Thanks to the addition of Vibration Reduction (VR) technology this is a big lens by conventional 100mm macro standards, and it is also heavier and more expensive than the norm.
AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Nano
Thanks to the addition of Vibration Reduction (VR) technology this is a big lens by conventional 100mm macro standards, and it is also heavier and more expensive than the norm. It is, however, very easy to hold and produces some great results.
The manual-focus ring, which is continuously available for making adjustments in AF mode, is broad and perfectly located. Similarly, the three slider switches that determine the focusing mode, focusing range and VR activation all fall naturally under the left thumb, but there are no tactile clues that distinguish them, so they cannot be set as instinctively as they would otherwise.
When fitted to a full-frame D700 body, which was used for most of this test, the lens focuses very quickly and quietly: switching to a DX-format D80 sacrificed a bit in both respects but not to a serious extent. A curious quirk is Nikon’s decision to base its aperture information on the focal-plane brightness rather than the f-stop, so as the lens focuses closer the indicated (effective) aperture changes, even though the f-stop setting remains fixed.
Although VR technology is on offer this feature is not as useful in macro photography as it might be elsewhere because the depth-of-field at high magnification ratios is so small that cameras are frequently tripod-mounted to ensure sharp focusing – and as soon as a tripod comes into play the benefit offered by vibration reduction is diminished.
MTF testing reveals that this is a very sharp lens in the normal (non-macro) world, recording about 0.3 cycles-per-pixel from wide-open down to f/16. These results were similar on the D80, though the wide-open performance was slightly weaker. This might be important for portraiture (when slightly softer images are often preferred) but for close-up work it is irrelevant. Overall, this is an impressive lens but the addition of VR technology to improve hand-held sharpness is probably not fully justified in a macro lens and there could be a case for saying that this lens packs-in more than it needs to deliver.
These are very consistent results at a high level across the common-aperture range.