Nikon 105 2.5


Nikon 105 2.5

nikon 105 2.5
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Nikon 105 2.5

Introduction – Nikon 105 2.5

I checked several older Nikkor manual focus lenses because usually you can get one fairly cheaply and some of them has great quality even today. I checked several ones, in order to find which are the best among them. The Nikon 105mm f/2.5 is one of the candidates, as the lens still has a very high reputation. The lens has an f/1.8 version as well, which is even more desirable because of the brighter maximum aperture, which makes background blur is even more smooth. The 105mm is a very useful range for portraits. The f/1.8 version is even little better optically as well. The f/2.5 is not a much common aperture like the f/2.8 or f/1.8 but seems very good, little brighter than f/2.8 and not so big like f/1.8 allows the lens to be smaller.

Ai or Ai-S – Nikon 105 2.5

The Ai-s lenses started with a serial number of 890172 see the picture below. Ai lenses has a serial number of 7xxx. There are several older versions as well.

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The lens perhaps cannot be used easily on entry level d3xxx and d5xxx camera bodies, because metering doesn’t work. Autofocus doesn’t work anyway, because it is a manual focus lens. On the Nikon d7000 I managed to use the lens, but only in Aperture priority mode. Wide open the lens meters correctly, but stopped down, I need to correct the exposure compensation in order to get a properly exposed picture. In longer terms perhaps one can used to it which aperture which compensation needed. In short term some of my pictures come out fairly overexposed and I guessed a compensation value in order to get a properly exposed picture.

Build quality

The Nikon 105 2.5 lens is made of metal as usual among older Nikon lenses. Despite the f/2.5 max aperture the lens is quite compact, which I like very much. This is a manual focus lens, the manual focus ring operates quite nicely. The lens has an f/1.8 version as well which is even more desirable. In my Nikon d7000 I only can operate the lens at Aperture priority mode. The aperture I only can adjust by the aperture ring on the lens. The problem with it that if you stop down the lens, the metering is not correct, because with digital lenses the lens is always at open aperture, and the camera stop down the lens at the point of shutter release. With these manual focus lenses, the aperture regulated by the aperture ring, not by the camera body, which means when you stop down the lens the camera meters incorrectly.

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Optical quality

The Nikon 105 2.5 is a very good lens. The contrast, colours and sharpness is all very good. Obviously don’t expect that an old lens overperform the much newer very expensive cousins in test charts.
There are two issues though:
1. Manual focusing can be hard on longer focusing distances. In closer distances (5-15m) is more easy, and precise. Anyway manual focusing in any case not as good as autofocusing. The issue is more pronounced at larger apertures, where the depth of field is more shallow. For portraits these apertures the most preferred in order to blur the background.
2. Exposure is not so automatic like with digital lenses. I think this issue with extensive usage and testing can be quite ok.
The picture quality is better what I expected, and leaves nothing to be desired in the portrait range as I see it. For longer distances manual focusing is not so easy as I see it.
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The lens has nice bokeh, thanks to the 105mm focal length and f/2.5 maximum aperture.
nikon 105 2.5 bokeh

What is this lens good for ?

This is a very nice portraits lens. The 105mm may be a little long for crop Dx cameras for some, I think I can live with it. The problem comes when you want two people in the frame from close distances like 2-3 meter. For this the lens is a little bit long. You need several meter extra for a two people shot.

Focal length: 105mm
Maximum aperture: f/2.5
Aperture range: f/2.5-f/22
Lenses/elements:5 elements / in 4 groups
Filter size: 52mm
Autofocusing: No
Aperture blades: 7 straight blades
Aperture ring: yes
Made from metal
Best usage: portraits
Made in : Japan

This is a unique lens with interesting characteristics. If I say if you have a 105mm f/2.8 macro (Nikon, Sigma, or the Tamron 90), or if you have a 85mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 portraits lens, you don’t need this lens, this statement just doesn’t tell what I think. Perhaps the above mentioned lenses are sharper than this lens, but the picture comes out is simply not the same. Doesn’t mean better or worse, just different. The pic the lens makes looks quite natural, sharp, and has very nice colors and contrast.


-Excellent picture quality
-Relatively cheap
-f/2.5 aperture
-nice bokeh


-Manual focusing
-Metering is not automatic, perhaps this is the biggest drawback
-Perhaps hard to find clean copies
-No exif data pixel-peeping

Bottom line/verdict

The Nikon 105 2.5mm lens is a very interesting manual focus lens. Unfortunately the lens is no longer in production, but can be found on the used market. What is perhaps hard to find a good clean copy of the old lens. The lens is quite sharp if we focus properly and has nice bokeh. The other important factor is how much do they ask for a used copy. Compare to new lenses the manual focus and manual aperture is a serious drawback. Despite this drawbacks it is very easy to like this lens. Simply this is a fantastic lens.

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