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Yum: My Week with Nikon's AF-S VR 105mm Lens

One nice thing about working at Crutchfield is that I occasionally get to try out cool stuff. Over the last several days, I've been playing with Nikon's AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8 micro lens.

Now, to explain a little about what makes this lens so awesome (and also makes it more expensive than my usual 50mm f/1.8 lens) I need to get tweaky about what a micro lens actually does. No worries, though; I am not enough of a camera expert to make this take a long time.

Micro is Nikon's term for their macro lenses. A macro lens, traditionally, was one that was able to reproduce an image at a 1:1 ratio, sizewise. That is, the image captured by a 35mm macro lens onto a frame of 35mm film was equal to the size of the subject in real life.

Over time, that designation has gotten a little looser, and in point-and-shoot cameras, for instance, macro mode simply means that the camera is set to a nearer focal distance. The effect is similar to that of a traditional macro, but not identical.

But Nikon's 105mm micro lens hews closer to the traditional meaning of macro. Therefore, it can support up to 1:1 reproduction ratios and (added bonus) you don't have to get as close to your subject as with a 35mm lens.

OK, that's the end of the tweaky stuff. Here's what this lens was like to use, in a word:


I know this thing is intended for macro shooting -- close-ups, if you will -- and it was everything I had heard about. The bokeh (that's a term used by photographers to describe the out-of-focus background sought after in certain kinds of photos) was beautiful. The clarity was amazing. The autofocus was startlingly swift and responsive. (There was some "breathing" -- a term I first heard about over at Ken Rockwell's excellent site -- which meant that the apparent size of the image changed as the focus was shifted. This can be a drawback if you shoot macro almost exclusively but certainly wasn't a dealbreaker for me.)

But I am also in love with the way it worked as a portrait lens. So sharp. So responsive.

So, while I did do some close-up shooting,and hope to do more this coming weekend. (Click on the images to enlarge them)

I was also excited about a few of the portraits I captured, on a whim, while working with this lens. Its responsiveness and speed is what made it possible for me to capture a fast-moving egg-happy toddler, along with a cat who assuredly did not want to be dressed up as the Easter bunny.

Sigh. One of the not-nice things about working at Crutchfield is that I occasionally get to try out cool stuff. Which I then want to own. Even when it's not quite in my budget.



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