NIKKOR 105mm F2.5

SPECS

Year: 1973
Focal Length: 105mm
Maximum Aperture: 2.5
Minimum Aperture: 32
Aperture Blades: 7
Weight: 435 grams
Filter Size: 52mm
Angle of View: 23 degrees
Minimum Focusing Distance: 1 meter
Lens Hood: HS-4

(specs courtesy of Richard de Stoutz)

I bought into the online hype in regards to this popular vintage Nikon portrait lens.  Its popularity comes from the photographer Steve McCurry and his famous National Geographic cover of the young Afghan girl.  The lens used by the photographer to capture that iconic image was the Nikkor 105mm f2.5 portrait lens.  This notable image resulted in an almost cult status for this particular lens.  It’s known to be very well built, a comfortable size and very sharp. There are a fair number of YouTube vid’s on this lens.  So I eventually bit-the-bullet and purchased it.

This purchase was a bit of a win for me.  It was an ebay purchase from a seller that had many odd items listed due to an estate sale.  Because it was not tested the person selling the lens had to list it ‘for parts or not working’.  I believe this scared many buyers off because of this classification plus it was priced at approx 50% the cost of other comparable listings (but were labelled as ‘tested and fully working’).  I contacted the buyer and asked what is wrong with the lens since it looked to be in excellent condition based on the posted photos.  The seller told me that it was from an estate sale and since they don’t know anything about camera gear they had to list it as ‘for parts or not working’.  So I took a gamble and purchased the lens.  It was a win for me.  The lens is cosmetically in great shape with a smooth focus ring and a nice responsive click to the aperture ring.  Looking inside the lens I cannot see any signs of dust or mold or oil on the aperture blade.  What a great find!  It didn’t come with a lens hood so I went back to ebay and found one well priced from a well established U.S. seller.  These lens hoods are quite prevalent, so it was just a matter of finding one in great shape for a reasonable price.  The lens hood was a separate purchase as well.

One characteristic of manual focus lenses is they get harder to precisely focus as the focal length increases.  As the focal length increased, the depth of field decreases even when shooting at the same aperture (f-stop) of wider lenses.  I have and used manual focus 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 56mm adapted lenses on my Fujifilm bodies without much trouble in focusing.  But this lens with its ~158mm focal length is a different story.  Right away I found it harder to nail focus.  The slightest movement of the focus ring or camera movement (in me simply moving ever-so slightly) results in the focus peek markers in the EVF moving off the subject.  But like all things, it just takes practice.   I’m noticing more keepers as I use the lens more.   Also, camera shake becomes more of an issue with the longer focal length.  When using my Canon FD 24mm I can confidently hand hold the camera at approx 1/30 of second (as it has an effective focal length of 35mm).  But with this ~160mm telephoto prime … I find I need to be closer to 1/250.  It’s simply my shooting technique.  I don’t have very steady hands and when I get into telephoto lenses that don’t have image stabilization, I notice it.  But in fair lighting, shooting at f4 and 1/250 (while keeping a lower ISO) isn’t a problem.  I commonly use f4 because of the slight increase in depth of field and a noticeably sharper image.  But in the right conditions and a successful focus … wide open @ f2.5 looks really good.

With this classic portrait lens mounted on my Fujifilm XT2 via a K&F Concept adapter, I’m ready to capture some fun images.  Here is a collection of my first several weeks with the lens.

 

Copyright © Adam Woodhouse 2017