Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Nikkor Field Test: Does Nikon’s new 105mm macro lens deliver?
posted Thursday, July 15, 2021 at 5:20 PM EDT
Click here to read our Nikon 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Field Test
Nikon continues to expand its Z mirrorless system, regularly adding new lenses to the lineup. Last month, the Z system gained a pair of macro lenses in the form of the Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Nikkor and Nikon Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Nikkor. I've gone hands-on with both lenses, but our first Field Test is for the 105mm lens. It's Nikon's new flagship mirrorless lens for macro photography, and, as such, the S-Line lens is equipped with Nikon's most advanced optical and performance features.
In terms of build quality, the lens instantly feels like a professional quality optic. The weather-sealed lens has a solid, robust feel despite a relatively lightweight design. Like some other high-end Nikkor Z lenses, the new 105mm MC includes an OLED information panel, showing you aperture, focus distance, depth of field and, in this case, even magnification ratio. The new lenses are both 1:1 macro lenses, although neither is compatible with Nikon's teleconverters. The lens is stylish, sleek and handles smoothly.
Like with all lenses, though, it’s what’s inside that really counts. Nikon's latest 105mm macro lens has ARNEO and Nano Crystal Coatings to maintain good image quality and also utilizes extra-low dispersion and aspherical glass among its 16 total elements. The resulting image quality is excellent. The lens is sharp wide open across almost the entire frame on full-frame cameras, like the Z7 II I used to test the lens. It's worth pointing out that while the lens has an f/2.8 maximum aperture, it is an f/4.5 lens at a 1:1 reproduction ratio, speeding up little by little as you get to f/2.8 at around 1.5m. This was also true of Nikon's 105mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor lens for F mount, although that lens slowed down further to f/5 when at 1:1. And as an aside, the new Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 lens has an f/5.6 aperture at 1:1.
The lens captures sharp shots at macro distances (and non-macro distances, for that matter), but how is the autofocus? It's a bit of a mixed bag. Autofocus is generally accurate throughout the focus range, but it can slow down considerably when focusing on a close subject. A focus limiter to keep the lens from its minimum focus distance of 0.29m to 0.5m can help, but it's tricky to photograph a moving subject up close due to the focusing speed. Overall, though, the user experience is very good.
There's a lot more to say about the Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Nikkor lens. To read my full thoughts on the lens, check out our Field Test. You can also view and download a wide range of images, including sharpness test shots, in our Gallery. Stay tuned to Imaging Resource for our Field Test of Nikon's other new macro lens for the mirrorless Z system.