This fall I was in Portugal on a fantastic workshop, and one of the participants asked if I would like to borrow his 105mm F1.4.
I had shot the 105mm before, and knew it was really nice. But I had the legendary 85mm F1.4, and have used it as my main portrait lens for years. But hey, borrow the 105mm F1.4 for a few days…why not? Big mistake!
Let’s just put it this way. This lens was so sharp, and produced the most incredible bokeh with a narrower angle of view….that I ‘borrowed’ the lens for most of the trip(thanks Rodger!). And bought one when I got home. I was blown away at just how sharp the lens was, and the MTF specs supported that this was one of the sharpest lenses Nikon makes. But when looking at lens performance sharpness is just one of many aspects to evaluate. What I really started to enjoy was softer bokeh and narrower compressed background 105mm produced when compared to the 85mm. Autofocus was fast, build quality excellent. Could there be any downsides? Yep, there are a few.
First, take a look at the image above. The 105mm on left and 85mm on the right. The 105mm is big, really big when you are carrying it around all day (82mm front thread). And next is the price…$2200…not cheap. So who might want this lens? Any Nikon user that shoots portraits, especially studio and ‘local’ photographers who are not traveling far. Should you buy one if you already own the 85mm F1.4? The differences in sharpness, angle of view and bokeh are noticeable. For some enough to go out and buy this lens (me!); for others they will be happy just staying with the 85mm.
I am going to carry this lens with me on many of my travels. Yes, it is big, but the 105mm also makes a great landscape and close wildlife lens. Can you imagine photographing sea lions or blue footed boobies in the Galapagos with this lens. Or how about snow monkeys in Japan? The 105mm F1.4 was the first autofocus lens of its kind, and Nikon set the bar very high. Not cheap or light, but wow can it perform. Happy holiday shopping!