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Nikon 105mm VR Review


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#1 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 04:00 AM

I have just posted a review of Nikon's new 105mm VR lens on the homepage. I am interested in comments and whether you agree with my observations, thoughts and conclusions.

http://wetpixel.com/...05mm-vr-review/

I have used this lens underwater in SE Asia, Caribbean and in the Mediterranean. I do not have pictures from those last two trips online, but you can see more sample images taken with the lens in Bali here:
http://www.amustard....l&subpage=photo

Obviously not all these images are not 105mm - as there are wide angle shots too. But all obviously 105mm macro shots are taken with the VR lens.

Posted Image

Alex

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#2 sdingeldein

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 05:26 AM

Thanks for writing this article, Alex. I have nowhere the experience or expertise that you or others on the list do. I used the new 105VR in Bonaire for a week and was a bit frustrated by it, though much of that might be my inexperience with the lens plus the lens underwater. I used a Wetmate diopter from time to time without much added success. I carried a 6T with me but didn't use it.

I agree it hunts just about as much as the old 105 and the rapid hunting does give the impression that it hunts more. That observation on your part points out that more hunting is more a psychological interpretation than something real.

I had real problems getting it to focus for anything close to 1:1 but I am now thinking it is more a matter of experience with the lens and with more time underwater I will get much better. Topside macro is hard enough but when one adds in buoyancy/surge/current it is really a fine art underwater, IMHO.

I really really need to play more with different f stops and shutter speeds and I think my ability with the lens will grow. I think the lesson I learned is that it is far from a "point and shoot" lens but better than the old 105.

Articles like this, plus discussion, make Wetpixel a favorite spot. Plus the magic filters, which still amaze me.

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#3 james

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 05:51 AM

Alex,

Thanks for posting a fantastic and comprehensive review. I especially appreciate the comments about the bokeh.

Cheers
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#4 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 08:44 AM

Thanks guys.

I do think that the focus issue with this lens is worth discussing and the fact that while I don't feel it hunts any more or any less than the old lens, the speed of the AF does make you feel more of a passenger when it does hunt.

I don't intend to try shooting filters with this one!

Alex

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#5 jdaley

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 09:01 AM

Alex,

Great article, beautiful pictures!

One question and it is a bit off topic, which subal port did you use and did you have to make any modifications to make the lens fit?

James
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#6 UWphotoNewbie

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 09:03 AM

Thanks a bunch for this review Alex. I've been waiting to hear the advice of a pro since this lens was announced.

I bought mine in August and I have to agree with your comments esp re: the autofocus. I still have yet to take it underwater. Ikelite has promised a flat port to go along with the 8" port system so I'm holing out for that rather than the special flat port. Perhaps there will be a (very wide) AF/MF port possible? Until thewn I'll stick with the old 105mm.

One question on the 5T diopter. You have made some FANTASTIC shots! So far it seems you have the 5T diopter and the Canon 500D. You obviously have done well with the 5T (1.5x diopter). Have you tried a stronger diopter like the 6T/500D w/ a 72-62mm ring. I picked up a used 5T at normal price but I'm having lots of trouble finding a 6T anywhere near retail. Is the stronger diopter worth it?

I ordered a 62-52mm step down ring from B&H and will try the 4T I have for the old 105mm when it arrives.

Edited by UWphotoNewbie, 12 October 2006 - 09:05 AM.

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#7 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 09:21 AM

Regarding the Subal port - I use a 30mm extension ring (home made with a wide bore) and an old 60mm port. I have posted the dimensions online before and I also gave them to Ryan - as he was interested in getting some made up. Subal say that they are making a new port for this lens too. So I have heard.

Here is a photo of my extention ring:
http://wetpixel.com/...A...ost&id=3541

And here is the thread:
http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=14639

----

I'd like to have a 6T very much. But I haven't put any effort into finding one since discovering that they are no longer available in the UK.

I have used the 5T stacked with the 500D (on a step-up ring) which works really rather nicely. I just went to have a look through a dive I used that setup on and I rather like this shot of the face of a triplefin. Mmmm another example of the Bokeh of the new 105mm.

Posted Image

Although, if anyone has a 6T they'd like to sell...

Alex

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#8 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 10:21 AM

Hi Alex,
Nice to see you putting the 5T lens to good use. Encouraging to see that the VR works down into the 1:2 range.
Phil Rudin


Yeah that 5T is getting lots of work. I really like weakish dioptres because they give you a little more magnification if you need it and they are not too restrictive underwater.

I’ve been waiting for a good review. Thanks Alex. I’ve heard everything from “not much different” to “far superior” with regard to AF vs. the old 105.

I’m not clear on the benefits of the AF-S. I’m assuming the Whip Gobie was shot with strobes (being all red). What difference does the AF-S make on the ambient background? It’s blue. How sharp does it need to be? I generally shoot a blue background, because I can make it as dark as I want later. I also tend to add some Gaussian blur to it to smooth it. I’ve never thought, “Gee I wish I had VR” when shooting macro with strobes.

Of more importance, I’ve got a modified Subal port extension on its way. Does the 5T and 6T (individually) fit OK within the port?
scorpio_fish


The benefit of VR when shooting balanced light macro shots is that it allows you to use small apertures (and therefore get more depth of focus) because it keeps the subject sharp. Without VR the foreground subject may blur a bit during the exposure - because of camera shake - creating ghosting around the subject. The VR helps to eliminate this.

My Subal port is homemade - and I don't know about the standard one. I guess it depends on which port you put on the front of the extension.

Alex

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#9 LChan

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 02:36 PM

Alex.

that is a sick shot.

Very nice. :)

too bad Nikon has discontinued those close-up lens. It is mass mayhem on ebay with the prices these lens are going for.
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#10 davichin

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 03:04 PM

Great review, Alex! :)

I had the same bad focusing feeling when I used it the first times specially at night. I always doubt when trying to choose between 60mm+kenko2X or 105VR+4T...



I ordered a 62-52mm step down ring from B&H and will try the 4T I have for the old 105mm when it arrives.


I have that exact same setup...check:

http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=15558
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#11 seagrant

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 05:21 PM

Thanks Alex!!!

Very comprehensive!!!

I had a time at the end of Sept deciding on which 105 I was going with......., I decided on the 105VR and have ordered the new subal port for it (coming soon), I'm told it will have manual focusing options also. If that is true or not or if the manual focus is even valuable will be seen.

You have confirmed that I'm happy with my decision!! I bought a whole new D200 system with 3 lenses, subal etc etc as a package and I'm happy now I made the decision on the new 105.

I'll let you know the experiences of a "newbie" with it. But of course I have to wait till the subal port comes out. B)

In the meantime it will be breaking in the new camera setup in on wide-angle, manatees to be exact!! :)

Thanks again Alex, a very professional review,

Best, Carol

Edited by seagrant, 12 October 2006 - 08:10 PM.

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#12 RebreatherDave

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 05:43 PM

Alex, that shrimp images on yoru site, image # BL30, I have never seen that type of shrimp.

Where were you diving to see that?

Also, your opening photo of the two commensal shrimp to the urchin...I saw many of these urchins in the Philipines, and looked closely at half a dozen of them looking for commensal shrimp to HiDef macro video....did I make a mistake in not turning them over? Looks like your photo they were at the underside mouth?
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#13 Rocha

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 06:24 PM

Dave, I don't know about the shrimp in BL30, but as for your other question, take a look at BL32 on Alex' page, it shows the pair of commesal shrimp on top of the urchin.

Alex, great review, I am resisting and trying not to buy this lens, but I think in the end I will. The bokeh seems much better than the old 105.

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#14 ssra30

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 06:24 PM

Thanks Alex for the review. I only had a few dives with the 105VR so far and it won't be till January before I will get to use it underwater again.

I have both 5T and 6T so I will try both out just to see what its like.
I think the 5T is quite similar in strenght to Nexus wetmount diopter, am I right?

Ryan has some modified extension ring specifically for the 105VR. Hopefully I will get mine soon. I used the extension ring for the 17-55mm in the past. It barely fits but is a bit too long.

#15 davephdv

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 06:26 PM

Nice review Alex. It tells the pluses and minuses of this lens well.

I too have not used my old 105 since I got this. Someone want to buy it?

For surgey camouflaged CA waters I like the AF on this lens better than the old 105. It definitely takes some getting use to. Once you learn how to use it I like it better than the old 105.

I think it may be the sharpest lens I own. I bought this lens after shooting a bicycle race with my old 105. This lens is very useful on land as well as UW. I almost never used the old 105 out of a housing.

Alex, why do you have to use a modified port? The problem I had, as we have discussed before is the zoom focus gear in the housing. Do you know if Subal has an "official" solution to this? Or do I keep the allen wrench handy?

I find this lens works great with the wetmate lens from Backscatter.
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#16 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 11:26 PM

First, thanks for all the positive feedback. It is really appreciated.

Alex, that shrimp images on yoru site, image # BL30, I have never seen that type of shrimp. Where were you diving to see that?
Also, your opening photo of the two commensal shrimp to the urchin...did I make a mistake in not turning them over? Looks like your photo they were at the underside mouth?


No, it would have been a big mistake to touch these fire urchins - they are very poisonous. The Coleman's shrimps are not on all Fire Urchins. These, like the Tiger Shrimp, were photographed at Seraya nr Tulamben in Bali - where Mike Veitch is now.

I have both 5T and 6T so I will try both out just to see what its like.
I think the 5T is quite similar in strenght to Nexus wetmount diopter, am I right?

I am not sure. But I would expect that the quality from the dual element 5T dioptre to be much more than the wetlens. I have never used the wet lens, but i would expect it to be much more susceptable to CA as it is mounted further away from the lens (on the front of the port). That said, you can't remove the 5T half way through your dive!

Alex, why do you have to use a modified port? The problem I had, as we have discussed before is the zoom focus gear in the housing. Do you know if Subal has an "official" solution to this? Or do I keep the allen wrench handy?


I found that the lens always pushed slightly against the side of unmodified Subal ports and therefore wasn't quite sqaure with the glass on the port - which I feared would do weird things to the optics once underwater (kinda like having an UW Lens baby)! I also feared that this pressure might cause a flood? But I think this is just paranoia since you haven't had a problem.

I don't know about Subal's plans for the Zoom/Focus gear. I don't know the guys from Subal well, and haven't spoken to them since last year's Antibes Festival. I'll catch up with them again in a couple of weeks...

Alex

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#17 Udo van Dongen

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 06:08 AM

I'd like to have a 6T very much. But I haven't put any effort into finding one since discovering that they are no longer available in the UK.

Alex and others,

I got my 6T close lens over here, and i'm almost sure that they still have more of them in stock (new and second-hand). For 60 euros you'll be the man!!!... I don't know if they also ship outside europe, but the UK shouldn't be much of a problem. Don't buy everything, leave one 5T for me.... :)

cheers, Udo

BTW: love your review, now i'll have to learn to get similar stunning results out of my 105VR...

Edited by Udo van Dongen, 13 October 2006 - 06:18 AM.

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#18 sdingeldein

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 10:09 AM

Alex and others -

Any tips that you have for maximizing the macro end of this lens besides perfect buoyancy control :)

Seriously, though, that might be my biggest problem in getting small critters. I tend to hold my breath and woooop, up in the water column I go.

Which focusing "mode" do you use with the 105VR underwater?

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#19 Marcelo Krause

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 11:19 PM

Hi Alex and all,

Very nice review of the 105 VR, and as always, excellent pictures with the article.
For me the best thing about the new 105 is the ability to use Nikon’s latest teleconverters (1.4x, 1.7x, 2.0x). In my opinion the quality of the Nikon glass is better than the Kenko teleconverters I was using with the old 105.

That said, because of the cropped sensor in the D2x, I am not using TC too much these days. I am using the Macromate lens from Backscatter, and having very good results. The nice thing about it is that you can take it away underwater.
But nothing beats the optical quality the Nikon TCs can achieve with the 105.

Best regards,

Marcelo Krause

#20 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 12:40 AM

Hi Marcelo,

How well does this lens work with Nikon's teles, considering that Nikon say that AF is not possible with them?

Some suggest that it is possible, it is just that Nikon say it isn't because it is very slow?

Alex

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