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

There are some times when you really want to get close, and your standard lens just won't get you there. Introducing the Nikon 105mm Micro, a lens that will get you super close as well as giving you razor sharp optics. I purchased mine from Simply Electronics but I would also recommend Amazon, Calumet, Jessops or Digital Rev.

Nikon 105mm
Sensor Type: Both DX and FX Sensors
Filter Size: 62mm
Aperture Range: f/2.8 - f/32
Construction: 14 elements in 12 groups
Autofocus: Yes
Minimum Focus Distance: 1ft
Angle of View: 23° (FX) and 16° (DX)
Weight: 790g

Introduction to the 105mm Macro

Nikon 105mm Close up lensMacro photography is a fascinating division of photography. Your camera lets you enter a miniature world where small details are magnified to incredible levels which means that taking a head shot of an ant is surprisingly possible!

The drawbacks to macro photography are that you will need some specialised kit. I'll cover macro photography in a further feature but for now its all about the excellent macro weapon, the Nikon 105mm Micro lens. For macro with Nikon, you have the choice of the 60mm f/2.8, the 105mm f/2.8 and the 180mm f/4.

The 180mm f/4 is the most expensive option so I chose the 105mm as it offers more reach than the 60mm at a lower cost than the 180mm and I also own the 1.7x Teleconverter which turns my 105mm f/2.8 lens into a 178mm f/4.8 lens which is almost the duplicate of the 180mm but my combination functions with VR as well.

Build Quality and Handling

View on FlickrThe 105mm lens is a tough, fully metal constructed lens that you know can withstand some abuse in the field. This is also true of most professional lenses and you have that reassuring weight to each lens which makes you understand you have some serious glass in your hand.

When coupled with a heavier camera, especially with a battery grip on it this lens balances well and doesn't become front heavy which it will do on a lighter body such as the D5000. The lens hood is very long and is actually the same size as the 70-200mm lens hood but it does a great job of eliminating flare. All in all this is one solid hunk of a lens.

Nikon Macro LensThere are three switches on this lens similar to the 70-200mm lens. The first switch deals with focussing and allows you to change from automatic focus to manual focus.

This is a lens that will be used a lot in manual focus because with macro photography, you really want to be in full control and fine tune the focus to perfection due to the very narrow depth of field.

The other two switches relate to VR, the first being simply on or off and the second one allows you to only focus within a pre determined range. This lens sets the range at infinity down to 0.5m. This removes the close up focussing ability which prevents slow focussing and hunting when working with distant subjects because the lens has a shorter range to work through.

Optics and Performance

Being a prime lens (Prime means that the lens offers a fixed focal length, ie. no zoom) the 105mm does not disappoint in optics. As with the 50mm f/1.4, this lens will blow you away with the results.

The lens does suffer from breathing when focussing really close. As you refine focus, your composition will change slightly which can be an annoyance and the aperture will only remain at f/2.8 when focussed at infinity. As you focus closer to the minimum distance the aperture stops down to a minimum of f/4.8.

View on FlickrWide open at f/2.8 this lens produces crisp shots and works best when stopped down to around f/5.6. Being a macro lens, lenses which are typically used at f/16 - f/32 for ensuring a large enough depth of field. The lens is still a great performer even at these small apertures. At f/32 shutter speeds will naturally slow and you would be looking to use flash for more light. If flash isn't an option, VR comes in very handy at this point to ensure the shot is steadier than it would normally be. Have a look at my sample shots.

This lens is a 1:1 production ratio macro lens which means the image you are viewing will be the exact same size on the camera's sensor as it is in real life. This means you can get really close to your subjects and if you also use extension tubes, bellows or reversing rings, you have incredible power to really get down an enter the world of an insect in spectacular detail.

Overall thoughts on the Nikon 105mm VR

105mm Macro VR NikkorLet's face it, this lens is a specialist lens dedicated to macro which makes it useful for macro work, product photography and even medical photography. I generally don't include it in my camera bag too often because when I plan to shoot macro I'll just carry the lens alone and a few flashes and a tripod.

Some people get excellent results from this lens using it simply as a 105mm prime for portraits and telephoto work. I haven't used this lens for such a purpose but I'm sure if I did, it would guarantee some bitingly sharp shots. Maybe I shall start using it more often.

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This blog is written by Paul Nimmo, a freelance website designer and photographer based in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.

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