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Review by Markus Stamm, published January 2017
Special thanks to Dr. Roland Rudolphi for providing the lens!
I must admit that at first I wasn't too excited when Nikon announced the AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED. Those specs, f/1.4 at 105mm, that really sounded a bit too ambitious. Probably a lens focused on 'character' rather than performance, a blown-up tele version of the bokehlicious AF-S 58/1.4. Even the high price (currently retailing for around 2300 EUR) fitted this initial perception.
Seeing the MTF charts published by Nikon changed that impression, though. And first reviews and early adopters confirmed that Nikon obviously didn't add just another f/1.4 to their portfolio, but in fact delivered a very capable lens.
So, let's have a look how the lens performs in our test lab.
Let's start with the less exciting stuff and talk about some specs and build quality first. If you've handled any of the current Nikkor f/1.4 primes, especially the AF-S 58/1.4 or the AF-S 85/1.4, the 105mm lens will look very familiar at first. However, that doesn't prepare you well for the dimension and weight of it. For a short tele prime, it is huge and heavy.
Apart from size and weight, it is indeed very similar to it's closest siblings, which means it comes with an outer barrel that might be either high-end plastic or a magnesium alloy (which still feels like plastic), unfortunately the official specs don't mention the material used. However, Nikon claims the lens is sealed to resist dust and moisture.
There is one feature that sets it apart from the other Gold Ring f/1.4 primes: it's the first lens of that group to feature an electronically controlled aperture (thus the 'E' designation in its name). So far, Nikon restricted this modern aperture variant to it's high end long primes, the PC-E tilt shift lenses and the recently announced 70-200/2.8E VR.
The broad, rubberized focus ring operates smoothly. It's worth mentioning that the lens' focus mechanism follows the focus ring movement immediately and without any delay.
The AF is very fast and near noiseless. The physical length of the lens remains constant during focus operation and the huge front element does not rotate.
As is the case for all new Nikkors for many years now, the AF-S 105/1.4E is a G-type lens and thus does not offer an aperture ring.
|Optical construction||14 elements in 9 groups including 3 ED, Nano Crystal Coat and fluorine coated elements|
|Number of aperture blades||9 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||1.0m (max. magnification ratio 1:7.7)|
|Filter size||82mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||barrel-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)|
|Other features||Lens provides distance (D) information to the camera, Silent Wave AF motor|