OK, I am a big fan of Macro Photography. In fact, I have a book about the subject and how to do it without spending a fortune just about ready to publish. But there are several high cost items that I have wanted for a long time. One is the Nikon Commander Kit R1C1 flash setup and another is the Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED. Both of these were recently advertised on a local Facebook selling page in Vienne where I live in France. I also picked up the Nikon TC-20E II Teleconverter that matches the 105mm, I usually avoid Nikon Teleconverters because they can be a bit strange about the lenses they work with, but this was at a good price, no end caps and a big fingerprint on one element but that can be sorted.
The 105mm has the reputation for being an incredible lens and, if it wasn’t so expensive, I would have bought one ages ago.
To be honest this is more of a quick look than a review but…
I have been using a lot of new glass this year, mainly Lensbaby and Laowa. Both of them take a bit of learning the lens before getting happy with it. I will write a general Lensbaby review soon. However, as soon as I put this on a camera I was amazed so this is here quicker than I expected. My advice is to forget the words and look at the images, if anyone wants I can upload a few RAW files for you to play with.
Notice that Nikon refer to these lenses as Micro-Nikkor not Macro, that is a strange affectation that is different to pretty much everyone else in the Macro business and has to do with Nikon having a Microscope manufacturing arm.
Focal length 105mm. Pretty much the standard length for a Macro lens, my previous favorite, since I first saw one in about 1980, was the Tamron 90mm Macro which is a bit short but worked well with the matched 2x converter. In fact I will be comparing it to the Tamron a bit in what follows as it I, to me (I am not a Sigma fan), the obvious competitor.
Aperture f/2.8 to f/32, I generally work around f/11 to get DoF without attracting diffraction effects I will have to have a play with f/32 and see what it is like.
Lens construction 14 elements in 12 groups (1 ED glass and Nano Crystal Coat-deposited lens elements).
Minimum focus distance 0.314m (1.0 ft.). OK but not spectacular.
Maximum reproduction ratio 1x, a lot higher ratios are available on the Laowa 15mm f/4 Macro or the Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x Macro Lens, for example, but 1x is a good working magnification.
No. of diaphragm blades 9 (rounded), nice Bokeh if you want to use it as a portrait lens.
Filter attachment size 62mm, bloody nuisance, most of my Nikkors are 58mm or 72mm.
Diameter x length (extension from lens mount) Approximately 83 x 116mm/3.3 x 4.6 in. Internal focusing so that is as big as it gets. The Tamron is 79mm x 114.6mm.
Weight Approximately 750 g/26.5 oz. The Tamron is 600g.
The above is the list on the Nikkor product page specification list, they miss out:
Weather shielding. What can I say, you need this if you are any sort of nature photographer, the Tamron is moisture proof and dust resistant.
Instant manual override. Let the AF get close and tweak manually. There is a difference of approach here, the Tamron switches to manual focus by moving the focus ring, the Nikon allows the focus to be changed but AF is still active.
Vibration Reduction VR. At infinity you get at least 3 stops of VR so if you would normally hand hold a 105mm lens at 1/125 sec you can hold this one at 1/15! As you get nearer to the minimum focusing distance this becomes less effective but is still wort having.
Pros and Cons
The Pros column
Pretty much everything is right with this lens, it sits right in the middle of the macro focal lengths, in fact get the 60mm, 105mm and the 200mm and you are pretty set up for 1:1. If you want more than 1:1 you need to look elsewhere.
The Cons column
Not a lot, and the rattle might just be my sample as I don’t know how well it was looked after. The lack of aperture ring is a big one for some people, Ken Rockwell says “G is not a feature, G is a handicap. G stands for gelded.”. I don’t really have a problem as I am used to changing aperture using a thumbwheel and it is unlikely I will ever want to use this on a film camera, no matter what people think in other fields Macro, especially when you are learning, loves digital cameras!
Stunning sharpness, fast, quiet focus nice bokkeh, pretty good all round lens.
I wish I had bought one years ago!