Shootout: Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED vs Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G ED: Beaver-Gnawed Dead Aspen
This close-range aperture series compares Nikon’s 105mm macro lens. Any macro lens ought to be a very strong performer at this range: first, a macro lens should be optimized for close range, and second, the Nikon 105mm f/1.4E ED has to contend with being 2 stops faster and a general purpose non-macro lens.
The comparison is compelling and a must-view for anyone looking to see what state of the art lens design can do in which a general purpose lense trounces a dedicated macro lens. Wow.
Images up to 28 megapixels for apertures from f/1.4 - f/13. A very large crop of the key area is also included, also from f/1.4 - f/13.
I shot the Nikon 105mm f/1.4E ED extensively in the field on my last trip. It is the first Nikon lens I’ve actually wanted to buy in quite a few years now. If the 105/1.4E hints at Nikon optical efforts going forward, we are going to need an 80 megapixel Nikon D900, and hopefully a new optical competition between Nikon and Sigma and Canon and Zeiss. But why has it taken this many years to jolt Nikon out of its stupor of mediocre f/1.4 lenses? Maybe Sigma deserves some credit with its Art series.
The Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E is surely the best-corrected f/1.4 lens that Nikon has ever produced. If Leica produced this lens, everyone would rave about it and pay 3X to 4X the price for use on a low-res sensor—but the 105/1.4E is a stop faster than anything Leica has in this range and it puts any Leica M telephoto to shame, outperforming on every metric. Indeed, we can properly classify the Nikon 105/1.4E as in the same league as Zeiss Otus, a little less good in some respects, but better in one area, as noted in my coverage.
And bottom line for some: the Nikon 105/1.4E is autofocus, thus delivering a far higher hit rate than trying to focus via an optical viewfinder on a moving subject. At about $2196 it thus represents an outstanding value. The only downside to the 105/1.4E is that it is noticeably bulkier than the lovely Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2M.