Nikon 105mm f/1.4

FX AF-S NIKKOR E ED
World's Fastest 105mm

Top   Sample Images   Introduction

Compatibility   Format   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

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Nikon 105mm f/1.4

Nikon 105mm f/1.4E ED (82mm filters, 34.8 oz./985 g, 3.3'/1m close-focus, about $2,200) bigger. I got mine at Adorama; I'd also get it at Amazon or at B&H.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to my personally-approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Nikon does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used camera. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.

 

September 2016   Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses    All Reviews

 

Sample Images

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Compatibility   Format   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 sample image file

Palms at Dawn, La Quinta, California, 6:57 AM, 29 September 2016. Nikon D810, Nikon 105/1.4, f/1.4 at 1/1,000 at ISO 64. bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display 36MP files in their actual resolution).

What makes this image special is that if you look carefully at the full-resolution camera-original file on your computer at 100%, is that it's ultrasharp from edge to edge, and that this is shot wide-open at f/1.4, where lenses are their softest. This is optical perfection. Of course only the plane of the line of palms is in focus; everything else is at least a little out of focus and of course softer.

 

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 sample image file

Palms at Dawn, La Quinta, California, 7:05 AM, 29 September 2016. Nikon D810, Nikon 105/1.4, f/5.6 at 1/125 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display 36MP files in their actual resolution).

Of course even at f/5.6 only a very thin plane is actually in perfect focus in the 36MP camera-original file; the lower left is out of focus.

 

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 sample image file

Pueblo in Dawn Shadow, La Quinta, California, 6:53 AM, 29 September 2016. Nikon D810, Nikon 105/1.4, f/1.4 at 1/500 at ISO 64. bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display 36MP files in their actual resolution).

Again notice how the roof tiles in the 36 MP camera-original file as seen on a computer at 100% are razor-sharp from side to side, and this again is shot at f/1.4 where other lenses are usually much softer on the sides. The plane of focus is the wall; everything else (like the hedge on the left) is not in focus.

 

Introduction

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Compatibility   Format   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Adorama Pays Top Dollar for Used Gear

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

I buy only from these approved sources. I can't vouch for ads below.

This is the world's fastest 105mm lens. The previous world's fastest 105mm was the Nikkor 105mm f/1.8 AI-s.

This lens is designed to be a fantastic portrait lens, with very, very soft backgrounds and great bokeh.

Nikon also claims this lens can reproduce point light sources faithfully without sagittal coma flare, even on the edges of the frame, making it superb for astrophotography.

The 105mm f/1.4 has Nikon's newest electromagnetic aperture control, but that also means the diaphragm won't work on cameras introduced earlier than about 2007.

It's sealed and gasketed to resist dust and moisture, and fluorine coatings on the front and rear elements should repel fingerprints and dirt.

It has instant manual-focus override; just grab the focus ring at any time.

It has no image stabilization.

 

Compatibility

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Compatibility   Format   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

The 105E has the same E diaphragm system as earlier E lenses, which all work perfectly on all FX cameras.

This new electronic diaphragm system only works with cameras introduced since about 2007, which includes all FX cameras. See Nikon Lens Compatibility for the complete list.

It also works perfectly on recent DX cameras like the D3300 and D500, but not on older ones. Again, see Nikon Lens Compatibility for the complete list.

Nikon tells us it will not work properly on any 35mm camera. Older cameras cannot control the diaphragm and it will always shoot at f/1.4, which isn't all that bad.

On my 1988 Nikon F4 it autofocuses, meters and auto-exposes perfectly — but it will only meter for and shoot at f/1.4.

Everything works fine on my Nikon F6, except it will only shoot at f/1.4.

On manual focus Nikons like the Nikon F3 and Nikon FM3a it works great, of course only with with manual focus and only at f/1.4.

In spite of Nikon's warnings, the only limitation on older cameras is that it shoots only wide-open, which is why we buy this lens in the first place. If you're shooting at f/2 or f/2.8, the 105DC or any other 105mm lens works just as well.

So long as you want to shoot at f/1.4, no problem; but there is no way that cameras introduced before 2007 can stop down the electronic diaphragm.

 

Format

Top   Sample Images   Introduction

Compatibility   Format   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

This is a full-frame lens optimized for use on FX cameras, and I'll be reviewing it as such.

It also works great on the DX format, for which you may make the usual inferences.

 

Specifications

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Compatibility   Format   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

 

Name

Nikon 105mm f/1.4

Nikon 105mm f/1.4. bigger.

Nikon calls this the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED ∅82 N.

    AF-S and SWM: Silent Wave Autofocus Motor.

    NIKKOR: Nikon's brand name for all their lenses.

    E: Electronic diaphragm, just like Canon has been doing since 1987. This means it only works on these newest Nikon cameras.

    ED: Magic Extra-low Dispersion glass for reduced secondary chromatic aberration.

    IF: Internal focusing; nothing moves externally as focused.

    ∅82: 82mm filter thread.

    N: "Nano" continuously variable index of refraction anti-reflection coatings.

 

Nikon 105mm f/1.4

Nikon 105mm f/1.4E ED. bigger.

 

Optics

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 construction

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 internal construction. ED Glass.

14 elements in 9 groups.

3 extra low dispersion elements.

No aspherical elements.

Multicoated, with some nano-crystal coating.

Fluorine front and rear coatings for smudge resistance.

 

Diaphragm

Nikon 105mm f/1.4

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 at f/1.4 (diaphragm not visible). bigger.

9 rounded blades.

Stops down to f/16.

 

Focal length

105mm.

When used on DX cameras, it sees the same angle of view as a 160 mm lens sees when used on a 35mm or FX camera.

See also Crop Factor.

 

Angle of view

23.2º on FX.

15.3º on DX.

 

Autofocus

Internal focus.

No external movement as focussed, so no air or dust is sucked in.

 

Close Focus

3.3 feet (1 meter).

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio

1:7.7 (0.13 x).

 

Filters

82 mm filter thread.

 

Hood

Nikon HB-79 hood for 105mm f/1.4

Nikon HB-79 hood for 105/1.4. bigger.

HB-79 plastic bayonet hood included.

 

Size

3.72" maximum diameter x 4.17" extension from flange.

94.5 mm maximum diameter x 106 mm extension from flange.

 

Weight

34.8 oz. (985 g).

 

Included

LC-82 82 mm snap-on front cap

LF-4 rear cap.

HB-79 bayonet hood.

CL-1218 case, same case as for 24-120 VR and 16-80mm DX.

 

Quality

Made in China.

 

Announced

27 July 2016.

 

Promised for

Late August 2016.

Still hard to find as of late September 2016; just order it and wait patiently as I did to get yours.

 

Price, USA

$2,200, July-September 2016.

Nikon 105mm f/1.4

Nikon 105/1.4. bigger.

The box is microcorrugated cardboard, and the internal packing is all folded cardboard.

The lens comes inside a bubble wrap bag which has a matching serial number sticker on it.

 

Performance

Top   Sample Images   Introduction

Compatibility   Format   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

 

Overall   Autofocus   Bokeh   Distortion

Ergonomics   Falloff   Flare & Ghosts

Lateral Color Fringes   Macro   Mechanics

Sharpness   Spherochromatism   Sunstars

 

Overall

Performance          top

This Nikon 105/1.4 is extraordinarily sharp and has very good bokeh. It's big, heavy and expensive, and performs as we expect.

 

Autofocus

Performance          top

Autofocus isn't that fast. It's slower than other lenses so that precise focus can be achieved at f/1.4. Without precise focus, you'd lose sharpness at f/1.4 where your depth-of-field is vapor-thin.

 

Bokeh

Performance          top

Bokeh, the feel or quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to how far out of focus they are, is pretty good. It's not perfect, but seeing how far out of focus most things are at f/1.4, it's not an issue.

Out of focus areas don't vanish completely; you'll still see some texture in them caused by the lens' particular qualities:

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 sample image file

Dawn, La Quinta, California, 7:02 AM, 29 September 2016. Nikon D810, Nikon 105/1.4, f/1.4 at 1/1,000 at ISO 64. bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display 36MP files in their actual resolution).

 

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 sample image file

Foxtails at Dawn, La Quinta, California, 7:06 AM, 29 September 2016. Nikon D810, Nikon 105/1.4, f/1.4 at 1/1,000 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display 36MP files in their actual resolution).

 

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 bokeh

Davis 6250 weather station, 27 September 2016. bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display 9MP files in their actual resolution).

 

Distortion

Performance          top

The Nikon 105mm f/1.4E has minor pincushion distortion. You won't see it unless you're shooting brick walls and laying rulers on your prints. You don't see it in my Sample Images.

It has the least distortion at infinity, and it increases as focussed more closely.

For critical use it's easy to correct by plugging these figures into Photoshop's lens distortion filter. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.

Distance

Correction factor
(FX and 35mm)

30' (10m)
-0.9
10' (3m)
-1.5
3' (1m)
-2.1

© 2016 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

The D500, D90, D3100, D3200, D3300, D5000, D5100, D5200, D5300, D5500, D7000, D7100, D7200, D5, D4, D4s, D600, D610, D750, D800, D800E, D810, Df and all newer cameras can be set to correct the distortion automatically in-camera — so long as you have the latest camera firmware.

 

Ergonomics

Performance          top

Nikon HB-79 hood for 105mm f/1.4

Nikon 105mm f/1.4. bigger.

This is a big, fat heavy lens that swallows huge 82mm filters.

Other than it's size, ergonomics are great. It has a huge focus ring, and the AF switch is always right under your thumb.

 

Falloff

Performance          top

Falloff on FX and 35mm is minor. Even at f/1.4 uncorrected as you can see at Sample Images, it's not a problem and often helpful to keep the viewer's attention in the picture.

It won't be an issue at all on DX (see crop factor).

I've greatly exaggerated the falloff by shooting a gray field and placing these on a gray background:

 

Nikon 105mm f/1.4E falloff on FX and 35mm at infinity, no correction:

f/1.4
f/2
Laowa 105mm falloff
Laowa 105mm falloff
Laowa 105mm falloff
Laowa 105mm falloff
f/2.8
f/4

© 2016 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

Flare & Ghosts

Performance          top

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 sample image file

Dawn, La Quinta, California, 7:07 AM, 29 September 2016. Nikon D810, Nikon 105/1.4, f/11 at 1/500 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display 36MP files in their actual resolution).

It has no significant flare or ghosts.

You really have to push it to get one small, soft green ghost opposite the source of light as seen above. I'm really pushing it here; shoot this lens into the light and you'll have to add ghosts later in post if you want them.

Adding a filter makes no difference, except for a larger soft green ghost at f/2.8 and larger with a filter.

 

Lateral Color Fringes

Performance          top

There are no color fringes as shot on Nikon DSLRs, which by default correct for any that may be there.

 

Macro

Performance          top

The Nikon 105 1.4 E doesn't get that close, only as close as every other regular 105mm made by Nikon since 1971.

 

At f/8

As expected, it's super-sharp stopped-down to f/8:

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 macro performance

Kienzle Flieger Automat 800/2843, 27 September 2016. Nikon D810, Nikon 105/1.4, f/8 at 1/250 at ISO 64. bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display 36MP files in their actual resolution).

 

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 macro performance

600 x 450 pixel crop from above image. camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display 36MP files in their actual resolution).

If this crop is about 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, then the complete image printed at this same extreme magnification would be about 50 x 75" (4 x 6 feet or 1.25 x 1.9 meters). You're seeing the texture of the silver paint on the watch face.

 

At f/1.4

It's softer wide-open at f/1.4 at this close-focus distance due to spherical aberration, which isn't seen at normal distances:

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 macro performance

Kienzle Flieger Automat 800/2843, 27 September 2016. Nikon D810, Nikon 105/1.4, f/1.4 at 1/8,000 at ISO 64. bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display 36MP files in their actual resolution).

 

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 macro performance

600 x 450 pixel crop from above image. camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display 36MP files in their actual resolution).

If this crop is about 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, then the complete image printed at this same extreme magnification would be about 50 x 75" (4 x 6 feet or 1.25 x 1.9 meters).

 

Mechanical Quality

Performance          top

Nikon HB-79 hood for 105mm f/1.4

Nikon 105mm f/1.4. bigger.

For a $2,200 lens, this 105/1.4 is a disappointment. There is no joy: you get optical supremacy, but in an all-plastic barrel offshored to China.

Back in 1983 I upgraded from Minolta to Nikon because Nikon's lenses, even the cheapest, were all made to the top professional standards out of 100% metal, while many of Canon's were plastic. Today I prefer Canon as they still make almost everything domestically in Japan and use much more metal than Nikon does today.

 

Filter Threads

Plastic.

 

Hood Mount

Plastic.

 

Focus Ring

Rubber-covered plastic.

 

Outer Barrel

All plastic.

 

Internals

Seem like mostly plastic.

 

Identity

Debossed metal plate.

 

Moisture Seal at Mount

Yes.

 

Mount

Chromed metal.

 

Markings

Paint only.

 

Serial Number

Sticker glued into recess on bottom of barrel.

 

Noises When Shaken

Mild clunking.

 

Made in

China.

 

Sharpness

Performance          top

This 105mm is essentially perfect. The only limitations on sharpness with this lens are your skill as a photographer.

Look at the Sample Images again on your computer again if you have any doubt. Most f/1.4 lenses look as fuzzy as a fishbowl at f/1.4, while this lens is already super sharp and contrasty at f/1.4.

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 sample image file

Window and Fountain, La Quinta, California, 7:12 AM, 29 September 2016. Nikon D810, Nikon 105/1.4, f/1.4 at 1/1,000 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display 36MP files in their actual resolution).

In this case, the watermarks on the glass and even the screens at the bottom sides are ultra sharp, as seen here at f/1.4 where very few lenses are this sharp, even in the center.

This 105mm has has even better claimed MTF than the extraordinary 85mm f/1.4G:

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 MTF

Nikon 105mm f/1.4 MTF at f/1.4. bigger.

 

Spherochromatism

Performance          top

Spherochromatism, also called "color bokeh" by laymen, can cause colored fringes on slightly out-of-focus highlights, usually seen as green fringes on backgrounds and magenta fringes on foregrounds.

It is an advanced form of chromatic aberration in a different dimension than lateral color. Spherochromatism is most commonly seen in fast lenses of moderate focal length when shooting contrasty items at full aperture. It goes away as stopped down.

To my surprise, this ultrafast 105mm lens has nearly no spherochromatism, while its sister 85/1.4 has strong spherochromatism.

 

Sunstars

Performance          top

With a rounded 9-blade diaphragm, I can't get any sunstars. Sorry.

 

Compared

Top   Sample Images   Introduction

Compatibility   Format   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

This is the biggest, heaviest and fastest 105mm ever made. It's also the most plasticy.

Compared to Nikon's other 105mm lenses that they've been making since the 1940s, it's the fastest ever. There really isn't any comparison.

The real comparison is to the 85mm f/1.4G, which is almost the same but 20% smaller.

The 85mm is just as insanely sharp, and also has excellent bokeh. The 85mm is smaller (77mm filters), costs less, and is made with more metal. My 85mm f/1.4G that I bought in 2012 is made in Japan, while this 105mm is offshored to China. I don't know if Nikon now offshores the 85/1.4 or not.

The 85mm uses Nikon's traditional mechanical diaphragm linkage and works with cameras introduced since about 1990, while the electronic diaphragm of this 105mm f/1.4E only works with cameras introduced since about 2007.

The 105/1.4 has pincushion distortion while the 85/1.4 has barrel distortion. It's minor in both lenses, but if you're splitting hairs, the 85mm has less distortion than the 105mm.

The 85/1.4 has strong spherochromatism, while this 105mm has little.

Nikon 85/1.4 and 105/1.4 compared

Nikon 85mm f/1.4G and 105mm f/1.4E. bigger.

Overall the 85mm tends to win; the real difference is if you want 105mm or 85mm, which are only about 20% different from each other. 105mm lenses give softer backgrounds for the same headshots than 85mm lenses.

 

Recommendations

Top   Sample Images   Introduction

Compatibility   Format   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Want a fast medium tele? This is the best there is, along with the very similar 85mm f/1.4G.

For headshots I usually prefer longer focal lengths, like a 300mm f/2.8, but if you want the shallowest depth of field possible at 105mm, or work in dim light and want it to light up like daytime, this f/1.4 is a gem.

The very best protective filter is the 82mm Hoya multicoated HD3 UV which uses hardened glass and repels dirt and fingerprints, and is also multicoated.

For less money, the B+W 82mm 010 is an excellent filter, as is the multicoated version and the basic multicoated Hoya filter, but the Hoya HD3 is the toughest and the best.

Filters last a lifetime, so you may as well get the best. The Hoya HD3 stays cleaner than the others since it repels oil and dirt.

 

Where to Get Yours

I got mine at Adorama; I'd also get it at Amazon or at B&H.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Nikon does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used camera. I use the stores I do because they ship from secure remote warehouses where no one gets to touch your new camera before you do. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection.

Thanks for helping me help you!

Ken, Mrs. Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

© Ken Rockwell. All rights reserved. Tous droits réservés. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

 

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29 September 2016 LQ, 26 July 2016