The most striking difference with the predecessor of the Nikon 105 mm VR macro, is that the new version is equipped with image stabilization. But the design of the new Nikon 105 mm macro has also been recalculated and the coating is improved. there’s little competition for this Nikon macro VR lens. Of the non camera related brands, Sigma is the only provider of macro lenses with image stabilization. An example of this is the Sigma 105 mm OS Macro.
Nikon 105 mm macro sample image
Construction and autofocus Nikon 105 mm macro
The construction and finish are, as we are used to of professional Nikon lenses, of great class. The spacer ring is broad and runs slack. The friction over the whole setup works right, but to our taste it could have been slightly higher. Important for the macro photographer who wish to focus manually, is that the focussing stroke is over 180 degrees. The filter doesn’t rotate during focusing, which is nice when using gray gradient filters or polarization filters.
For a macro lens it is exceptional that the lens tube doesn’t extend when you focus at close range. The Nikon 105 mm macro lens has its own fast and quiet AF drive. Focusing with the Nikon D3200 is fast. Even in macro photography, the camera focuses quickly.
Subjects with low contrast however, were not always optimal in focus.
Image stabilization Nikon 105 mm macro
We have tested the image stabilization / vibration reduction of the Nikon 105 mm macro already in combination with the Nikon D700. We realized a gain of 3 stops. This gain is measured at a few meters away and drops sharply as you will use this lens for macro images.
Vignetting Nikon 105 mm macro
Vignetting of the Nikon 105 mm macro VR is half a stop at full aperture. In macro photography this is a minor issue, since you will always stop down this lens in order to get more depth of field.
The largest aperture of f/2.8 increases in the macro area because of the extention of the lens tube. When set to its shortest distance, the largest aperture is f/4.8. This is common for macro lenses.
Distortion Nikon 105 mm macro
The distortion in jpg files from the Nikon 105 mm macro combined with a Nikon D3200 is very low. In our Nikon 105 mm macro in combination with a Nikon D700 full-frame camera, we observed the same. Both RAW and jpg files show no distortion. The good performance for distortion thus is due to a perfect design of the lens and not due to in-camera correction of distortion by the Nikon D3200 .
Bokeh Nikon 105 macro
In macro photography you will almost allways have a blurred foreground or background. Therefore, the quality of the bokeh is particularly important for these lenses. The bokeh of the Nikon 105 mm VR Macro is very nice. At full aperture, the bokeh in the corners changes into cat’s eye bokeh, due to vignetting.
Color bokeh Nikon 105 macro
Color bokeh originates from longitudinal chromatic aberration and occurs in lenses with a large aperture. Color bokeh is indicated by green and purple spots in front of and behind the focussing plane. In some of our Nikon 105 mm macro test images we observed color bokeh.
With a strong light source aimed straight into the Nikon 105 mm macro, we observed flare and, to a small extent, ghosting.
Resolution Nikon 105 macro
The test camera, a Nikon D3200 , has 24 megapixels and delivers a significant improvement in the resolution, compared to our previous test of this lens on a 12-megapixel Nikon D700. After stopping down 1 stop, good performance for the resolution put down. When diaphragm 4 and 5.6 the corners remain slightly behind the center. The highest performance for the resolution achieved with aperture 11.
Chromatic aberration Nikon 105 macro
The lateral chromatic aberration in jpg files from the Nikon D3200 is completely absent at all apertures. Even at high magnifications, you will no lateral chromatic aberration (blue and magenta spots) encounter.
Otherwise, it is longitudinal chromatic aberration. Purple and green spots in-focus as a result of longitudinal chromatic aberration can be encountered when the lens at full aperture used. See the example in section bokeh. Using software such as Capture NX color bokeh is easy to correct. See for instance the example in the Nikon D800E review.
Conclusion Nikon AF-S VR Micro 105 mm 2.8G review
- Very good center sharpness from f/2.8
- Low distortion and lateral chromatic aberration
- Beautiful bokeh
- Very fast autofocus
- Robust construction
- Vignetting @ f/2.8
- Only f/4.8 maximum aperture at smallest setting distance
- Kleurbokeh / longitudinal chromatic aberration at full aperture
- High price
The Nikon 105 mm f/4.0 VR Macro delivers sharp images from corner to corner. The distortion is low and the vignetting already after 1 aperture stop invisible. From the relatively high maximum initial aperture, f/2.8, in the macro range at maximum reproduction ratio only f/4.8 remains. For a macro lens it is exceprional that the lens tube doesn’t extend when you focus at close range.