I wouldn't go pure lightning over a nova/blizzard if you don't have infinity. Infinity is what makes pure lightning powerful enough to run with, and enables a number of runs that you otherwise couldn't do. With infinity, lightning sorc is fine, but I don't think that's the best build to go with if you don't have infinity.
I understand that hammerdin and zealots are very powerful with good gear, but what about the amazon with good gear? Is it just as good? Not for farming, I understand that its probably not as efficient, but for pure PvM purposes is the amazon focusing on bow skills just as powerful as a hammerdin with equal gear.
Is hammerdin generally considered best with good gear?
Lets assume I had equal gear for any class, amazon, paladin, assassin etc.
I guess I should clarify my questions a bit. Im not worried about gear, I can get gear. Im looking for advice as to whats the most diverse and powerful class today in Diablo 2, given that they have the gear.
I guess Im kind of looking for a reason NOT to play a paladin like everyone else but still be able to deal with ubers and hell content.
Oh, in that case, let me backpedal on the sorc then about starting with that if gear isn't going to be an issue.
For ubers, it is true that a smiter is going to be the best build to deal with that. It's not the only one, but to be honest, I don't think any build is going to come close to him.
Some people do ubers with frenzy barb. I've personally never done it with frenzy, so I can't comment. I suppose it's possible to do with a kicker or wearwolf druid in theory too. As long as you have very high stacked resists, elemental absorbs, lifetap, and lots of crushing bow, you should be able to do it. Grief or Lastwish helps.
The reason smiter is so awesome is because you can also equip Exile, use holy shield, use salvation... and let's not forget Smite. These 4 things are going to make him better than everyone else.
As for hell content, your options open up. There are tons of viable builds, and many truly awesome ones.
I love wind druids personally. While they may not teleport the fastest and they have weird fcr breakpoints, you can do everything with them - duel, mf, whatever (except for ubers). They also have very, very low risk of actually dying because their health pools usually exceed 5k once you got good gear, and you can expect a lot more than that once you stack elemental lifer grand charms.
Lightning sorcs, blizzard/nova, etc. are all viable sorc builds that do fantastic. You can mf and clear every area in the game with these with ease - except dolls in baal's throne room will give you trouble.
200fcr lightning sorc is just ridiculous. You can't mf with them because you can't MF with 200fcr gear - but they are so ridiculously powerful.
Trap assassins are also very strong. I would say to do it properly though, you need 2 expensive claws, a good circlet and a 15% fcr craft amulet... so this is a much bigger investment. Still, you can also go more cookie-cutter like a hammerdin and use her for mfing and it will be fine too. She can be a very flexible character if you have a lot of gear to swap around between mfing, dueling, etc. I think a wind druid is a bit better for this dual-role though because most of the gear ends up staying the same... whereas it will drastically change in the case of the trapper.
There are many other builds that are also viable beyond this, but I don't think they are AAA builds. Whirlwind barbs with dual phase blades are really strong. Frostmaidens are really strong. Several other builds are really strong too, but none of them will match the power as the ones above 100%.
Of course, if you define niches, there are builds that are going to do them much better than the generalist builds.
Ask more specific questions and I can be more helpful... because after I typed all of this, I'm not sure how helpful I was.
Its looking more like Ill be making a paladin, I was wondering if having a hammerdin with 1p in Smite would be viable for ubers?
I think you can get away with it, yes, provided you have alternative gear for life tap, crushing blow, etc. Like, your skillpoints will be hammerdin, but you will need alternative gear to completely switch to a smiter. The smiter isn't good because of the skill points - it's good because of the gear, and how the skills make the gear better.
If this is what you want to do, you can probably get away with spirit sacred targe. At least you won't have to swap the shield in that case.