The 105mm is currently the best Macro lens Nikon has on offer. I bought it to replace my 60mm Macro lens. Does it live up to the hype? Is it worth the investment?
The AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED is Nikon’s flagship macro lens. It was the first macro-lens that offered image-stabilization from any brand. 105mm was long considered a standard in macro-lenses (it’s already Nikon’s 10th version) as it gives you some reasonable working-distance. It lets you get close to your subject and shows details other lenses can’t show. It also doubles up as a moderate tele-lens. Check Tom Hogan’s website for detailed technical information about the lens.
Ah, that question. Yes, I used to own a fabulous 60mm macro lens. And I used it happily for many years. It wasn’t really the quality of that lens that made me want to replace it. After a long period of not shooting so much, I became interested in photography yet again. Mainly by watching lots of tutorials on Youtube, I got intrigued by the properties of prime-lenses. Prime lenses are lenses with a single focal length, so you can’t zoom with them. This makes them a lot sharper and more precise than a zoom-lens could ever be. I bought a 35mm 1.8 to test it out. Liking the results, I started contemplating a prime-lens kit, existing of 3-4 lenses that would be light to carry, and have lots of creative options.
At first the 60mm fit perfectly in that image. However I soon learned I wanted more out of a lens. I wanted a lens with more reach, and a lens that could combine several functions. Also 60mm was way to short for a tele. The 105 was the lens I was looking for. It has a nice short tele, does great macro shots, and even has fast autofocus. Autofocus was a bit of an issue with the 60mm; it was the old version, without the built-in focus motor. Another innovation was the Vibration reduction in the lens. I wasn’t used to hand holding lenses for slow shots (journalistic work seemed to be more about freezing the moment, so slow shutter speeds were never a thing). But shooting video I started to understand its use better. The 105mm allows for more distance between the subject and the lens, making it suitable for more than just studio shooting (The focus distance for the 60mm at 1:1 reproduction was less than 6cm). In an uncontrolled environment (outside), with low light or other constraints it became a very interesting addition to the lens.
It really feels like a proper lens. It is built like a tank, as is to be expected of a professional piece of glass. It has a nice weighty feel to it (The lens weighs in at 720 grams, without lens hood) It is also comfortably big in my hands, yet still compact in storage. Shooting with it is a great experience. Autofocus is quick for normal shooting, and even usable with macro shoots. At first I was quite uncomfortable with the idea of not being able to zoom. Then I just set myself the task of not changing the lens, and just sticking with it for a while, and I learned to deal with it quickly. It delivers wonderful contrasty images. The bokeh (That blurry bit in the background) looks nice and creamy. I even shot a few portraits with it. It’s truly a very versatile lens.
I shot a lot of images with the lens already, and you can have a look at the gallery below for some examples. The images in this set were all taken with the 105. The pictures were taken on a sunny day, in the nearby archaeological theme park ‘Archeon‘. The park is a nice place to test out gear, with many different subjects to shoot, ranging from nature close-ups to fast-paced gladiatorial combat.