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Nikon 105mm f/2.5 AI-s. enlarge.
You can get these used at this link to Adorama. It helps me keep adding to this site when you use these links, thanks!
This was a popular lens since its introduction in 1959 through about 1990. It has been sold in all the mechanical configurations from the original pre-AI F mount of 1959 through today's superior AI-s version. The optics remain the same.
Only with the adoption of the 80-200 f/2.8 zoom lens by most working professionals around 1990 has the 105 f/2.5 fallen out of most photographers' bags. Therefore you can get them cheap, and even brand new they are very reasonable for what you get.
As of 2007 it no longer appears to be available new in the USA, no big deal since there are a zillion out there used. You ought to be able to find them at Adorama here; when I looked in July 2007 they had about a dozen.
Five elements in four groups.
Seven-bladed diaphragm stopping down to f/22.
Closest focus 1m.
Takes 52mm filters.
It's 2.5" (64mm) around by 3.1" (78mm) long and weighs 15 oz. (435g).
The 1969 non-AI version weighs 375.8g or 13.260 oz. and is 2.550" (64.73 mm) long x 2.599" (66.02mm) diameter.
I bought a couple of these while I had my 105mm f/1.8. The f/2.5 has such folklore behind it I thought it had to be better. Nope. In each case it was the same as my 105mm f/1.8, so I returned the f/2.5s. Now with the MTF tests posted at Photodo.com we can discern fact from folklore: the 1.8 is a bit sharper.
It's sharp at all apertures in all points of the image.
Its light falloff goes away by f/5.6.
How does the 105/2.5 compare to the 105 f/1.8?
I never have seen any difference between the 1.8 and 2.5, even when making direct comparison tests. Therefore in real photography there will be no visible difference at all, save for the availability of maximum aperture and less vignetting at the same larger apertures with the f/1.8. At f/5.6 and smaller there is no difference at all. Photodo.com MTF tested slightly higher values for the f/1.8 on a machine, but these are too close to make any visible difference.
The 105mm is a swell lens. Personally I prefer the field of view of an 85mm or the speed of the 105mm f/1.8, but I'm weird. The newer (since 1977) versions of the 105mm f/2.5 have a handy built-in lens hood and they all take the standard 52mm filters. They are all compact and super sharp, but no more so than the equally superior 85mm f/2.0 and 105mm f/1.8.
Don't confuse this lens with the 100mm f/2.8 Series E. The Series E is a swell lens too, but it's odd to see people pay as much for the Series E as they will for the superior 105mm f/2.5. The 105 has been a benchmark professional lens for decades and is built to the highest mechanical standard Nikon has ever attained, while the 100mm Series E was somewhat less sturdy, but still optically superb and better than most modern AF lenses.
This is a great lens and therefore has no flaws to write about. If you want one, buy one. They are all over the place second hand or new.
I find that they are more suited to fixed use in a studio. An 80-200 2.8 zoom is my preference for use out in the field.
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