull) with an easy to use manual focus ring out at the end.
Compared to high-end lenses costing several times as much, it loses the race, but that's what I'd expect.
What I didn't expect was how close the race is!
Compared to the 18-200mm VR lens from Nikon this lens is just as fast (f/5.6) at their maximum zooms, but the 70-300mm is 50% longer. 50% longer at the same aperture is an amazing statistic. Sure, the 18-200mm VR has VR, but who cares if it costs SIX times as much, it can't do Macro, and the 18-200 is a small-frame DX lens while the 70-300mm is a full-frame "FX" lens that will work fine on your film camera or the mighty new D3. For the cost of the 18-200 lens alone I could buy a nice D50, one of these 70-300 lenses and still have over $200 in my pocket.
Okay, let's give it another "unfair" competitor: the 80-200mm f/2.8D. Here again, the 70-300 is 50% longer, and at the short end 70mm is 12% wider than 80mm. Okay, so the 80-200mm f/2.8D is several times faster at f/2.8 but it is costs nearly TEN times as much as the little old 70-300mm. PLUS, the 70-300mm can do Macro, which the big fancy professional 80-200mm f/2.8 can't.
So, in summary, the 70-300mm lens loses out to the competition in speed and VR, but it stays in the race due to its drastically lower cost and added Macro capabilities.
Following are some sample photos to demonstrate the power of this type of lens and some general uses which will likely yield good results. If you shoot things like these, then this lens may be a good one to think about adding to your camera bag.