31 comments on “Lens Review: Nikon 105mm f/1.8 AI-s

  1. Very nice review! I was debating getting into the adapter scene for my NEX-7. I think you have convinced me to do just that.

    • Hey! Happy I could help, using manual lenses is a lot more effective than I thought it would be on the NEX-7. I may not get any autofocus lenses for a very long time…maybe… 😉
      And stay tuned, more reviews always on the way. 🙂

      • Yes, the peaking function on the NEX-7 is fantastic. I have my AF lenses set to MF. lol.
        Can’t wait for more reviews!
        Thanks Again.

  2. Hi, just very recently stumbled on to this nice photography site of yours. Question: how do you like that Fotodiox Pro adapter? I have the cheaper version w/aperture ring adjustment, but there is quite a bit of play between both the bodyadapter and adapterlens. It’s becoming more and more annoying to me. It feels so cheap.

    • Hey there man, glad you stumbled here! 😀

      As to the question. In a nutshell, I like it. It is built well, mounts to the lenses nice and tight, and the removable tripod mount (without leaving a hole in the adapter) is a nice touch. Only problem, though they advertise “no play guaranteed”, the adapter has just the SLIGHTEST amount of play, and I can only feel it if I turn things tightly (not recommended!). For the price I paid ($50), I can’t complain. The Novoflex just isn’t worth $300+!

  3. Hi Matthew,

    Thanks for the awesome review for this nice lens. I have never tried MF lens, so have a little bit concern on the MF part of the lens — is it easy to find focus point, considering the tiny depth of filed on this 105/1.8 lens? Is it likely to miss a lot of photos?



    • Hey Brian, thanks for the good question. If you do not have any manual focus experience whatsoever, the 105mm f/1.8 MAY not be the first lens to try it on. If you go to this depth of field calculator: http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html, and input the NEX-3/5 and the appropriate focal length and aperture, you’ll see that your depth of field at many distances is extremely shallow. To nail critical focus with this lens, you have got to practice. It just takes time, but once you get it, you get it good. 🙂

      I recommend that if you do plan on getting this lens, shoot in RAW, set the creative style to black and white, and peaking color to yellow. When you do that, the areas in focus (yellow) will stand out much more than if you shot in color. Since you are shooting in RAW, the actual file is unaffected when you upload it to the computer. In camera, however, it will appear black and white.

      Good luck!

      • Hi Matthew,

        Thank you for your explanation! On a APS-C camera, shooting at about 5m wide open, the dof is like 0.1m — impressively thin, but still visible I guess.

        I use a NiKon DSLR so most probably I’ll need to confirm focus with the green dot in viewfinder. I’ll practice before I go for it. Thank you for your suggestion — I feel it may be a good addition to your review article, especially for this MF lens.

      • Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll come back to this to possibly add a “macro” section as well as mentioning that.

        And also, if your DSLR uses the single-dot focus confirmation, you will struggle to get accurate focus. That said, practice is practice, you will just have a rougher time. Functions like peaking and focus magnification in today’s mirrorless cameras are what makes fast and long lenses like these so much more useable than they ever would be on an SLR.

      • Woo, this seems an attractive aspect of mirrorless cameras. Yes I have tried to use long lens as macro and MF is a struggle on DSLR, even I do have arrows and dot; I also have Lv which enables focus magnification, I’ll try to get familiar with that. Thank you for great suggestions!

      • Welcome, and good luck! In your case, the only new feature will be peaking, it’s good you have focus magnification on your camera now.

  4. Hi Matthew,
    Great review again. As you are, I am also into MF lenses from Nikon lately. I’ve got the 50 1.2, 28 2.8, 105 2.5 and a 30 years old 180 2.8. All AIS verslons. Mind you, the 105 2.5 ais is my best lens on FX ever, if you can get one, get it. [Gauss type!] You wil be amazed what this lens can do. It has great contrast, sharpness and bokeh. Very good from wide open and improving smoothly down to f11! Very compact lens, better to handle and lighter then the bigger 105 1.8 on nex7 I think.
    Frank from the Netherlands.

    • Hey there Frank, glad you liked it! I envy you for having that 50 f/1.2, that’s one lens that I really want to acquire to do a 50mm comparison. 😉

      As far as the other lenses, I hope to get the E version of the 28 2.8, and already have the 180mm f/2.8 ED AI-s (reviewed here).

      I have seen a couple short reviews of the 105mm f/2.5, and there was a website (forgot who) that tested out both the 1.8 and 2.5 versions. They found the 1.8 to be just a hair sharper (read: negligible), so that’s why I got it (as well as the extra stop in speed). If I can get a cheap copy to test, I may review it and also do a comparison. I’m sure it will be great.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  5. Amazing review. I just bought one a mont ago. Want to return it and buy yours because of your work. Congratulations.

    • Hey Federico, thanks! And there’s always more reviews in the pipeline (so many Nikkors to choose from!).

      Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

  6. Very interesting review, thanks.
    The focal length on an Olympus E5 (2x) would be adequate with the fast 1.8 for indoor ice hockey.
    Is the focus rotation fast, ie is it 180 or say 360 degrees turn? Can you give an opinion?
    I am considering this lens for indoor sports.

    • Hey Geoy, glad you liked it.
      Per your question, after turning it around a few times in the hand, it seems to be very fast, about 130 degrees of motion. In my use for indoor sports photography (on APS-C, it works very well goal-side for basketball and court-side for volleyball), I’ve found it to work great, with the majority of the focus range within a single flick.

      Keep in mind that if you can try to shoot at at least f/2.8, you’ll get some great results on this lens. My previous charts in this review don’t truly show some of the haziness and relative lack of detail at f/1.8-2. Things start improving to an acceptable level for me by f/2.4.

      Of course, take that with a grain of salt. If the lighting conditions demand it (since I’m not too familiar with the high-ISO performance of the E5), go ahead and shoot at whatever aperture it takes to get the shot. I’ve actually never shot any ice hockey myself, would love to see some of your results. 🙂

      • Thanks for your prompt reply Matthew.
        The short rotation would indeed make it easier for me to manual focus and I am encouraged. I was hoping to use such a lens as wide open as would be practical and I was thinking of at least f2.0; so I will still be considering an acquisition and if I do I would certainly keep you in mind.
        I appreciate your feedback and sound opinion.

      • By all means, enjoy that lens even wide-open. It’s not BAD, per-se, but detail can be a bit hazy. With a bit of post-processing helping out the contrast, clarity, and sharpness, everything looks just fine. 🙂

  7. I was noticing green fringing/chromatic aberration near the brown couch i photographed at 1.8 f-stop and also near the wood baseboard around the wall of my house. The room was well lit, iso 200, 1/8 shutter on a tripod. Was wondering if anyone noticed this problem.

    • This was my first lens review before I had any metric of comparison to other lenses from the AI-s line or otherwise. The 105mm f/1.8 AI-s does actually exhibit some noticeable purple fringing and other aberrations in high contrast settings at or near the wide-open apertures. However, I don’t recall ever experiencing green fringing that much. Only purple/magenta. Could your lens maybe have been damaged, or the lens elements be slightly out of alignment?

  8. Though the corners may not be razor sharp at /1.8 and f/2, these are really not an issue in portraiture, for which this lens is primarily used. This is my go to lens in the studio (my go to bring the 200mm f/2 AIS for outdoors, space and group size permitting) and is performs superbly.

    • Agreed, Scott. This was one of the first lenses I owned and didn’t have a great frame of reference when I wrote the review. I believe in retrospect I may have a not-so-great copy, as other lenses in my kit over the years outperform it pretty handily. The Laowa 105mm definitely beats it (modern lens design though), but even Nikon’s own 100mm f/2.8 E seems to do better in certain areas. I do miss the 105mm f/1.8 though, it was a fun lens to use and could practically see in the dark!

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