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Monday, October 25, 2010

Wildlife Photography with Nikon 105mm f2.8G VR

Warning: This is not a review of AF-S Nikkor 105mm f2.8G Micro VR instead this is just to share my experience using this lens on wildlife. I most of the time use this awesome lens (despite of its minor flaws) for portraits and macro shots of inanimate objects or toys (not the one you are thinking naughty you) so this is a departure from my regular usage of Nikon 105mm f2.8 VR and I won't be discussing any technical specifications or MTF charts on that matter 'cause I can assure you this lens is sharp (I did a few front and back focus testing of my own). Let's treat this as a simple field application of this lens and my “likes” and “dislikes” while I’m using it for wildlife. Take note that all photos are shot hand-held without the use of any tripod or monopods and I can say that it’s not “proper macro photography” the fact that I didn’t use any ring light or the Nikon R1C1 Macro lighting system. I just want to see for myself if it’s possible to shoot macro photography hand-held with the use of VR (vibration reduction in Nikon terms) or IS (Image Stabilization in canon terms) on just available lighting like other photographers claim.


"AF-S VR Micro NIKKOR ED 105mm F2.8G (IF)"
or Nikon 105mm VR for short

Again this is not a technical review of this lens. If you're looking for good in-depth review there's a lot out there in the web. You might wanna check the links bellow:

Photozone Nikon 105mm f2.8G Micro VR Review
Cameralabs Nikon 105mm f2.8 Micro VR Review
Thom Hogan Nikon 105mm f2.8 Micro VR Review
Ken Rockwell Nikon 105mm f2.8 Micro VR Review

Portraiture and Short Telephoto

My experience in portraiture for this lens is great either on controlled or uncontrolled situations I can’t find anything to complain about it just don’t forget to switch the focus limiter or else the focus barrel will focus from minimum to infinity. It gives you “bokeh” almost as good as the Nikon 85mm f1.8D if you know the right technique. You can check my daughter's photo for bokeh sample. This lens has a minimum aperture of 2.8 if use as short telephoto and might stop down (like floating aperture) of f3 to f4 on macro or its minimum focus distance. I also used this lens as a short telephoto on my Voyage de la Vie photo series and it never gave me any problem in focusing knowing that the theater is very dark. There is one concern though which is the focus breathing. The focus sometimes is hard to frame because of this. Looking at the viewfinder you can see the subject gets bigger or smaller making the focus barrel go in full turn which is quite annoying sometimes but not that big-a-deal if your patient (haha). All in all for portraiture and short tele this baby is a winner.

Wildlife and Macro

This is eyebrow raising challenge, shooting critters with this lens hand-held. This is my version of “Photography Myth Buster” I will prove to myself how true the claim of Nikon (on paper) and other Nikon 105mm VR owners that this lens is capable of macro/micro photography without the use of a tripod using only the Vibration Reduction system or VR for short. I know a lot will react (hope not violently) about this but you can judge for yourself. The blurred edges on some macro photos are not CA (Chromatic Aberrations) or Color Fringing it’s probably the cause of the wind or my finger clicking the shutter giving it a slight movement hence the blur. The lens might block available lighting so I shoot on high ISO (1000-1200) not bad for the Nikon D700. For the regular telephoto use It’s not that hard to manage unless your face to face with a wild boar thinking you’re some kind of threat to its pack and to its babies. This encounter is the most exciting part of my field test also good way to promote ecological awareness and another way to connect with mother nature.

The Photos 


"Yellow Spider 1"


"Yellow Spider 2"


Photo taken with Nikon D700 and AF-S Nikkor 105mm f2.8 Micro VR (VR on handheld) at Pulao Ubin Singapore Nature Reserve. This photo is originally in Raw format exported as Jpeg for web upload. This spider landed on my forearm and i just took a snapshot of it but it's really not that easy because this critter is moving all over my arm so i need to hold still at the same time catching up with it moving like crazy.


"Cotton Stainer Bug"

Photo taken with Nikon D700 and AF-S Nikkor 105mm f2.8 Micro VR (VR on handheld) at Pulao Ubin Singapore Nature Reserve. This photo is originally in Raw format exported as Jpeg for web upload. A bit windy hard to hold still. I wish I had my tripod with me.


"Yellow Tang"


"Blue Fish"

Photo taken with Nikon D700 and AF-S Nikkor 105mm f2.8 Micro VR (VR on handheld) at Pulao Ubin Singapore HSBC Museum of aquatic life. This photo is originally in Raw format exported as Jpeg for web upload.


"Wild Boar"

Photo taken with Nikon D700 and AF-S Nikkor 105mm f2.8 Micro VR (VR on handheld) at Pulao Ubin Singapore Nature Reserve. This photo is originally in Raw format exported as Jpeg for web upload. This wild boar just stop in front of me starring and approaching me. I good opportunity to shoot up-close good thing it doesn't have tusks (or else i'll be a bit intimidated) could be a female or a young boar. Then others saw me with boar they just go nuts and start taking photos not as discreetly as I did but noisy and aggressively made the boar run away.

Conclusion

A lot of positive reviews about this lens were published in the internet from web magazines, blogs and video blogs and all of them are saying that this lens can deliver exceptional photos when handled correctly. Sharpness, creamy bokeh and spot on focus accuracy are just few features expected from this pro-grade lens buts does it really deliver? Answer is "yes" based on my photo shoot specially the claim that VR works on macro photography. There are certain limitations that needs to consider like focus breathing and drop of f-stop on close focus distance. It's not a perfect lens buts it's excellent when used properly. People who says that VR is only good for low shutter speed doesn't really know what their talking about. They're forgetting that framing a subject (specially in macro) is very important you can see the difference of frame shake with VR on. It's more stable and less time consuming. This will be one of my favorite lens. Borrow one if you have doubts but I recommend you buying it 100%. 

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4 comments:

  1. Hello,

    Really your post is very informative and I enjoyed your opinions. Wildlife Photography is one of the best ways to show to a broader public the values and the necessity of hunting and wildlife management. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Ritchie. I appreciate your comment. I will do more lens field testing in the future or I can say "Myth Busting". Cheers!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. amazing macro photography, beauty and sharp tone
    Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete