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Nikon Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Lens review

John Riley reviews the new Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro lens for Z-Mount mirrorless cameras. Find out how this 1:1 macro lens performs.

|  Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S in Interchangeable Lenses
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Nikkor Z Mc 105mm F2,8 Vr S Front Oblique View

Following on from the recent review of the Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro lens, we have the Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro, this lens being in the rather more common area of 100mm macro lenses. The advantage of a slightly longer macro lens is well understood, although there is clearly room for both focal lengths, for different as well as overlapping purposes. The 105mm lens is from the S-Line range for Nikon Z cameras, the highest performing optics, so let's now couple it up with the Nikon Z 7 II 45MP body to see how its performance stacks up, particularly as we have the 50mm to compare it with directly.


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Nikon Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Handling and Features

Nikkor Z Mc 105mm F2,8 Vr S On Nikon ZII

This is a more conventionally arranged lens, compared to the oddities of the 50mm design, and we are provided with a large round lens hood that bayonets cleanly into place; retained by a small catch that has no tendency to accidentally release the hood. Within the bayonet fit for the hood is a conventional 62mm filter thread. The large front element has a Fluorine coating to repel water, dust and grease as well as the lens having the usual Nikon Nano Crystal and ARNEO coatings. The lens is also weather-resistant, virtually the new normal for lenses intended to be used in the field as well as the studio.

It is a large lens, weighing in at 630g, but the weight balances nicely with the Nikon Z7 II body. The first control ring is actually just a grip and does not rotate or have any other function, but it does provide an excellent way to hold the lens. The large focus ring can be used in AF when the shutter release is half-pressed, or obviously in MF to adjust the focus point. Focusing is down to 0.29m (0.96 feet), a maximum magnification of 1:1, or 1x, life-size. It is worth noting that the nominal apertures change as we focus closer, so, for example, f/2.8 at infinity becomes f/4.5 at 0.29m or 1:1. The aperture display shows the correct value.

There is a small OLED display window and this shows various parameters, depending upon how many times the Disp button is pressed. The choices are aperture value, focusing distance (in feet or metres as selected) and magnification ratio. When distance is selected there is a bar provided on the display that shows the depth of field. This is so small that it is of limited value to show DOF generally, except that it does enable a very effective way of setting the hyperfocal distance. This is actually rather a slick way to do this, using manual focus, just placing one end of the bar at the infinity mark. The only downside of the OLED display is that it does time out after 10 seconds, which is not quite in keeping with the careful precision of macro photography, which takes time and deliberation. Yes, the button can be pressed again, but it disturbs the lens and things can be that critical at high magnifications.

Nikkor Z Mc 105mm F2,8 Vr S Side View

There is a second button, marked L-Fn and this sets the lens to whatever action has been selected in the camera customisation. There is a long list of options that this button can be set to enable, found in the camera's menus: Custom Setting>f Controls>f2 Custom controls>L-Fn.

A final thin control ring can also be customised to offer adjustment of aperture, exposure compensation or ISO. This is assigned in Custom Setting>fControls>f2Custom controls>Lens control ring.

Closest to the camera body we have two more switches. The first is the usual A/M switch to select AF or MF. The second is the focus limiter, selecting either the full range or a restricted close up range to 0.29-0.5m. This is intended to speed up AF in close up work, but in reality, the lens does not have a problem and rarely fails to find focus.

Nikkor Z Mc 105mm F2,8 Vr S On Nikon ZII

Optical construction is 16 elements in 11 groups, including 3 ED (Extra Low Dispersion) and 1 Aspherical. The diaphragm comprises 9 blades and provides a nicely rounded aperture. The diaphragm is electromagnetic in operation, so precise and silent in operation. Likewise, the AF stepping motor is precise and virtually silent.

The lens is also designated VR, and Nikon claim a 4.5 stop advantage of this Vibration Reduction, something very valuable in a 105mm lens and especially in a macro lens. Obviously, this will depend on circumstances and the individual photographer, but for this reviewer, on this day the 4.5 stops was exactly right.

There is no doubt that this is a gorgeous lens, easy to use, well made and it serves well out in the field as well as in the studio. A pleasure all round, so let's now have a look at the technical performance.

Nikkor Z Mc 105mm F2,8 Vr S Rear Oblique View

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9 Jul 2021 1:19PM
No LoCA test? That's one of the most important characteristics of a macro lens.

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