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Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G ED IF VR Micro Lens

Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G ED IF VR Micro Lens - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the close focusing Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF VR Micro Lens.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Nikon AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G Micro IF-ED
Price : £629
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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Nikon Nikkor AF S 105mm Micro Lens (5)

This Micro lens from Nikon, was the first of it's kind to include vibration reduction when it was introduced. It sports a fast f/2.8 maximum aperture, a silent wave focusing motor, which allows full time manual focus override and Nikon's Nano Crystal anti-reflective lens coatings. Life size magnification is possible at the lens' closest focus distance and is costs around £620.

Nikon AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G Micro ED Handling and Features

Nikon Nikkor AF S 105mm Micro Lens (4)

Being one of Nikon's 'gold ring' lenses, the build quality is excellent, with a combination of metal an high quality plastics used for much of the lens barrel. For it's size and focal length, this lens feels heavier than you might expect at around 720g, even so it balances well on the Nikon D600 body used for testing. The lens mount is metal and sports a rubber gasket, designed to prevent the ingress of dust and moisture via the lens mount, although Nikon appear to make no claims about the weather resistance of the lens.

A silent wave motor powers autofocus and it obtains focus very quickly at normal distances. Manual adjustments can be applied at any time via the narrow focusing ring closest to the lens mount, which will be especially useful when exploiting the close focusing capabilities of this lens. The manual focusing action is smooth and well damped, which makes fine adjustments easy to apply.

Nikon Nikkor AF S 105mm Micro Lens (3)

Closest focus distance is 31cm, and focusing is performed internally, so the 62mm filter thread does not rotate, which makes this lens ideal for use with graduated filters and polarisers. The maximum aperture of the lens automatically adjusts as the lens focuses closer to ensure accurate flash exposures at close distances. A useful focus limiter switch is provided for using the lens focused at distances of over half  a metre. This improves the speed of focusing as the lens cannot hunt through the entire focus range.

Nikon's Vibration Reduction system promises to allow hand held shooting at shutter speeds slower than the usual rule of thumb for sharp hand-held photos might allow. With care and at normal focusing distances, sharp hand held shots are possible at shutter speeds as low as 1/13sec around half the time, which is around three stops slower than would normally be possible. The effectiveness of the VR system declines as you focus closer though, so there will still be no real substitute for a proper support when shooting macro images.

Nikon Nikkor AF S 105mm Micro Lens (6)

Nikon AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G Micro ED Performance

Sharpness is already excellent in the centre of the frame at maximum aperture and clarity towards the edges of the frame is very good. Stopping down improves performance across the frame, with peak sharpness being achieved at f/5.6, where clarity is outstanding across the frame.

MTF @ 105mm
MTF @ 105mm

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D600 using Imatest.

Levels of chromatic aberrations are well enough controlled with fringing just exceeding half a pixel width at apertures faster than f/4. This low level of fringing should pose few issues, even in large prints, or harsh crops from the edges of the frame.

CA @ 105mm
CA @ 105mm

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D600 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is well controlled. At f/2.8 the corners are 1.84 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down to f/5.6 or beyond.

Distortion is very well controlled, with Imatest only able to detect 0.34% barrel distortion. This low level should pose few issues and as the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, it should be relatively easy to correct in image editing software afterwards.

A deep circular hood is provided with this lens, which does an excellent job of shielding the front element from extraneous light that may cause issues with flare. Thanks to Nikon's Nano Crystal coatings, the lens retains excellent contrast when shooting into the light also.

Nikon AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G Micro IF-ED Sample Photos


Value For Money

This lens costs around £620, which seems good value for money, when the performance and features this lens delivers is taken into account.

Those looking for a like-for like alternative from third party manufacturers may also consider Sigma's 105mm HSM OS macro lens, which costs around £380 and sports very similar specification on paper to the Nikon optic. Tamron also produce a stabilised macro lens with silent focusing. Their 90mm f/2.8 Di USD VC Macro lens costs around £440.

Nikon AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G Micro ED Verdict

Since its introduction, this lens has garnered a strong reputation for the quality it is capable of delivering, with good reason. Sharpness is excellent in the centre at maximum aperture, and outstanding across the frame when stopped down. It is priced reasonably too, given the level of performance it delivers and the features included.


 
  The Nikon AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G Micro delivers excellent sharpness with an effective VR system.

Nikon AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G Micro ED Pros

Excellent sharpness in the centre from maximum aperture
Outstanding sharpness when stopped down
Good build quality
Effective VR system
Low CA and distortion

Nikon AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G Micro ED Cons

Effectiveness of the VR system diminishes at close distances

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Nikon AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G Micro IF-ED Specifications

ManufacturerNikon
General
Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF-S G
Lens
Focal Length105mm
Angle of View24
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/32
Filter Size62mm
35mm equivalent105mm - 157.5mm
Internal focusingNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus31cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades9
Elements14
Groups12
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight720g
Height116mm

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Comments


17 Jul 2014 3:07PM

Quote: Manual adjustments can be applied at any time via the narrow focusing ring closest to the lens mount

Where...?! can't find it on mine...Wink

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