Nikon 105mm f/2.8G VR Macro By Spencer Cox 47 CommentsLast Updated On January 23, 2023«1. Overview and Specifications2. Build Quality and Handling3. Optical Features4. Lens Comparisons5. Verdict6. More Sample Images7. Reader Comments»Table of ContentsOverview and SpecificationsBuild Quality and HandlingOptical FeaturesLens ComparisonsVerdictMore Sample ImagesReader Comments
Thank you very much Spencer. Amazing review and superb photos!
Thanks, very nice article, interesting and awesome shots !
I have a question : I see some photos taken at apertures as small as f/25… I thought diffraction would be a huge issue and that, generally, in full frame DSLR we should not got about f/16. I am sure you know it so could you please share your opinion?
With high-magnification macro photography, the depth of field is *extremely* shallow. To the point that at normal apertures like f/8, you may get half of an ant’s eye in focus, and the rest of the picture will be a blurry mess. If the subject isn’t moving, you can use focus stacking and retain a lot of sharpness. On moving subjects, there often is no choice but to use very narrow apertures like f/22 or f/32. Yes, there is diffraction, but it’s not as bad as people make it seem. You could still easily get huge prints at that point if you use good sharpening technique.
Can we expect a review of the Z 105 MC lens anytime soon?
After reading the article I’m guessing the answer is no.
It will be one of the next lenses we review, but we’re relocating our lab testing setup at the moment, so I don’t have an ETA for you. Likely this year at least.
Thank you, lovely review. I recently picked up a pre-owned Nikon DSLR and a macros lens is on my list of things to buy. Good to know that this is a high quality lens that isn’t very expensive anymore.
After a very long wait, since September 2021, Tamron finally offers an update to the F017 that seems to fix any issues on the FTZ . You have to send in the lens, though.
I want to give a little praise to the Tamron 90mm F017. In my opinion it really is a gem that somehow didn’t get the attention it deserved and sadly was discontinued after only a few years on the market. I think, it shines in many disciplines with no shortcomings whatsoever.
I find image quality to be excellent, starting at very good sharpness right into corners at low apertures as stated by Spencer, but also no visible CAs neither longitudinal nor lateral. I also love the bokeh, although i’m not super picky in that regard.
Beyond that, AF is absolutely unique for a macro lens. It is really odd, that this is my fastest focussing lens! I don’t have one of the 2,8 zooms, but I can’t imagine that there is much difference. Performance is also rock solid. I fully trust that lens to hit every single time, also at very remote focus points. AF at 1:1 is no problem at all and fully usable. I like to use AF-C with front and back movement not for focussing, but for framing.
The image stabilizer is said to be efficient at close distances too, due to also compensating for translatory movement not only rotation. I can’t compare that but it surely has an effect when close up.
Working distance is also almost the same as Nikon and Sigma despite the shorter focal length. Finally, there are those small details like flourine coating that put it apart from its contenders.
I owned and sold the Tokina (very bad CA) and tried both the Sigma and the Nikon shortly besides the Tamron when looking for a replacement. The decision was very clear. In my opinion the Tamron really stands out and I wouldn’t want to give it away for any of the others.
I can only imagine that people deciding to go third party all leaned towards the cheaper Sigma or that the slightly shorter 90mm steered people away. Or its qualities are not apparent from the specs.
It is really a pity that this excellent lens apparently didn’t sell.
As Spencer rightly points out, they’re all good, but the Tamron stands out. And I don’t see the slightly shorter focal length as a negative. Even at 90mm, I sometimes wish it were ever so slightly wider to fit into tight places like under a low-to-the-ground downward facing flower, shooting up into it.
Just checked the used prices & the 105 F is cratering since the Z version hit. Well under half price…
From what I can tell prices are near free fall on basically all F mount product, even those that don’t have a native Z equivalent. I recently sold my 70-300 AF-P lens (FF version) and didn’t get all that much for it.
Although I don’t do a lot of macro anymore, I am keeping the lens for portraits with a Z5 in cases where the (really outstanding) Nikkor Z 85mm f/1.8 S is a bit too short. I like the backgound rendering of the 105mm G, although the AF-S NIKKOR 105 mm 1:1,4E ED (which I don’t own) is in a different league for portraiture.
As one migrating to the new Z system (received my Z9 two weeks ago), I am eager to play with this lens as the flowers start opening up here soon. Given how much I use this lens for work, I doubt I will upgrade to the newer Z version anytime soon. Together with the 300PF, it will be one of the few F mount lenses I keep in my house. I’m actually shocked when the email came out for this post as the lens isn’t new, and I would have thought a review was already on it. Thank you, Spencer, for your detailed info!
Thank you, Jon! This is one of the very few modern F-mount lenses that we hadn’t reviewed yet at Photography Life. I thought that was remarkable considering I’ve taken more photos with this lens than probably any other that I’ve ever owned. I’m glad you enjoyed the review.
For macro work, I think 105mm “rules”. I have the 60mm, 105mm and 200mm Nikon macros (all earlier vintage than this lens, but all “auto focus”). People like to talk about the “subject distance” advantage of the 200mm macro–that is, the end of the 200mm lens is further away from the subject than the shorter focal length lenses. In my experience, the larger size of the lens negated this advantage. I used the 105mm macro 85% of the time. “Sharpness” is over-rated in a macro. So much of the subject is out-of-focus that technique is what matters–getting the lens focus plane aligned the best way.
105mm does strike a good balance for macro photography. The working distance on the Nikon 105mm G is about 6 inches, and it’s about 10 inches on the 200mm f/4. (This accounts for the length of the lens, as it’s the distance between the end of the lens and the subject.) For different photographers, that may be insignificant or make a huge difference.
I don’t understand thinking that sharpness is over-rated for macro. In fact, it’s the one genre where I think it’s most important. While a lot of the frame is out of focus, for the part that is, sharpness is critical!