Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Review
The Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S is a mid-telephoto macro prime lens for Nikon's Z-series range of full-frame mirrorless cameras.
It can also be used with APS-C sensor models where it provides a 157.5mm equivalent focal length.
The Nikon Z 105mm lens features 16 elements in 11 groups including 3 ED elements, 1 aspherical element, elements with Nano Crystal and ARNEO coats, and a fluorine-coated front element.
If offers a minimum focusing distance of 29cm / 11.4" and a life-size maximum magnification ratio of 1:1.
It has a near-circular 9 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out-of-focus areas of the image, while an internal focusing mechanism means the lens barrel doesn't move, and it's also dust and moisture resistant.
This lens offers built-in VR (Vibration Reduction) image stabilization worth up to 4.5 stops to enable handheld shooting in difficult lighting conditions.
Other features include an integrated OLED panel that displays the aperture setting, focus distance, and depth of field figures, a customizable L-Fn button, a customizable control ring for changing the aperture, exposure compensation and ISO speed, plus a 11.4 to 19.7" / 0.29 to 0.5m focus limiter switch to allow for quicker close focusing.
The Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S lens is available now priced at £999 / $999 in the UK and the US, respectively.
Ease of Use
Weighing in at 630g / 1 lb 6.3 oz and measuring 140 mm/5.6 in. in length, the Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S is fairly compact and lightweight for a 105mm macro lens.
It's overall size complements a mid-sized camera body like the Nikon Z6 II that we tested it with, as shown in the product photos.
Build quality is very good despite the relatively low weight of the lens. It has a plastic shell with a mixture of metallic and plastic parts used inside.
The Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S has a weather-sealed dust and moisture resistant design which makes it well-suited to life in both the field and the studio.
Focusing is usefully internal and manual focusing is possible when set via the A/M switch on the lens barrel.
Full-time manual focus override is also available at any time simply by rotating the focus ring.
The Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S lens has a generously wide focus ring that's very nicely damped and ridged for easier grip.
The electronically coupled focus ring makes ultra-fine adjustments very easy.
The focus throw is very large to allow for more precise manual adjustments when shooting macro subjects.
You can also adjust the focus throw to match your preferred way of working and reverse the focus direction of the lens too, although only on a Z-mount camera released after October 2020.
The Focus Range Limiter switch prevents the lens from hunting through the entire focusing range. There are two options - Full and 05.m to 0.29m.
There are no hard stops at both ends of the range, though, making it more difficult to set focus at infinity.
Polariser users should be pleased that the 62mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.
When it comes to auto-focusing, the Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S zoom proved to be a fairly quick performer on the Nikon Z6 II camera that we tested it with, taking about 0.25 seconds to lock onto the subject.
We didn't experience too much "hunting" in good light, with the lens quickly and accurately focusing almost all of the time. It does struggle a little more in low-light conditions, though, often requiring a few attempts to successfully lock onto the subject.
For a macro lens, it's a very quiet performer thanks to the integrated Dual-Motor Multi-Focus STM internal focusing system, making it well-suited to both stills and movie shooting.
Focus breathing is virtually non-existent on this lens, so you can safely shift focus during video recording without affecting the angle of view.
The Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S features built-in stabilisation driven by voice-coil motors that is worth up to 4.5 stops of compensation It also combines with in-camera VR (if available) for steadier handheld shots even in low light.
This lens continues the Z-series use of a thin customizable control ring, to which you can assign control over aperture, exposure compensation and ISO.
There's also a customizable Lens-function (L-Fn) button which is set to AE-L by default but can be configured to one of a range of key camera settings.
Finally, the multi-function OLED display can be toggled between showing the current focus distance, depth of field markers and aperture setting by pressing the DISP button and it works well in both bright and dark situations.
The Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S is supplied with an excellent plastic round lens hood (HB-99) which locks into place when fully engaged and a very good quality lens case (CL-C2).
The Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S's focal length of 105mm provides an angle of view of 23.10 degrees.
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as blue or purple fringes along contrasty edges, were not very apparent in our test shots, only appearing in very high contrast areas.
There's virtually no barrel or pincushion distortion evident in either the JPEG or RAW files.
With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/2.8, there is some fairlyobvious light fall-off in the corners, requiring you to stop down by at least 2 f-stops to prevent it.
The Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S offers a minimum focusing distance of 29cm with a maximum magnification of 1x / 1:1.
Sunstars and Flare
The Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S doesn't create the nicest sunstars when stopped-down to f/22 or f/32, as shown below, although flare is at least fairly well controlled when shooting directly into the sun.
Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc.
In the Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S lens, Nikon employed an iris diaphragm with 9 rounded blades, which has resulted in very nice bokeh in our view.
We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included lots of examples below for your perusal.
In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.