Review of the Nikkor Z MC 105 f2.8 VR S

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Rich Rosen Veteran Member • Posts: 3,147
Review of the Nikkor Z MC 105 f2.8 VR S
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When Nikon announced this lens along with the MC 50 2.8, I immediately ordered it. I have to admit I have GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), but this purchase isn't about that (????)! I really needed a new Macro lens, since my Sigma F mount 105 f2.8D EX; a 22 year old veteran, which was actually nearing obsolescence and no longer a contender for one of the best macros, was extremely cumbersome to use on a Z mount camera. On a Nikon DSLR its focusing was very slow, but you had the option to use AF or go manual. But because it did not have a built in focusing motor (in Sigma parlance; HSM), to go manual you had to switch both camera and lens into manual focusing. On a Z with FTZ, that wasn't an issue, but it still wasn't a picnic to set up for a shoot. It also required the use of an FTZ, which is the one of the best lens mount adapters, but still far from a perfect adapter. So the decision to upgrade.

I received the new MC 105 on the first or second day. Initial impressions: for a mirrorless lens, its big! In fact its big for a 105 macro lens period. Its larger than the F mount 105 f2.8 VR. And when you use the hood, its gets larger by almost half the length of the lens, without it. But its size belies its weight. It weighs in at 630 grams (1.39 lbs). Despite it being larger than the Z 24-70 f2.8, the 105 is slightly less than 4/10 lb lighter. As is typical of the "Professional S Lenses" (as opposed to the "enthusiast S lenses"), its looks hide its build quality. No gold rings advertising that this is a better built lens than the 1.8S primes. But there is a slight difference in the S mark on this lens; its larger than on the other "professional S lenses." and font is more garish. The only way you can tell the difference between a pro and enthusiast S lens is the Pro models has an electronic display window, a L-Fn button and an extra function control dial, separate from the focusing control dial. Since this is a Prime the display window displays f stops, focusing distance and macro ratio down to 1:1. The L-Fn button can be control about 21 different functions. The function control dial be set for 3 different functions including Aperture, and ISO, and exposure compensation, and the 4th; none. The focusing control dial can be set to be used only in manual mode or to fine tune Af. As is the case of the all Z mount lenses, it has A/M switch. But it adds a focus limiting switch. You set the switch to "FULL" or ".5 M(ETER) to .29M(ETER)" for macro use.

Initially when I tested its AF, I was surprised that it was noisier than other Z mount lenses. It also hunted more than I would have expected. That seems to have disappeared, or maybe I'm used to it, because Im not noticing it now. The focusing is fast , but does not snap into focus immediately. Its gradual.The Z mount S lenses seemed to have been built with video in mind. I've noticed that while focusing gets there quickly, it comes into focus gradually, not snapping from point a to b instantly. Its a smooth transition. Friends who do video, tell me that this is very good for videos. Too bad that it can be noisy when auto focusing. It is certainly faster than my Sigma on a DSLR, which hunted incessantly before finding the mark, especially in macro.

It was raining the first day I got the lens, so I wasn't able to take flowers and bugs so I chose an old vintage TLR, the Kodak Reflex as my subject:

And on my first sunny day I got a duck

If you go into gallery, you'll see that the first two have a higher Pixel count than the duck. I cropped Donald to about 1.8 MPixels, which is about 1/5th the size of the Kodak's pictures. In all three images color rendering is excellent and sharpness is really there.

My judgement is that the Z MC 105 f2.8 VR S is an excellent lens. The Pros:

  1. Its sharp
  2. For a macro lens it's is fast.
  3. It has VR.
  4. Its light.
  5. Bokeh is nice.
  6. It can be used as macro lens or a people lens.

The cons:

  1. Its big
  2. Focusing can be noisy
  3. Focusing could be faster
  4. The function control dial; does not have detentes to let you know by feel that you changed a setting. This is true of all Z S lenses.
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Rich Rosen

 Rich Rosen's gear list:Rich Rosen's gear list
Nikon D1X Fujifilm X-E3 Nikon Z6 II Sigma 1.4x EX DG Tele Converter Sigma 2x EX DG Tele Converter +17 more
Nikon Nikkor Z MC 105mm F2.8 VR S
Telephoto macro prime lens • Nikon Z
Announced: Jun 2, 2021
Rich Rosen's score
4.5
Average community score
4.3
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