105mm f/1.8 or 105mm 2.8 VR ?

Started Apr 25, 2006 | Discussions
ngeiger Regular Member • Posts: 280
105mm f/1.8 or 105mm 2.8 VR ?

Hi,

I have an opportunity to buy a new (unused) 105mm f/1.8 Ai-S lens. According to photodo, this ranks as one of sharpest Nikkor lenses.

It's a focal length I would find very useful, but I've been holding out to buy the 105mm f/2.8 VR lens.

Anyone have any thoughts on which would be the better purchase?

Thanks

anotherMike Forum Pro • Posts: 10,493
Re: 105mm f/1.8 or 105mm 2.8 VR ?

I'd suspect the VR would be the sharpest lens - if that's your primary parameter.

I used to own the 105/1.8, and honestly, as much as that lens was awesome in it's time, my 105/2 DC blows it away.

I haven't gotten a good handle on the 105 VR for people work yet - can't afford it at this time, but I have a feeling it's more a "sharp/contrasty" lens than a portrait lens - so it might be just the ticket for you.

-m

WFAdams
WFAdams Senior Member • Posts: 1,618
Re: 105mm f/1.8 or 105mm 2.8 VR ?

Hi:

I have the 105 f1.8 lens, but not the new VR. My only observation is that these lenses are remarkably different in both purpose and capability.

If you can afford to have a specialty lens or two waiting around for the right moment, get both of them. One is a particularly good longer portrait lens. In the days of manual focus cameras using full frame 35mm film, 105mm was a popular focal length for head and shoulders fashion portraiture, and the f1.8 lens was really very good in that role. For reasons that elude me, the 105mm f2.5 was always more popular with Nikon SLR users -- amateurs and pros alike.

The f1.8 did not sell well in the old days, despite being very sharp even wide open (and very good at the edges), and very fast for 105mm lenses. But with the DX format, the wider f1.8 f-stop becomes relevant for helping to blur the OOF areas to a more creamy texture. And the edges are closer to the sweet area of the lens in DX format, too. Of course, the f1.8 is a manual lens (with a clunky built-in hood).

As for the new 105mm VR, not only does it do macro work, but also it is AF-S, and has VR. It may be too sharp for some portrait work, but if you like extra-sharp images, you probably will not go wrong. It's main design is not aimed at portraiture; it is aimed at macro to middle distance. I have not seen any shots at infinity to tell you how sharp it is out there, or how fast the motor focuses at infinity, despite being geared for close-up work. You can use it for hard-to-focus fast moving subjects because of the AF-S, and you can use it in low light handheld for static subjects because of the VR II. These are unique qualities, but may not be what you need if you decide to use it for straight potraiture.

The new lens is by far the more versatile, given all of its capabilities. But, this is really a different animal from the f1.8 AI-S, which may be your best choice of the two for portraiture, expecially of men who can benefit from this long-ish focal length for DX portraiture. For female and child portraits a shorter focal length of 85mm or less may be a better choice than either of the two lenses discussed here.

Personally, I'd get both. I certainly plan to pick up the 105mm VR, but mainly for macro and short distance images to supplement the 60mm micro, also a very good lens.

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Bill Adams

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 WFAdams's gear list:WFAdams's gear list
Nikon D800 Sony RX100 Nikon D700 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED +7 more
brokenz Veteran Member • Posts: 9,098
The 105mm 1.8 is 100 times better...

There is no doubt and nobody here can deny that the 105mm 1.8 is 100 times better than the newer VR lens in sharpness at f/1.8.

Honestly if you want the reduced DOF that 1.8 can provide then get the 105mm 1.8. If not then get the VR lens. That would be what I would base my choice on solely.
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ianz28 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,480
I think that's a better comparison Mike.

Both lenses cost about the same. Be interesting to see a comparison between the two.
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 ianz28's gear list:ianz28's gear list
Nikon Z6 Nikon Z 50mm F1.8 Nikon Z 85mm F1.8 Nikon Z 20mm F1.8 Nikon Z MC 105mm F2.8 VR S +3 more
Joe Mondello Veteran Member • Posts: 3,615
105VR "Best Pro lens" of 2006

at TIPA

http://www.tipa.com/awa_2006.lasso

I have no clue about the 1.8, but the 105VR is a damn fine piece of glass!

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Cheers,
Joe

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ianz28 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,480
I read that and my thought was........

the award was given to that lens because it's the most innovative thing to happen in lens design for a long time.
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 ianz28's gear list:ianz28's gear list
Nikon Z6 Nikon Z 50mm F1.8 Nikon Z 85mm F1.8 Nikon Z 20mm F1.8 Nikon Z MC 105mm F2.8 VR S +3 more
brokenz Veteran Member • Posts: 9,098
Re: I read that and my thought was........

ianz28 wrote:

the award was given to that lens because it's the most innovative
thing to happen in lens design for a long time.
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I agree. That award is no indication of quality vs. another item.
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virtuamike Veteran Member • Posts: 3,569
Re: 105mm f/1.8 or 105mm 2.8 VR ?

The 105/VR is definitely more versatile, but whether or not it's practical is up for debate. Personally I'd never use AF for macro because I hate composing according to where the AF sensors are, in which case MF is the way to go. I can see the AF-S and VR being useful in more general shooting, but at that point why not just go for the 70-200 or 105/DC?

The 105/1.8 is a beautiful lens. At the same time, it can't be cheap if you're buying it new and unused. I lucked out and got mine for $300 used, and it's rare that I ever see them in that price range. It's sharp and I love the image quality, but again I don't know how much you're saving.

A couple 105/1.8 samples from last weekend.

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OP ngeiger Regular Member • Posts: 280
Re: 105mm f/1.8 or 105mm 2.8 VR ?

virtuamike ,

Woww. I think you just helped me decide. Thanks for sending those pics.

You're right, the lens doesn't come cheap brand new. But I think I'll be eating ramen for a couple of weeks.

virtuamike wrote:

ianz28 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,480
You could always.........(4 imgs)

You could get the 105 f2.5. It's a little smaller and has essentially the same image characteristics - just f2.5 instead of f1.8. It's almost the same lens. But, the big PLUS of the f2.5 is that it's readily available used around the $100 price point. The focus ring/aperture is a joy to use on these old Steel bodied lenses though - very solid.

it's actually a very small lens. 52mm threads like the 35f2 and 50's and about 1.5x longer but, a lot heavier.

think I'm going to have to mount it up and take some pics with it as I havent had it on my camera for months.

Ian

p.s. keep in mind that using these old manual lenses on a D50/D70 can be a bit of a pain with the viewfinder.

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 ianz28's gear list:ianz28's gear list
Nikon Z6 Nikon Z 50mm F1.8 Nikon Z 85mm F1.8 Nikon Z 20mm F1.8 Nikon Z MC 105mm F2.8 VR S +3 more
OP ngeiger Regular Member • Posts: 280
Re: You could always.........(4 imgs)

ianz28 wrote:

You could get the 105 f2.5. It's a little smaller and has
essentially the same image characteristics - just f2.5 instead of
f1.8.

I've heard rumours that the 105mm 1.8 is sharper than the 2.5 (photodo.com and other places). That may or not be the true - however, I really like the idea of being able to use a 105mm lense for low light / available light.

Therefore, I would be very interested if you could tell me whether 105mm f/1.8 produces usable images wide open.

Photodo rates the 105/1.4 on a level with the 85/1.4 - according to there MTF rating system. But is it as usable wide open as the 85/1.4 is?

For example, here is a picture I took with the 85/1.4 at f1.4 :

Shawn Foo Regular Member • Posts: 173
Re: The 105mm 1.8 is 100 times better...

brokenz wrote:

There is no doubt and nobody here can deny that the 105mm 1.8 is
100 times better than the newer VR lens in sharpness at f/1.8.

I disagree... The VR gets a score of zero at 1.8
100 x 0 = 0

So I'm really hoping it's something other than 100 times better.. ;p
Okay.. call me a smart a* ...

Shawn

virtuamike Veteran Member • Posts: 3,569
Yes, usable wide open

I don't have too many shots with it wide open but yes, it's usable. I'd rate it above the 85/1.8 and 50/1.4 wide open, but below the 85/1.4 wide open.

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