Nikon Micro-Nikkor 105mm 1:2.8 Ai-S Lens (f/2.8)

Review of the Nikon Micro-Nikkor 105mm 1:2.8 Ai-S Lens (f/2.8).

Overall Rating:

The first macro lens in this focal length was the 105mm f/4 bellows lens of 1970 which, in 1975, was introduced as a regular focusing F-mount lens in the pre-AI (K) variant. It was then made into an Ai F-mount version starting in 1977 and an Ai-S F-mount version in 1981. Then in 1983, this Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 Ai-S lens was introduced with at least 80,000 being made. It was discontinued in 2020, 3 years ago.

Unlike the Micro-Nikkor f/4 Ai-S lens, this lens features Close Range Correction (CRC) to maximize sharpness for both near and far subjects.

compared to the Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4 Ai-S
the Nikkor 300mm f/4.5 ED IF Ai-S, Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 Ai-S and Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 Ai-S

This lens goes to a 1:2 reproduction ratio on its own and then to 1:0.88 when used with the PN-11 extension tube (a necessary part). When focused to its 1:0.88 reproduction ratio, it is hard to see the subject when using a DSLR due to how dark the image is, but it is better than the Micro-Nikkor f/4 Ai-S lens. Focusing is much easier with mirrorless cameras.

fly at 1:0.9 reproduction ratio using PN-11 extension tube — DX mode (detail)

This sharp little lens exhibits some color fringing, but it is easily removed in post processing. The color fringing is less than the f/4 version.

transformer, very sharp but with some color fringing (detail)

Common in the Micro-Nikkor line, these lenses have basically no distortion.

The bokeh is only fair because highlights take on the shape of the diaphragm which is the shape of a heptagon. Wide-open (f/2.8) the bokeh is nice save for a touch of LoCA at very high magnifications.

bokeh f/2.8
bokeh f/4
bokeh f/5.6

Flaring is not too bad considering the high number of elements this lens has. The same for ghosting.

ghosting at f/2.8
flaring at f/32

Infrared photography is a problem for this lens as there is a hotspot at the smallest aperture.

infrared at f/32

This lens is Ai-S compatible so it will work with some Nikon bodies in program and aperture priority mode and the front element does NOT rotate when focusing so using a polarizer is easier. The hood for this lens is the Nikon HS-14.

This is an all-metal design with excellent manual focusing. There is no play in the focus collar. The build quality is very high.

This lens has a focus and depth of field scale, and unlike newer lenses, the focus collar stops at infinity.

Diffraction begins around f/8, but because depth of field is so important, good results can be had using f/11 when doing macro photography. Diffraction becomes too great when the f-stop is smaller than this.

Using Teleconverters

Why use a teleconverter with macro... To increase magnification!

The TC-14A and TC-201 teleconverters mount without issue. The TC-14 and TC-300 require extension tubes be mounted. For the TC-14, use the 14mm PK-12 extension tube. For the TC-300, use the 52.5mm PN-11 extension tube, or a combination of PK extension tubes, like the PK-13 + PK-11 as a minimum. Using extension tubes, and teleconverters for that matter, will darken the image considerably.

With the PN-11 extension tube and TC-300 mounted, a 2.2:1 reproduction ratio can be achieved, but depth of field will be quite shallow. The following images are full-frame / FX mode.

fly, using PN-11 extension tube and TC-300 teleconverter (detail)
salt, using PN-11 extension tube and TC-300 teleconverter (detail)
euro, using PN-11 extension tube and TC-300 teleconverter (detail)
euro, using PN-11 extension tube and TC-300 + TC-14 teleconverters (detail)
euro, using PN-11 extension tube and TC-300 + TC-14a teleconverters (detail)
transformer, using TC-201 teleconverter (detail)
transformer, using TC-14A teleconverter (detail)

The resolution does not really improve with these teleconverters attached. Notice the hard vignetting occuring in the PN-11 + TC-300 + TC-14A in the last image. Otherwise, the image appears very similar to the PN-11 + TC-300 + TC-14 combination. This lens does not have vignetting when used without the TC-14A teleconverter.

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