Review Nikon 105mm f/2.5 AI

Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
1,129
Location
Central Ohio
Real Name
Andrew
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Background
Considered by most Nikon lens aficionados as one of the must have manual focus lenses, I took the leap and snagged this lens up from a local camera store.

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1/400, f/4, ISO 200 - PEN-F

Handling/Size/Weight
This lens covers the FX sensor size. Given that fact you might think that a 105mm f/2.5 lens should be rather on the large size. That is not the case with this lens.

An all metal build gives the lens some heft to it, but I would not consider the lens to be "heavy".

Used on the Nikon Df and adapted to the Olympus PEN-F, the balance feels right on either camera, although it is a little more lens heavy on the PEN-F, as one might expect.

Being an AI (aperture index) lens, setting up the Df in the menus to accept the lens allows the aperture index lever to accurately report the cameras settings in the EXIF data.

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1/125, f/4, ISO 1000 - PEN-F
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1/200, f/2.5, ISO 200 - PEN-F

Image Quality
Some people think that older lens designs, even prime lenses, are not as good as the modern equivalents. There might be some truth to that statement if we get into a "measurebating" analysis. I, however, do not fully agree. While it might be true that on paper one lens may be sharper than another, there is more to a lens than the overall sharpness. My belief is that there is a threshold of "sharp enough" or acceptable sharpness that is good enough for me. The 105mm/2.5 AI lens certainly falls into that category and then some.

If we look at the lens at f/2.5, this is probably where the lens is at its weakest. Even with that, the wide open performance is still plenty acceptable. Stopped down even a little bit to f/4 and it is very sharp.

I find that I like the rendering of the lens as well.

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1/125, f/2.8, ISO 3200 - PEN-F
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1/160, f/2.5, ISO 200 - PEN-F

Focusing
The focus ring on my copy is very smooth with a hard stop at infinity. I'm able to go from closest focus to infinity with one turn. The front element does move in and out when turning the focus ring.

The focus throw is great, giving one the ability to be very accurate with minute adjustments.

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

1/125, f/4, ISO 1000 - PEN-F

Bottom Line
Having this as my first experience with a manual focus lens was a great choice. It ticked all the boxes for size, portability, image quality and ease of focusing.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2017
Messages
1,110
Location
Dubois, Wyoming
Real Name
Bill
Quick cat and wife photos. I like the way the D850 handles a non-cpu lens.

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Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
21,218
Location
SW Virginia
I have one of these in AIS and agree that it is optically excellent and very well made. But I think it's the heaviest of my Nikon MF lenses. Also, the closest focus distance is quite long, and that hinders my use of the lens.
 
Joined
Dec 20, 2018
Messages
138
Location
Los Angeles de Tilarán
one of many legends.. my recomendatons are -
18 f 3.5
55 1.2
28 f2
135 f2
500 f4
400 2.8
and the 600 5.6
85 2.8 PC
I have all these and can only recommend to get themmif you see a bargain. Perfect fit for the DF. I have adapted those who needed it to AI
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
Messages
1,162
Location
St. Charles, IL
Real Name
Andy
I've owned this lens at two different times over the years, but don't have one at the moment. Not sure why I keep selling it, because it truly delivers great results. But seeing this thread makes me think I should buy it a third and final time.
 

kilofoxtrott

European Ambassador
Moderator
Joined
Dec 29, 2011
Messages
8,051
Location
Tettnang, Germany
Real Name
Klaus
View attachment 1629446

Background
Considered by most Nikon lens aficionados as one of the must have manual focus lenses, I took the leap and snagged this lens up from a local camera store.

View attachment 1629447
1/400, f/4, ISO 200 - PEN-F

Handling/Size/Weight
This lens covers the FX sensor size. Given that fact you might think that a 105mm f/2.5 lens should be rather on the large size. That is not the case with this lens.

An all metal build gives the lens some heft to it, but I would not consider the lens to be "heavy".

Used on the Nikon Df and adapted to the Olympus PEN-F, the balance feels right on either camera, although it is a little more lens heavy on the PEN-F, as one might expect.

Being an AI (aperture index) lens, setting up the Df in the menus to accept the lens allows the aperture index lever to accurately report the cameras settings in the EXIF data.

View attachment 1629448
1/125, f/4, ISO 1000 - PEN-F
View attachment 1629449
1/200, f/2.5, ISO 200 - PEN-F

Image Quality
Some people think that older lens designs, even prime lenses, are not as good as the modern equivalents. There might be some truth to that statement if we get into a "measurebating" analysis. I, however, do not fully agree. While it might be true that on paper one lens may be sharper than another, there is more to a lens than the overall sharpness. My belief is that there is a threshold of "sharp enough" or acceptable sharpness that is good enough for me. The 105mm/2.5 AI lens certainly falls into that category and then some.

If we look at the lens at f/2.5, this is probably where the lens is at its weakest. Even with that, the wide open performance is still plenty acceptable. Stopped down even a little bit to f/4 and it is very sharp.

I find that I like the rendering of the lens as well.

View attachment 1629450
1/125, f/2.8, ISO 3200 - PEN-F
View attachment 1629451
1/160, f/2.5, ISO 200 - PEN-F

Focusing
The focus ring on my copy is very smooth with a hard stop at infinity. I'm able to go from closest focus to infinity with one turn. The front element does move in and out when turning the focus ring.

The focus throw is great, giving one the ability to be very accurate with minute adjustments.

View attachment 1629452
1/125, f/4, ISO 1000 - PEN-F

Bottom Line
Having this as my first experience with a manual focus lens was a great choice. It ticked all the boxes for size, portability, image quality and ease of focusing.
Refering to your pictures this lens seems to be a true gem.

Old glass rocks
Klaus
 
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
Messages
1,056
Location
New York State
I have recently converted an Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/3.5 MC Macro to a Nikon F mounting with a Leitax plate and dandelion chip.

That lens is very small and light; and has a very long built-in extension that gets you very close to the subject.
The lens is MF but Green-dot focussing works accurately.
I converted this lens so that I can use the 50mm on PB-4 bellows for greater magnification.

I also have the Nikon 105mm AF-S Micro f/2.8 which is truly excellent (and has AF and VR) but can't deliver as much magnification as the Zuiko can on bellows.
 

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