Review – “The Beast”

So, what are you doing during your city’s COVID-19 lockdown? I’m blogging myself. There is a trend online where photographers are posting photos of objects in and around their homes and I am doing the same. But, also, I am taking the time to bring in some actual content to go with my photos.

As was seen in a previous post, I inherited a large bag filled to the with Nikon gear from my late father. While I am still struggling to figure out what all the buttons on Nikon cameras do and how they work (intuitiveness is not Nikon’s strong-suit), I am also discovering lenses that I have never worked with before. Lenses such as this monstrosity, the AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 IF-ED lens.

Yes, I am aware that the movies in the background are out of order. Given the width, length with the hood attached and the weight, it’s clear why I’ve nicknamed it “the beast.”

Weighing in at 24.5 ounces (I think Nikon’s marketing department was afraid to measure it as its truly hefty 1 and a half pounds) with a glass diameter of about 3 inches, I fail to see anything about this lens that lives up to the “micro” in its name. While I could glaze over your eyes with statistics and aperture readings, that just isn’t my style. I’m not Ken Rockwell and I don’t pretend to be. Rather, I’ll go into pros and cons.

The Good

The bokeh is frosty smooth like nothing I’ve ever encountered before. If you are looking for that object with the beautifully blurred background, then this is your lens, as can be seen here in this image from the apple tree in our back yard. The 1:1 magnification ratio that Nikon boasts for this lens is apparent here, given the blossom was only about as big as the end of my thumb.

The very impressive magnification can be seen in this image, which is a flower in our grass the size of a finger nail.

Even when not at close range, this lens is still very sharp and it captures color quite nicely, as can be seen here.

The Bad

It’s heavy. One and a half pounds doesn’t seem like much, but it feels much heavier. I would not want this around my neck for extended periods of time.

When doing close range macro photos, auto focusing is difficult. You can see where I was trying to get this flower shot, but the auto focus kept trying to get the petals in focus. You can see where the petals look great and you can see the details, but the pollen in the foreground is blurry. Part of that is probably operator error. I have found Nikon to be much more sensitive, the slightest press setting off the shutter. The auto focus is also very fast and very sensitive, much more so than Canon (at least with the lenses I have). I am not used to that.

Overall Impression

If you’re able to deal with the weight of the lens, the results at any range can be extremely exciting. With an all metal casing and a lot of big, solid glass, it’s definitely durable and allows for a lot of light. It’s definitely not a lens for the pedestrian traveller or the street photographer. If you’re seeking flowers, butterflies, or obscurity in macro, this lens can produce images that nothing else can due to its focal length allowing you to get close but not too close to such things, as you would have to do with lens in the 50mm range.

Be safe, try to keep others as safe as you can, and also shoot photos, not each other!

23 replies to “Review – “The Beast”

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