thoughts on the AF MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8 D Macro Lens

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vincemartino
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thoughts on the AF MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8 D Macro Lens

Post by vincemartino » February 9th, 2013, 10:38 am

I'm finally getting a macro lens... the AF MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8 D. I found it for a steal in perfect condition and I know it's, optically, a great piece of glass. Only problem is I have a D5000 so I will be limited to manual focus until I get a body with a built in motor. I don't mind this as I rarely use autofocus on the newer lenses that I own.

I'm really just looking for some feedback from anyone that owns this lens and uses it for herping. Some tips for manual shooting moving animals? Drawbacks to its construction? Pretty much any thoughts you have!

Thanks,
Vince

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Re: thoughts on the AF MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8 D Macro Lens

Post by bgorum » February 9th, 2013, 12:16 pm

Its a good lens. I haven't owned one since back when I shot film though. When I first got mine the first thing I noticed about it was how much sharper it was than my old manual focus 105 f4 micro was, up until about f11. Past f11 there is a noticable drop in sharpness. I still think the AF lens was at least as sharp as the MF at f16 and smaller, it was just that the AF was so much better at larger apertures that it was easy to see the drop off in sharpness that defraction caused at smaller stops. The next thing I noticed about the AF lens was how much less working distance it had when used for macro work copared to the manual focus lens. As far as manual focusing goes, if I remeber correctly there is an auto/manual focus switch on the lens and when set to manual it does a nice job of stiffining up the focusing ring and making precise mf easier. The one thing about the lens I remeber not liking was that the lens has some focus breathing. This means that if you get you scenec framed just as you want it, but it is out of focus, your framing will change slightly when you refocus. This is probably no big deal if you hand hold, but it was a pain when using a tripod.

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Re: thoughts on the AF MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8 D Macro Lens

Post by vincemartino » February 9th, 2013, 9:11 pm

Thanks for the quick reply and input!

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Re: thoughts on the AF MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8 D Macro Lens

Post by Tonia Graves » February 10th, 2013, 4:01 pm

I've never owned the 105mm, but I currently have the 200mm Micro lens by Nikon and it is by far my sharpest lens. I have to focus it manually on my D5100, so a tripod becomes a must in low light or at high magnifications. One of the things I like about this lens is that I can be further away from my subject while still getting frame-filling shots.

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Re: thoughts on the AF MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8 D Macro Lens

Post by jamezevanz » February 10th, 2013, 8:47 pm

I use the Nikon 105mm F 2.8 for most of my macro herp photography. It's really sharp and the perfect range of focus for me. I have also used the 60mm and it's great for small animals like salamanders that I can get really close to, but the 105 gives me some breathing room and I can use it to get nice shots of crotes from just beyond the strike zone. I have also used it for hummingbirds. When none of my telephoto lenses could give me sharp shots of hummers from 6-8 feet away, I moved in close with the 105 and immediately got tack sharp images once the birds got used to me being so close. The model I have is older so it's slow on the autofocus but I usually manually focus macros anyway. What I'll do is pre-focus at the distance I want the critter and then move the camera (and my body) to maintain that distance. Using the focus ring to adjust focus will zoom in or out (macro creep) and thus effect your composition. Besides, even a really fast autofocusing lens can't usually track a skittering lizard or squirming snake, so you just have to be patient, wait for them to hold a pose you like, and then adjust the distance of the camera to achieve focus.

-Jamez

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Re: thoughts on the AF MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8 D Macro Lens

Post by gabrielgartner » February 11th, 2013, 11:07 am

I love the 105, but on a crop sensor camera, you might be better off with a 60mm. It's easier to fill the frame on a 60 with most animals plus you'll get more depth of field to work with which if you're handholding and trying to shoot closeups or true 1:1 you definitely want.

Any decent sized snake or lizard and you'll have to put too much room between you and the animal with the 105 which is a pain if you're trying to position it/keep it from moving away. I agree it's good for hots, but I also sometimes put a 5T closeup lens on my 70-300VR for animals I need to keep out of biting range.

Also, the 105 is crazy sharp, but to maximize the sharpness, put it on a tripod if you can. Last thing, the 105 is a much bigger lens (size and weight) than people realize. It will really weigh down anything smaller than a d300/d700 which again makes it difficult to handhold when trying to take closeup shots...plus it can be a pain to hike around with. If I'm in my car road cruising I don't care but if I'm out hiking 10 miles and can only take one lens, I much prefer the 60.

Just my 2 cents.
Gabriel

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Re: thoughts on the AF MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8 D Macro Lens

Post by vincemartino » February 11th, 2013, 12:58 pm

Thanks a ton for the feedback!

"I can use it to get nice shots of crotes from just beyond the strike zone." This what I was mainly why I went with the 105 rather than 60. I'm glad you said this. Also hummingbirds are something I really want to get into, as a friend of mine really loves them and has shined some light on how fun it can be. Also I love shooting insects, and 90% of all my herp shots are en situ. I believe in treating my subjects with the utmost compassion and respect. I think the extra wiggle room will allow me to do that. Plus I heard that with the 60 sometimes you have to get so close when shooting macro that it limits your light, another reason why I thought the 105 was a better idea.

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Re: thoughts on the AF MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8 D Macro Lens

Post by gabrielgartner » February 11th, 2013, 1:43 pm

vincemartino wrote:Thanks a ton for the feedback!

Plus I heard that with the 60 sometimes you have to get so close when shooting macro that it limits your light, another reason why I thought the 105 was a better idea.
If you're actually shooting macro and don't want just a sharp portrait lens, you're going to need some sort of flash system. If all you have is your on-camera pop-up flash, then getting too close with a 60 might limit light, but if you have anything you can remotely fire (anything like an sb-600 to 900) you'll want to get the camera right up in the face of the critter and get the flash even closer. When shooting macro, the closer the flash, the less power it outputs for a given amount of needed light and the softer that light is.

I would say that your flash system for macro is as important as the lens choice you make, maybe even more.

Eventually, you'll want something like this.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/revie ... r1c1.shtml

Also, check out the following blogs...the first is a macro dedicated site and the second is all about lighting and flash (use the free online course on strobist "lighting 101"...it's fantastic!)

http://nocroppingzone.blogspot.com/

http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/

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Re: thoughts on the AF MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8 D Macro Lens

Post by bgorum » February 11th, 2013, 2:35 pm

I think the decision between the 60 and the 105 comes down to how you like to shoot. If you like taking posed pictures of herps you may find the 105 requires you to be more than a comfortable arms length away from larger species, which can make manipulating them more difficult. If you prefer shooting in situ, then the longer lens would definitely be better. Ultimately you may end up with both, and maybe the 200 micro too! I'm going to disagree with Gabriel on one point, and that is that you do not get more depth of field with the 60 than you do with the 105. Depth of field is a function of magnification and aperture, so if you are shooting the same scene, lets say at 1:1 with both lenses at f11, the depth of field will be the same. You would however include more of the background with the 60 than the 105.

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Re: thoughts on the AF MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8 D Macro Lens

Post by vincemartino » February 11th, 2013, 4:24 pm

gabrielgartner wrote:
vincemartino wrote:Thanks a ton for the feedback!

Plus I heard that with the 60 sometimes you have to get so close when shooting macro that it limits your light, another reason why I thought the 105 was a better idea.
If you're actually shooting macro and don't want just a sharp portrait lens, you're going to need some sort of flash system. If all you have is your on-camera pop-up flash, then getting too close with a 60 might limit light, but if you have anything you can remotely fire (anything like an sb-600 to 900) you'll want to get the camera right up in the face of the critter and get the flash even closer. When shooting macro, the closer the flash, the less power it outputs for a given amount of needed light and the softer that light is.

I would say that your flash system for macro is as important as the lens choice you make, maybe even more.

Eventually, you'll want something like this.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/revie ... r1c1.shtml

Also, check out the following blogs...the first is a macro dedicated site and the second is all about lighting and flash (use the free online course on strobist "lighting 101"...it's fantastic!)

http://nocroppingzone.blogspot.com/

http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/
Thanks! I have a speedlite, and I'm looking for a macro flash set-up like that one but it might be a while before i can throw down the money on one. Any opinions on using the speedlite slaved to the built-in flash for hitting shadowed areas where sunlight isn't directed? Obviously way more work, but I think I could still get decent shots.

And yea bgorum, i agree dof isn't a function of the particular lens but a function of aperture

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Re: thoughts on the AF MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8 D Macro Lens

Post by jamezevanz » February 11th, 2013, 5:23 pm

I have long orangutan arms so I've never had much problem manipulating herps while using the 105. As for weight, the 105 is actually the lightest of the four lenses I carry in the field (not always at the same time but if you enjoy being a photographic pack mule, I recommend investing in a newswear chest vest- it's what civilian combat photographers carry their kits in to reduce trips to the chiropractor). As for flash, try buying or making a portable softbox for your speed light - about a foot wide is big enough for most herps while still fitting nicely into a backpack. Get it as close to your subject as possible without it being in the frame. Play with angles, sometimes the most counterintuitive light arrangement will pay off, depending on subject. Creativity has a way of being serendipitous, bordering on accidental. You don't need a two flash setup, usually you can balance your settings with ambient light to fill shadows. If there is no ambient, bring a piece of white posterboard with you (with some sort of brace so it stands upright). Place it opposite your speed light / softbox rig and it will reflect a fraction of the light from your flash back and give you detail in the shadows. My ghetto reflector is actually a white sleeve that protects my collapsed softbox when it's in my pack. Finally if you're using a pop-up flash with speed lights, eventually you'll get tired of always having to arrange the flashes so their sensor is not blocked by the softbox or facing the wrong direction, causing them not to fire. A pair of radio slaves will save you some frustration- initial setup takes an extra minute of two but having your strobes fire perfectly every time saves more time and more importantly reduces stress on the critter because you nail shots the first time around. Cactus triggers have served me well and are cheap- $40-ish per tranciever.

-Jamez

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Re: thoughts on the AF MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8 D Macro Lens

Post by gabrielgartner » February 12th, 2013, 9:20 am

I misspoke above...let me clarify what I was saying about depth of field so that we're all in agreement. Yes, if both lenses are at 0.5x magnification or (1:1 it doesn't matter) and say f4, the depth of field will be the same, but to achieve that same magnification, the 60mm lens will need to be much closer than the 105 (240mm versus 420mm at 1:1 for the 60 and 105 respectively). Now assume both lenses are at equal distance to the subject (a venomous snake for which you simply cannot get closer without risking life and limb) and both are set to f4, the 60 will absolutely have a greater depth of field because the magnification (image size on the sensor) will be smaller.

Check out this great website for an outstanding explanation on the optics involved in macro photography...Also, this (from the same website):

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutori ... lenses.htm
However, another consideration is that shorter focal lengths often provide a more three-dimensional and immersive photograph. This is especially true with macro lenses, because the greater effective focal length will tend to flatten perspective. Using the shortest focal length available will help offset this effect and provide a greater sense of depth.

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Re: thoughts on the AF MICRO NIKKOR 105mm 1:2.8 D Macro Lens

Post by vincemartino » February 12th, 2013, 10:55 am

Gotchaaaa, that makes sense now.

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