AF-D Micro 105mm vs. 105VR sharpness

Started Oct 15, 2006 | Discussions thread
Pierre Sottas Contributing Member • Posts: 787
general macro lenses impressions

here are my impressions for these lenses on a Nikon body. I did shoot with all these lenses, sometimes only a few days and sometimes many years. Note that these remarks hold for close up work only, several lenses are worse performers when shooting distant subjects.

  • micro Nikkor 60: very sharp lens (less sharp at distance), good (but not exceptional) bokeh for a 60mm, very poor working distance (close to zero at 1:1), better IQ on film than digital.

  • Tamron 90 DI: sharpest lens ever for digital bodies, very nice ring for manual focusing, looks not sturdy at first sight but I never had a problem with that lens, very good lens IMO.

  • Sigma 105, two samples: first copy was definitely soft wide open, the second was a bit better, chromatic aberrations are visible, becomes as good as the competitors at f5.6-f8.

  • 80-400 VR + Canon 500D close up: a heavy combination for a very long working distance, excellent combination for macros of insects, sharp at f8-f11, very versatile and practical in the field.

  • micro Nikkor 105 AF-D: good IQ but not exceptional, traces of chromatic aberrations, the worst micro Nikkor in my opinion.

  • micro Nikkor 105 AF-S VR: I was lucky enough to receive this lens the first day of its introduction here in Switzerland. Very sharp both at close up and at distance, very crisp images, superb bokeh. This is the first lens that allows me to use AF for macro work. AF can hunt sometimes, but after a few days of practice I am able now to lock AF 99% of the times (I first lock AF on the subject at 1:10 magnification ratio and than progressively shorten the distance in continuous AF). VR works well and I can manage critically sharp images at 1/60 at 1:1 with this lens (compared to 1/250 with the 105 AF-D). A dream lens if you shoot handheld. However, I do not recomment this lens if you use a tripod because framing changes when focusing the lens.

Examples that I posted here a few months ago:

ghost, flare and bokeh with the 105 AF-S VR:

general IQ of the 105 VR:

In summary, with regard to your original question, my personal opinion is that IQ of the new 105 AF-S VR is definitively better than the old 105 AF-D, and equal to the 60 micro (if not better if mounted on a DSLR).

Hope this helps. Happy macro
Pierre

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