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Macro photography with the Nikon VR 105mm f/2.8 and D850

The Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 IF-ED lens was released in 2006 but continues to be one of the best macro lenses on the market. I love shooting with this lens and regularly use it for my professional work as both a closeup (macro) and portrait lens.

Video and field use

In the above YouTube video, I demonstrate photographing bees and insects in the branches of a maple tree and a cherry tree. I do a lot of my field macro work hand-held and have regularly use the VR image stabilization system. Nikon claims the lens’ vibration reduction (VR) reduces the effects of camera shake by three stops and I think that’s pretty close to accurate. Keep in mind the 105mm lens’ VR system is first-generation Nikon and newer lenses have improved on this technology.

Lens details:

  • Nikon F-Mount
  • FX Format
  • Nano Crystal coating
  • 1:1 magnification and 1-foot minimum focus distance
  • Silent wave motor (AF-S) focusing system
  • Internal focus
  • VR image stabilization
  • Rounded 9-blade aperture blades (diaphragm)

One of the things I really like about this lens is the fact that it uses internal focusing. This means that the lens barrel doesn’t elongate, contract or rotate while focusing. This feature makes it easier to use filters or fine-tune camera position when mounted on a tripod.

The lens continues to receive 5-star reviews from consumers for good reason. It is sharp, fast-focusing and does its job extremely well. My only criticism of this lens is that I wish it was smaller and lighter-weight. Nikon does make an 85mm AF-S DX f/3.5 Micro Nikkor for crop sensor bodies, but obviously, that doesn’t solve my full-frame sensor camera needs.

Other options

Competition from other lens manufacturers has brought in a myriad of options for macro shooters. Tamron, Tokina, Sigma as well as other third-party manufacturers have all developed legitimate macro lenses in the 85mm to 180mm focal length ranges. I’ve used quite a few of them over the years and will say that just about all of these are great options. I’ve been recommending the Tamron 90mm macro for a long time and the newest version (SP 90mm f/2.8 Di) is excellent.

How about you? What macro lens do you use or recommend? Let me know in the comments.

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