Review of the Nikon Micro-Nikkor 105mm 1:4 Ai-S Lens (f/4).
This lens was introduced as the 105mm f/4 bellows lens of 1970, and in 1975 it was introduced as a regular focusing F-mount lens in the pre-AI (K) variant. It was then made into the Ai F-mount version in 1977, and finally into this Ai-S version in 1981 (until 1983, 40 years ago). About 25,000 units were produced in the Ai-S version and about 45,000 units were produced in the Ai version making for a whopping 70,000 units combined.
This lens goes to a 1:2 reproduction ratio on its own and then to 1:1 when used with the PN-11 extension tube (a necessary part). Concerning focusing at its 1:1 reproduction ratio, it is very hard to see the subject when using a DSLR due to the maximum aperture of only f/4. It is much easier with a mirrorless camera.
This sharp little lens exhibits somewhat high color fringing for a slow prime lens, but this is easily removed in post.
This lens has basically no distortion to deal with. This is common to the Micro-Nikkor line.
The bokeh is only fair because highlights take on the shape of the diaphragm which is the shape of a heptagon.
Flaring is not too bad because, while the coatings are primitive, there are too few number of elements to cause a great deal of reflections inside the lens. Ghosting is moderate again thanks to the few number of elements.
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. There is a long, useful hood built into this lens, something missing from its faster
This is an all-metal design with excellent manual focusing. There is no play in the focus
collar. The build quality is high.
Why use a teleconverter with macro? To replace the extension tube, or to achieve greater reproduction ratios, or magnification.
The TC-14A, TC-201, TC-14 and TC-300 teleconverters all mount without issue.
Without extension tube, the TC-300 can barely mount to give a magnifcation of 1× (1:1 reproduction ratio). Combine the TC-300 with the 52.5mm PN-11 to reach 2:1, but do not expect a bright image. Focusing is difficult. Also, depth of field will be fairly shallow.
Honestly, color fringing, which is easily removed in post, is a bit on the high side, but it is rather high regardless of use of a teleconverter or not — remember, teleconverters just magnify. Notice the vignetting occuring in the PN-11 + TC-300 + TC-14A image. This would be a good image to use DX mode on to eliminate the vignetting.
For some reason, color fringing, though present, seems a little better on images with teleconverters attached.
Focal length: 105mm
Maximum aperture: f/4
Minimum aperture: f/32
ø52mm filter ring
Lens construction: 5 lens elements in 3 groups
Picture angle: 23°20'
Focus: 0.47m/1.5ft. to infinity with infrared focus index — 0.419m/1.37ft. with optional 52.5mm PN-11 extension tube
1:2 (0.5×) reproduction ratio — 1:1 (1×) with optional PN-11 extension tube