I recently had the chance to shoot with the Nikon’s new 105mm f/1.4 prime lens (or the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED, if you want to get technical). Their other 105mm, the f/2.8 micro, is a lens I use a lot, so I was interested to see how this one compared, especially with such a fast wide aperture.
I’ll be comparing them directly in a separate review. These sample images go along with that side-by-side review as well as give a sense of how the lens performs in real-world shooting. I’ve put the emphasis here on the large apertures that are the headline features of this lens, so many of the shots were taken in low light, as well as many that make use of the narrow depth of field at f/1.4. All of these were shot hand-held (there’s no VR on this lens, unlike the f/2.8 version).
This lens is aimed primarily at portrait photography. It’s squarely in the range of ideal focal lengths for portrait photography, and the wide maximum aperture makes it easy to blur the background into silky softness. But I was intrigued by its possibilities for general travel photography, with using the combination of wide aperture and medium telephoto focal length to both draw out details and work well in low light.
As you’d expect from a high-end and, let’s face it, expensive lens like this, and especially coming from Nikon, the optical quality is excellent. As usual, it’s sharpest a few stops up from wide open, but even wide open at f/1.4 and f/1.8, it is very sharp. Autofocusing, when mounted on a Nikon D810, was accurate and quick. And while the lens itself is a bit bigger and heavier than its f/2.8 sibling, it’s still very portable. Bokeh is one of those very subjective things, but I was very happy with what this lens delivered. I found nothing to complain about in terms of chromatic aberration or lens flare, even when pointing it right at the sun.
I was using it right around the time that I had several early mornings down near Washington DC’s Tidal Basin and Lincoln Memorial, so many of the shots were from there.
I’ve processed these lightly in Lightroom but have only adjusted things like exposure and contrast. I haven’t applied any lens corrections such as distortion correction or removing lens vignetting. I’ve included the aperture each was taken with in the captions below. You can click on each photo to open a full-size version if you want to take a closer look.
Lens Hood. It comes with a lens hood. If you’re after a replacement, it’s model number HB-79.
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