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Nikon 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S VR Micro Nikkor

 
Lens Reviews / Nikon Lenses i Lab tested

Lab Test Results

  • Blur
  • Chromatic Aberration
  • Vignetting
  • Geometric Distortion
105mm $897
average price
image of Nikon 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S VR Micro Nikkor

(From Nikon lens literature) Nikon Corporation is pleased to announce the introduction of the AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED, the world's first macro lens equipped with Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM) and Vibration Reduction (VR) systems. It offers a host of Nikon's advanced optical features and technologies such as Nano Crystal Coat, Extra Low Dispersion (ED) glass and Internal Focusing (IF) . The AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED is engineered for use with both Nikon DX format digital and 35mm film SLR cameras.

This lens has been developed to meet user demand for a 105mm macro lens equipped with SWM, IF and VR system.

The SWM ensures fast and quiet autofocusing and quick switching between autofocus and manual operation. The IF system also offers a non-rotating front lens element that facilitates the use of circular polarizing filters.

With the enhanced VR system (VRII), photographers can capture sharp images at shutter speeds approximately 4 stops* slower [at near infinity to 3m (1/30x reproduction ratio)] than would otherwise be possible. The negative effects of camera shake are greatly amplified in close-up photography and can affect image sharpness greatly. The incorporation of Nikon VR technology in a Micro-Nikkor lens expands versatility by, for the first time, providing the sharpness benefits of VR and improving hand-held close-up photography. What's more, the VRII offers stable viewfinder image for easy frame composition even at high magnification shooting.

In addition, the AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED also features proven Nikon optical technologies such as the Nano Crystal Coat, which drastically reduces flare, and one ED glass element that minimizes chromatic aberration, to provide higher resolution and high-contrast images.

The AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED ensures high-quality and high performance for all photographers - from amateurs to professionals.

* Under Nikon measurement conditions.

Test Notes

This is the updated version of a classic Nikon macro lens, the Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8, the most noticeable differences being the addition of Nikon's excellent Vibration Reduction (VR) technology to this new model, and the correspondingly higher price. (Currently in late summer 2006, about $180 more at typical street prices.) This new model is also about 8 ounces heavier (a total weight of 790 grams, or 27.9 ounces) than the not-exactly-svelte original 105mm. Another welcome addition though, is Nikon's Silent Wave focus motor, so this new 105mm is both faster-focusing and more quiet than the old timer it's replacing.

While the optical formulas for the two lenses are very different, their optical performance in all the parameters we measure (blur, chromatic aberration, distortion, and light falloff) is very similar. The original holds a very slight edge in both sharpness and light falloff ("vignetting"), but the new model wins in chromatic aberration again by a slight margin. One subtle point noted in a user review below is that the updated 105mm also sports a 9-blade diaphragm, which makes for lovely, smooth bokeh (rendering of out-of-focus elements). Geometric distortion is very low, albeit both slightly higher and of a different sort than the original 105mm: The new 105mm VR showed 0.07% maximum barrel distortion, compared to the 0.04% pincushion of the original. Average distortion for both lenses is very low, 0.03% for the new model, vs 0.02% for the original. The distortion of both lenses is low enough that most shooters will be able to ignore it entirely.

All in all, this is a superb optic, particularly if you're a macro fanatic. (Many is the time we've lamented the lack of VR in our old 105mm f/2.8: Shooting bugs or fungi on the forest floor, there's rarely enough light to deliver sharp hand-held photos.) Highly recommended, if you're in the market for the ultimate macro lens for your Nikon SLR body!

Nikon 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S VR Micro Nikkor User Reviews

9.3/10 average of 31 reviews Build Quality 9.5/10 Image Quality 9.6/10
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  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Stunningly sharp. AF and VRII actually works well doing 1:1 macro imaging.
    A tad heavy

    I was using a Nikon D7000 when I first got the lens and could not have been more satisfied with the images it produced. I now own a Nikon D600 and the lens continues to produce simply indescribably beautiful images. I've used it for a couple of ad-hoc family portrait shots but the clarity is so intense that I have to soften the images in Lightroom or they can reveal every not-so-spiffy blemish and wrinkle.

    Before I got used to the autofocus (nothing scientific here) I struggled some with hunting but I gradually negotiated how it "does it's thing" and it is no longer a problem.

    I use it almost exclusively for insect shots anyway. Example here --> http://flic.kr/p/dpkJjr

    reviewed November 7th, 2012 (purchased for $850)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (7 reviews)
    Sharpness, versatility, construction, perfect bokeh, no distortion
    None

    This is one seriously sharp lens with perfect bokeh and sharp from edge to edge. This is the best lens I have ever purchased and could not be happier. Flair is nonexistent and focus is lightning quick. It is just a perfect of portraiture as it is for macro

    reviewed October 10th, 2012
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (6 reviews)
    VR, Sharp
    None

    I have the Nikkor Micro 55mm 1:2.8, and the Nikkor Micro 60mm 1:2.8. I added this lens to give more distance between the front of the camera and subject. I have been shooting it on a Nikon D800E to test the camera because I know the lens is capable of very sharp results.

    reviewed August 26th, 2012 (purchased for $950)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Very Sharp, Excellent Bokeh
    Slightly Heavy

    This is my goto lens when shooting at the local Botanical Garden, and in fact is the only lens I ever carry when visiting. For other uses, it has performed consistantly, always yielding results which are expected from a Nikon Prime lens. Every Macro shot I have taken which has gotten "oohs and aahs" from my photo club, has been shot with this lens. I even refer to it as the "badass" of my meager lens collection.

    reviewed March 21st, 2012 (purchased for $850)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (13 reviews)
    sharp,and very sharp
    not any

    love this lens,for portraits,and product shots

    reviewed November 26th, 2011
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (5 reviews)
    Very sharp at macro and telephoto, easy tu use it.

    I used it for flowers and it gave me great results. I am very happy to have bought it.

    reviewed October 16th, 2010 (purchased for $850)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (2 reviews)
    v good sharpness, great colors, great VR work, super fast AF, build quality,
    heavy lens, CAs

    My favourite lens. Very easy manual focus, great preformance. Best macro and overall choice at this mm, only sigma 70 2,8 is sharper, but it is different kind of lens at all...

    reviewed April 17th, 2010 (purchased for $890)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (5 reviews)
    Incredibly sharp, solid construction, very pleasing bokeh
    none

    Having tried all the 100mm Macros there is no doubt this is the king of the hill.

    As with most macros, manually focusing is much more spot on than auto focus. I'd recommend a split prism focus screen. My D90 has a Katz Eye on it and for people willing to spend a grand on a macro lens, why not spend $125 - $150 for a proper focus screen.

    reviewed October 20th, 2009 (purchased for $950)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (6 reviews)
    Great IQ & BQ, very usefull VR, nice bokeh
    High price

    I use this lens on my D90 and it works great @f/4.0-5.6 for macro shootings. If you want to shoot macro without a tripod know that this one has a very useful VR. Before coming to IQ, in my opinion, the sharpness of a lens is always subjective and depends on many other controllable & uncontrollable effects. So, concerning my macro and telephoto shootings in daylight; @f/4.0 center IQ is very impressive and @f/5.6 edges are almost as sharp as center.

    AF hunts a bit and you don't get f/2.8 at macro close-ups (that's common almost in all macro lenses).

    With the 9-blade diaphragm it's really unusual to have a distorted/nervous bokeh.

    A hint for manual focus users: the shallow DOF will force you to be more precise and this is really tricky with a camera (like D90) that does not have a proper focus screen for manual focusing.

    In general, one usually has to pay a high price for high IQ and BQ. This one's worth it.

    reviewed September 24th, 2009 (purchased for $750)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (8 reviews)

    good lens, only AF is working little bit slowly

    reviewed August 9th, 2009
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Extremely sharp; great bokeh

    There seems to be a growing lack of understanding about how one uses a lens. I highly suspect the complaints about QC. I've owned many Nikkor lenses and used many others via rentals, borrowing etc. and I've yet to see any issue that could be construed as a lack of quality control. I'm highly critical of my work-- but place the blame where it belongs-- on myself.

    reviewed April 29th, 2009 (purchased for $800)
  • 5 out of 10 points and not recommended by (8 reviews)
    sharp, super close focusing,
    really bad hunting

    everyone raves about this lens, and in perfect conditions ti's really good, especially when manually focusing, BUT autofocus is TERRIBLE, i've used it on my d200 and my d700, on both cameras it hunted so bad, while shooting jewellery i only hand one hand free to use the camera at the time and had to rely on autofocus, by 2am i was about ready to throw the dam thing out the window

    my advice, get a 60mm, get closer to the subject, my 60mm very rarely hunts, and in my opinion is sharper, i can see how a 105 has it's benefits for insects etc where you can't get physically that close (although i still do with my 60) but yeah

    i'm glad i only borrowed it from a friend for a few weeks and didn't buy it, i would have lost it by now i recon.

    reviewed April 24th, 2009
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (5 reviews)
    Good solid build, VR is a bonus
    Soft at wider apertures

    I am new to the Nikon system and this was my first "pro" quality purchase. Although it is a fine lens, I am disappointed with the performance at wide apertures. Here is my experience.

    I purchased this as a dual purpose lens. Obviously, as a macro but also as an interim portrait lens. Maybe I just got a lemon but the lens is unacceptablly soft at wide apertures. This is not much of an issue when shooting macro but leaves a lot to be desired for portrait. My lens requires stopping down to 5.6 to get the center in good shape. At first I thought it was my technique so I mounted my Tamron 90/2.8. The Tamron simply outperformed the Nikon across the board.

    I sent the lens to Nikon to have it evaluated. When it was returned (good turnaround - 3 weeks), there was a list of adjustments / repairs they had performed (this is a brand new lens so makes me wonder about QC). The performance was improved but still falls short of the Tamron.

    From what I have read on this and other forums since, unless you must have the VR, I would opt for the non-VR version or go for the Tamron for macro. For portrait, you are better off with one of the 85mm. The 85/1.8 stopped down to 2.8 is a better choice.

    Reading through the other reviews, my comments will probably seem like heresy or maybe I just don't get "it". Yes the build is very nice but it is the performance that counts. In that regard, it is a beautiful lens that does not deliver at wider apertures.... at least not my sample.

    reviewed April 6th, 2009 (purchased for $825)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (2 reviews)

    This lens is very sharp. My primary use is macro work with insects and some close-in telephoto work with waterfowl. I also have a 28-105 /3.5 AF with 1:1 macro capability which I purchased for my daughter. I mention this because that lens has a macro setting which limits the autofocus function to the "macro range". I've also experienced the "hunt focus" that some others have mentioned. The 105 VR has two range setting for AF: Full & infinity - 0.5 mm. If you think about the two primary uses for this lens: telephoto and Macro you'll also wonder why the design did not include: infinity to 0.5 mm & 0.5 mm to 1:1 macro.

    reviewed March 22nd, 2009 (purchased for $850)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (14 reviews)
    Apart from the obvious excellence, its made in Japan
    Size

    If only every lens was this good....

    reviewed December 7th, 2008 (purchased for $790)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (9 reviews)
    Image Quality, Shallow Depth of Field Wide Open, Very Good Bokeh
    Shallow Depth of Field Wide Open, Sometimes my Autofocus (on all my cameras) Searches a Bit

    This is my favorite lens in my collection. I am always amazed by the results of it on any of my cameras. Although, it is decent for macro work, I actually prefer it as a portrait lens. The focal length makes composition a snap, and the bokeh leaves nothing to be desired. Great lens!! My only criticisms are that, when wide open, its depth of field is really tricky to get right when doing macro work (for portraits, that's actually an asset), and for some reason, every once in a while, the autofocus has to strain a bit to find its mark. Normally, I would assume this was teh camera's fault, but it has happened on several of them that I have attached this to.

    reviewed August 29th, 2008 (purchased for $780)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (2 reviews)
    IQ, IF, build
    weight

    This IF lens is great for macro shots w/o problems of blocking varying amt of light depending on focus. Plus you don't squish bugs when trying to focus on them! The only macro on the market with VR, and VR2 no less!

    dxo doesn't seem to have any macro lenses, is there a reason for this? Anyway, I put in their DxO Modules suggestion form so maybe they'll add it if more users vote for it.
    http://www.dxo.com/intl/photo/support/modules/availability/pb_availability

    reviewed July 21st, 2008 (purchased for $700)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (8 reviews)
    Sharp and crisp - top lens for macro and portraits - VRII does it.
    None

    I totally agree with "nexus" (6. september 2007 below)

    "Mr. review" do not know, what this is about. ALL MACRO LENSES DOES THAT, but it is not all camera and lenses, that shows it !!

    Here we have an honest showing, and then he turnes it down.

    I tryed my Tamron 90 mm on a Canon camera, but it did not show it, then I tried on a Nikon, AND IT SHOWED IT.

    A real pity, that Mr. "review" ( 1. september 2007) does not understand it, because otherwise this lens would rate 9,9, and it really deserves it.

    ----

    I love it for macro and the VR does it - I can shoot hanheld for a lot of close-up-shooting, but I am also using it for my wedding jobs, and it takes amazing portrait pics.

    For the wedding flowers nothing can beat it.

    But it has been a very expensive experience for me :) - because it showed me:

    "Can a lens be SO sharp?"

    After that I only buy pro lenses, because I really saw the difference according to my other lenses.

    reviewed February 13th, 2008 (purchased for $1,300)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (82 reviews)
    Execelent prime lens...very fun to use and yeilds great results.
    Almost too sharp.

    I have photos taken with the D40 for samples to look at here:

    Sample Photos Taken with a D40

    -Lex

    reviewed January 23rd, 2008 (purchased for $700)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (4 reviews)
    Absolute a good prime to keep
    none

    The reviewer below does not seem to understand the mechanics of how a Macro lens work. You do not get F2.8 when using Macro. The apature has to go up as you focus nearer. This happens to all Macro lenses. You obviously have a problem as everyone else did not complained about it. This lens has been tested using underwater shots and is great. Your sentance dont hold solid evidence as we seen too many beautiful shot of butterflies bees, insects etc, while you just compared it for the purpose of shooting through glass of a fish tank.

    And just to backup this lens for taking fish

    http://wetpixel.com/i.php/full/nikon-105mm-vr-review/

    Shame you just slam the lens just like this.

    Lens scores perfect due to many reasons.

    I know it may be pricey, but it isnt much more than the old 105mm macro lens either. I see no reason why if you have not gotten either 105mm Nikkors would choose the older version over this one just to save $200.00 or so. Sometimes I felt that many have underrated this lens as they only feel that is a Macro dedicated lens which is how unfortunate.

    Costly it might be but is well constructed and you get best quailty for the price you paid. Lens is Japan made and lots of metal involved.

    Features like everybody knows it, is a macro lens, plus VR and AF-S. This lens is extremly fast when you put on the limit of focus when Macro is mostly not involved . Use it and ou find the focusing is much faster. You dont use the limit when you are doing macro.

    I have used this lens more than a Macro and for potraits and it is absolutely charm by the images it produce. You can always put on a soft spot filter to lower the sharpness or do it in photoshop.

    This is the heaviest lens I own and if people who have used this lens should not be complaining about weight. I have never understood why people are so overly concern when they have heavier lens in their bag. Where quality is a must, I choose this lens over all the 3rd party competitors. I would however recommend Tamron 90mm if you find price too high for you as is half the price with the Tamron and a light weight and good performer. Quality built wise, none will beat this Nikon lens in the same range.

    A definate buy if you are using D40, not that this bothers me as I use the higher range of Nikon bodies. The VR definately helps in capturing bugs and butterfiles before they launch off. This lens is definately a good performer. I must remind people not to rely on professional reviewers as they tested this lens way back and did not do a proper test sometimes. Make sure you read about 10 other reviews from other websites before you make your decision. I for one am happy with this purchase. Is my only prime lens that I bought.

    reviewed September 6th, 2007 (purchased for $825)
  • 1 out of 10 points and not recommended by (1 reviews)
    Good portrait
    Slow and shallow depth of view

    The lens stops down to f/4.8 when focusing at 1:1. It is therefore too slow to shoot macro of live objects such as the fish in an aquarium.

    When at 1:1, the effective focal length decreases significantly. Thus, the lens' auto focus often produces blur image when viewed at 100% magnification.

    While the lens is good for portrait, it is supposed to be a macro lens. As such, it is a terrible macro lens for living object such as a free moving fish.

    reviewed September 1st, 2007 (purchased for $800)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (4 reviews)
    Excellent build & optics, superb sharpness, VR, silent AF, precise focus ring
    heavy, 105mm restrictive on 1.5x APS-C

    A fantastic lens. Very good build quality, worthy of a Pro/Prime lens category.

    Manual focus ring extremely smooth & precise.

    Image quality top-notch, extremely detailed.

    VR to boot. Excellent purchase. Made In Japan (as all other Nikkor prime lenses).

    Unfortunately it's the only Macro (Micro) lens which AF works on my D40. The 105mm on a 1.5x sensor a little restrictive indoor portaits.

    Have not tried Macro as yet.

    reviewed June 10th, 2007 (purchased for $650)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (14 reviews)
    Sharp!! Quick focus for a macro, solid feel. Bokeh!!
    Spendy

    The image quality - sharpness everywhere, lack of CAs and light fall off, contrast and saturation - is everything you could ever ask for. 10+ for sure. And then when you look at the bokeh you realize just what a remarkable lens this is. Truely a pro lens in every respect. And the VR really helps with normal shots. I've handheld down to 1/3 of a second and had a sharp image. With a macro shot it helps down to about 1:2 as well. Below that you need a tripod, but you'd need one anyway to control your focus point. A classic lens.

    reviewed January 3rd, 2007 (purchased for $825)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (4 reviews)
    AF-S, IF and... yes VR
    size, weight

    I compared the performance of this lens with the previous version (AF 105/2.8 D) in summer 2006. The full text of my review can be found at my web:
    http://dawep.net/test.html

    The main results are:
    - this lens produces better bokeh compared to the old version
    - this lens is slightly sharper wide opened and also slightly sharper when fully stopped down
    - despite one ED glass element, some minor amount of CA was found between f2.8 and f4, which was comletely absent at f5.6. In contrast, the pictures made with old version had no trace of CA!
    - the new version is slightly better when focused at infinity
    - the size and weight make the new lens less pleasant to work with (of course only if you hand hold the lens; no problem on a tripod)

    Conclusion:
    According to my experience, the new version is NOT an significant upgrage in terms of picture quality, especially sharpness. I see the main benefits in AF-S, IF design and compatibility with the teleconvertors I possess. And I must not forget the potential use as a medium telephoto lens with VR.

    reviewed December 31st, 2006 (purchased for $1,190)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (9 reviews)
    sharp, great manual focus, build, VR, bokeh
    heavy, pricey

    This is a great lens. I have yet to find a flaw with it. Image quality is tops. Probably the best that I own as a hobbyist. AF is fast and near silent. The focus limiter switch is a blessing when shooting anything other than macro. Makes the AF even faster. VR is great. It’s not really necessary when macro shooting, but anything else and the VR helps tremendously. Manual focusing is quite smooth and easy on this lens. It’s simple to make small focus corrections. The bokeh on this lens is also great. Very nice backgrounds. Smooth. This lens can make some great portraits, although it’s a little long on a DSLR. Build quality is excellent. This thing is a chunk of metal, plastic, and glass. It's solid, heavy, and comes with a pretty good hood as well. I wish I could find more things to shoot with this lens.
    As a note, the VR in this lens makes more noise than the VR in my brand new 70-300 AF-S VR. Strange, since this one is in a shorter focal length prime. It still works great. Highly recommended if you can spare the extra cost over the older 105 micro.

    reviewed December 22nd, 2006 (purchased for $900)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (5 reviews)
    quality construction, fast, sharp, VR
    none

    have tried this out on many occasions by borrowing it from my dad. I could not think of any better lens for macro use. It is a very fast f/2.8 and the VR helps alot with handholding for close shots. I have very rarely used a tripod when using this lens because of this. Image quality is very sharp. Focusing is very fast and noise free. The focus limiter helps alot when shooting farther objects or portraits. Has a great reach when used on a dslr. Quality metal construction which gives it weight but not enough to make handholding a chore. If you want a macro lens, this is the one to choose without a doubt, you will not be disappointed.

    reviewed December 10th, 2006
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (15 reviews)
    very sharp, 1:1 w/o accessories, beautiful bokeh, no barrel extension, VR
    no aperture ring (G lens design)

    Although this lens and it's non-VR predecessor are the least sharpest members of the Micro-NIKKOR family, they still are very sharp. There simply is no Micro-NIKKOR that can not deliver pin-sharp images. The newer VR version has more sharpness falloff to the edges wide open than the non-VR version. But it delivers better contrast and has a more colorful image rendition, which compensates much.

    The bokeh of this lens is marvellous. This and the much better color rendition are the main advantages over the predecessor. The VR feature is nice at normal distances but not much of use doing macro work. AF is surprisingly fast, macro work still involves large amounts of manual focusing, tough.

    The lens is equally good at infinity and at it's near limit. It has virtually no distortion and very low CA. On a D200 or D80 it should not be used at f/16 or slower unless DOF requires so. Manual focusing at infinity has improved since the non-VR version.


    As all modern Micro-NIKKOR designs this lens uses a trick to minimize barrel extension (absolutely zero extension in this case) and maximize effective aperture when focusing all the way down to 1:1. But this trick comes at a cost: The effective focal length decreases significantly. This can be very annoying when you try to do macro work on a tripod without a macro focusing rail.

    reviewed November 27th, 2006
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (18 reviews)
    New VR technology, reasonable price, excellent image quality
    Cant really think of one

    Upgraded my 60mm micro to this 105VR and am very pleased.

    The VR effect does tail off the closer you are to the subject and the AF is sometimes touch and go acquiring focus. However use the focus limiter to help.

    You can also use the cameras AFC mode to compensate for the the very narrow DOF when hand held to help maintain focus. Its a bit like 3D VR technology.

    The barrel is very thick for a non 77mm lens but i suppose they have to fit the image stabilizing gyro's in there.

    Please also remember that its not f2.8 when focusing at 1:1 in common with other macro lenses.
    But most of the time you want to be at f11 to get a reasonable DOF

    Colourperfect

    reviewed November 21st, 2006 (purchased for $1,000)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Sharpness, VR, 1:1 macro with a non-extending lens
    Size, a bit long on a digital body

    This is an amazingly specified lens - I've heard it called the "Alphabet soup" Nikkor (AF-S, VR II, ED, IF, Micro, G, Nano-crystal) - that's more designations than I've ever seen on any single lens! Several of the designations are not normally seen on the same lens (IF macros are rare, although not unheard of, and , as far as I know, this lens's combination of macro and VR or IS is unique).
    What does all the alphabet soup mean in actual use? It's tack sharp from infinity to 1:1 (but any $800+ prime with a modest focal length and maximum aperture had better be!). Expensive prime lenses are divided into frighteningly fast (50 mm f1.2), notably long (>300 mm) (or short(<14mm)) and strikingly sharp plus close-focusing (a range of 105 to 200 mm macro lenses). The expensive macro lenses are among each camera maker's sharpest lenses, and the 105 mm f2.8 Nikkor doesn't disappoint in this category. As a conventional, tripod mounted macro lens, it is as good as any I've seen, and better than the others I've owned (60 mm AF Micro-Nikkor and 55 mm Sigma)
    The combination of AF-S and internal focusing makes this a remarkably usable autofocus lens. Most macro lenses are really manual focus lenses (even if they supposedly have AF), because screw drive autofocus produces a very slow focusing lens if you have a long focusing throw, which all macro lenses do. Until very recently, camera body AF systems haven't really been up to the challenge of focusing a macro lens with very limited DOF. The fact that non internal focusing macro lenses also extend enormously as they are focused hasn't helped the situation, either. This lens solves all of these problems at once. The depth of field at 1:1 is so thin (by definition) that I still manually focus on a tripod when I'm in that close, but this is optical physics at work. I use the AF all the time with subjects in the 1:2 - 1:5 range, only a few inches across (subjects that the AF on my previous macro lens - a 60 mm AF Micro-Nikkor - would not have handled).
    The other notable feature of this lens is, of course, the VR. No VR system will produce sharp handheld images at 1:1 - the depth of field is too thin (any camera movement will lose the plane of focus). That said, I often use the VR on subjects in the 1:3 to 1:10 range handheld, and get many more "keepers" than I would without it. Close-up (as opposed to true macro) nature subjects are very possible at reasonable shutter speeds without a tripod - images I wouldn't dare try without the VR!
    Are there any disadvantages? Yes - three that I have found. This is a big, bulky pro lens, where other macro lenses are often small and light (most 60mm macros resemble a 50 mm 1.4, while this lens resembles a 28-70 2.8). Other 105mm macros are bigger than the 60s, but a lot smaller than this one. This is also a 150+ mm lens on a digital body, which is longer than most people's "ideal" macro lens. It gives a lot of working distance, but it doesn't double as a sharp midrange prime (it's more of a short telephoto). Of course, the third disadvantage is the price. It's the most expensive non-specialty macro lens around by a wide margin (the specialty lenses include Canon's lens that focuses well beyond 1:1, Nikon's discontinued true macro 70-180 zoom and a few 200 mm macros) .
    Even though it is long, bulky and expensive, this is an amzing lens! I would strongly recommend it to any Nikon owner who enjoys close-up subjects (anything within about 6 feet of the camera, right down to 1:1). It's probably too expensive to use as a 105mm VR prime if you'll never focus closer than 6 feet, but it is more than competent in that role as well.

    reviewed November 6th, 2006 (purchased for $850)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (7 reviews)
    Fast autofocus, VR is great, SHARP SHARP SHARP!!!
    VR useless at 1:1 magnification, sometimes AF hunts a bit if not limited

    As said in the previous review, the lens stops down to f/4.8 when focusing at 1:1 magnification, but that is not all bad. I don't notice much the change in focal length, but I do notice the VR stop working the closer I get to the maximum magnification - that's okay, because at that magnification you really want to be using a tripod, perhaps in the future VR III will take care of this issue? ;)

    The autofocus may hunt a bit if you don't limit it. This lens has a focus ring that has increments that go around a full revolution, instead of what a lot of non macro lenses have, perhaps 1/5 or 1/4 of a revolution. Very fine increments, which is excellent for what this lens was made for. Limiting the AF will reduce it to half a revolution, which cuts down on AF hunting.

    Image quality is awesome, I can't think of better words to describe it. The bokeh is really comparable to the 85 f/1.4 (which I used and still use a lot of), contrast is excellent, as are the colors. It does have a bit of flare shooting against bright backgrounds, but it's limited to f/2.8, and sometimes it's not very noticeable. This lens is really SHARP!!! I thought the 85 f/1.4 was sharp, but this 105 VR beats it, and has a wider sweet spot too.

    It's a bit bulky in appearance, lighter than you'd expect, yet is very well built. On my D100 the lens' bulk leaves a bit less room for my fingers to confortably hold the camera, but on my D2x it's a match made in heaven ;^) Overall, it's a excellent lens for portrait and macro work.

    10/15/06 Update: I no longer have a D100, and replaced it with a D200. It's another perfect match in the handling department, very well balanced, and my fingers don't feel cramped at all.

    11/03/06 Update: This lens is permanently mounted on my D200, they just work so well together, and I LOVE the image quality from this lens! I've now given it a perfect score, its advantages far outweigh the few niggles I had. A must buy in my opinion! :)

    reviewed October 9th, 2006 (purchased for $829)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (5 reviews)
    Excellent image quality, excellent build, excellent VR implementation
    pricey, shortens focal length when focusing close, max aperture goes down to f/4.8 at closest focusing distance

    Impressively, the Nikon 105/2.8 VR shows center and corner sharpness through the entire aperture range. The sweet spot is said to be between f/5.6 to f/11, but inspecting 100% crops did not reveal much loss of sharpness at the larger apertures. This probably has a good deal to do with the ED glass element and Nano Crystal coating showing its worth, but it is also probable that the lens outresolves the 6-megapixel APS-C sensor on the test body (a Nikon D50), so any decrease in sharpness is not as apparent.

    Likewise, color and contrast are also consistently well rendered through the range of apertures. The only flaws in this gem are flaring and chromatic aberration, which shows up in high contrast scenes from maximum aperture (f/2.8) and is minimized by f/5.6. This is, however, typical of many large aperture lenses at maximum aperture.

    Bokeh is one of the best traits of this lens, pretty much up there with some of the best Nikkor lenses, like the 85/1.4 AF-D. Out of focus areas are smooth, and the 9-bladed diaphragm helps to render out of focus point lights as circles rather than harsh geometric shapes.

    My complete review: http://www.gadget-hack.com/2006/05/nikon-105mm-f28g-if-ed-af-s-vr-micro.html

    reviewed May 30th, 2006 (purchased for $875)