200 Micro - 105VR Shootout

Started Nov 5, 2006 | Discussions thread
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PhotoQuests Contributing Member • Posts: 715
200 Micro - 105VR Shootout

I have had the 200mm f4D AF Micro Nikkor for a couple of years now and it has been a really fun and sharp lens. It is heavy and difficult to take hiking so it stayed home quite often. I just bought the 105VR Micro Nikkor with the idea of building a ligher weight hiking kit that would include the Sigma 10-20, 45p, 105VR and a 1.7TC II for a little more reach.

The 200 Micro Nikkor is very sharp (probalby a little sharper than my 70-200VR) and I did not want to compromise that, so I did a very unscientific shootout between the 105 and the 200. I want to sell the 200 to finance another lens but I needed to be convinced that the 105 could replace it.

A couple of caveats:

  • This is totally uncontrolled - just like a field session always is.

  • I really wanted the 105 to win but I really love my 200.

  • For the macros I used a tripod and turned off the VR and manual focused both lenses.

  • Shot with a D2X RAW and PP in PS

  • Don't use the results of this to test to make a purchase decision, do your own testing.

Here are some details and the samples:

First Sample - I wanted to maintain the same image size so the 105 shot was taken about 6" from the seed and the 200 was about 12"

Shots were different f stops due to the characteristics of macros when you approach the minimum close focus difference.
200mm was 1/500 at f5
105mm was 1/640 at f4.8

Focus point was at the base of the seed where all of the fronds meet. A PP was the same for both images, sharpen and curves.

200mm Micro Nikkor full frame image

200 Micro Nikkor 100% Crop

105VR full frame image

105VR 100% crop

Comments - I was surprised by the CA that the 105 produced compared to the 200. Of couse, since I was twice as close with the 105 I also had to twist the branch to get a similar perspective so this may have created a different reflection and higher CA. DOF is also less on the 105 because of the closer focus and slightly larger f stop (like 1/64" less!)

Here is another sample (100% crops only) with the same setup as above but smaller aperature.

200mm 1/200 at f8

105mm 1/200 at f7.1 (the lenses meter a little differently I think)

Comments - Very close here, again, the 105 has a shallower DOF because it is twice as close. If you go to 200% you can also see more specular chroma noise (CA?), very surprising when you consider that the 200 is an older element design without the Nano Crystal blah blah blah. Good marketing Nikon but.....?

Here is a couple of B&W's shot from 10' with the 105 and 20' with the 200.

200mm 1/320 at f9

105mm 1/350 at f9.5 (lens meters different I'm pretty sure)

Comments - I really like the shallower DOF and OOF characteristics of the 200. The working distance of the 200 is a little wierd on the digital bodies but like I said, it is a fun lens. The 105VR will probably win you more shots, especially when you use it in the non-macro mode. As I was shooting both, the 105VR with VR on was sharper for hand held shots as I was walking around. I had to put the 200 on a tripod to get the same sharpness. This fits in nicely with my plan to carry it as a short tele and macro for longer hiking trips.

Will I get rid of the 200? Well, my wife will divorce me if I buy that 200-400VR without selling some of my old lenses. I am really going to miss my wife.

Here is one from this morning with the 105 50% crop.

Let me know if you have any questions, I'll be happy to help.
I can't draw therefore I shoot!

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