Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro By Spencer Cox 96 CommentsLast Updated On January 26, 2023«1. Specifications and Construction2. Optical Features3. Sharpness Comparisons4. Verdict5. More Sample Images6. Reader Comments»
Very much enjoyed reading your review and currently working through your other articles about macro photography.
I’m a wildlife photographer currently looking into my gear for an Amazon Rainforest trip. I’ll be taking my 200-500 with me for the birds, but I’m trying to decide on which lens to bring/buy/rent for the smaller critters in the rainforest. I haven’t done any macro photography yet, so I’m completely new to the genre and I was wondering whether or not I really need a dedicated macro lens for these smaller rainforest animals.
To be more specific, I am currently thinking about either the Z 105mm f/2.8 MC or the Z 70-200mm f/2.8. How would you compare these for the specific use case I have in mind? Will the 70-200 have enough pseudo-macro capabilities to photograph the frogs, snakes and spiders of the rainforest or is the 105mm the way to go?
Is it really worth getting this Z version if you still have the G version? I use it for weddings, shooting close up of the rings etc,
You could go either way. I have the F-mount version and kept it, because for my uses, I’m always at f/22 and using a flash anyway. I don’t need many of the benefits that the newer version offers, even though it’s undoubtedly the better lens.
You made a few comments on the 105 MC S versus the 100-400mm S, can you add anything else? I expect that I’ll almost always have the 100-400mm with me (as my main lens), and I am wondering if I should even consider getting the 105mm (other than for very small macro use).
Thanks for all your work on the reviews!
The biggest difference is that the 100-400mm can reach 1:2.5 magnification at 400mm, which is plenty for subjects like lizards, flowers, dragonflies, and butterflies. It lets you fill the frame with something that’s about 9 cm / 3.5 inches wide (assuming a full-frame camera). It also lets you stand far back when you do so.
Meanwhile, the macro lens can reach 1:1 magnification. You need to get quite close to the subject, but you can fill the frame with something that’s about 3.5 cm / 1.4 inches wide. For serious close-up work of small insects, spiders, coins, etc., it would definitely be the way to go. The f/2.8 aperture is also in the macro lens’s favor for general-purpose photography, like portraiture.
In terms of sharpness, the macro lens is sharper, but the 100-400mm is already so sharp that who cares? Unless you’re printing gigantic prints or cropping extensively, it is unlikely to be noticeable.
I’ve owned this lens for nearly a year and have used it less often than it deserves, yet every time I’ve needed & used it I have been SO impressed with it. It is absolutely the best photomacrography lens I’ve ever owned (and I purchased my first “macro” lens in the 1970’s with many others since). I do note one minor caveat: its “focus breathing” is noticeable and at times substantial when I composite multiple images using “focus shift / focus stacking” methods. To counteract that negative I merely avoid super-tight crops when doing focus stacking. This lens is an indispensable part of my kit.
Thanks, Spencer, for this excellent review.
That’s true, there’s some focus breathing on this lens, similar to the F-mount 105mm f/2.8G macro. I think that’s usually the case for macro lenses that are internal focusing.
Too bad that it only goes to 1:1.
That is an advantage of a few macro lenses out there like Canon’s 105mm RF and the Laowa 2x lenses. Hopefully Nikon makes something similar one day.
Thanks for this test.
I hope one day to see an equivalent of this lens in a Z Micro Nikkor S 60mm or 70mm… Ideal distance for my current work.
60mm is somewhat common for macro lenses, but considering the existing MC 50mm, I doubt that Nikon will prioritize one for the Z system any time soon.
It’s another reason why I think a 70-180mm Macro replacement would be really well-received.
It’s rare to see a len get full marks from you :D
I think this is only the second one yet! It’s an excellent lens.
As a product photographer for a high end market, this lens is incredible. The autofocus and hunting can be a bit slow and even frustrating at times – as mentioned in the article, a “longer distance to infinity” limiter setting would have been nice – but that’s the only negative thing I can say about it. For different compression of certain products or features, I’ll bring out the Z 50 MC, but that’s a rare occasion compared to how often the 105 is attached; it’s simply on a different level. If I had to build my Z lens kit again from scratch, this would easily be in the first three purchases, maybe even taking the #2 spot right behind the 70-200 2.8.
Glad you’re enjoying the lens so far! (And the 70-200mm f/2.8, by the sound of it.) I’d imagine that the lack of longitudinal color fringing is very important to high-end product photography, in order to maintain color accuracy. The 105mm F-mount lens struggled in that department.
Hello. Would like to see a comparison with the Sigma Art 105mm/2.8 DG DN also, have had excellent results with it. Thanks !
Will do! I don’t think I’ve ever tested the Art version of their 105mm macro. As soon as I do, I’ll add the results to this review.
Success. (Please ignore previous post- sorry)
I loved the G series of this lens. The Z series surprised me. There images seem crisper and clearer. I especially like the way it performs at narrower apertures. I liked being able to set the aperture via the control ring but it is far too easy to accidentally make a mistake, so I have had to stop using the control ring.
I like the lens even more since the firmware update enabling linear focus control. It’s actually quite useful as a portrait lens. [I will eventually get an 85mm (probably the 1.8)]
Glad you got your comment to post, and I’m sorry that it didn’t work at first!
Your experience with the control ring mimics mine. I eventually disabled it after accidentally changing aperture a bit too often. (I’m not the only one, I see people accidentally hit it and change the aperture all the time on our workshops.)
Linear focus control is pretty essential for a macro lens, in my opinion. I’m really glad that Nikon added it to their cameras. It was one of my top complaints with the Z system for a while.