As photographers, we are often looking for that next spark of creativity.
While purchasing new gear is sometimes frowned upon to achieve this endeavor, a macro lens offers up a whole new world.
I use macro lenses at weddings for rings and other close-up details, but while reviewing the Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro lens I shot everything from old coins to vintage camera details.
Just like that, my creative juices began to flow as I could see an entire world of close-up photography available to me.
I have not even scratched the surface of what one can do with a dedicated macro lens to shoot macro subjects.
Macro lenses come in various focal lengths, and 105mm is the average focal length for these specialty lenses and one of the most popular.
Let’s see if this Nikon Z mirrorless camera lens is right for you.
Table of Contents
Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens Specs
- Impossibly sharp.
- Surprisingly lightweight.
- Reasonably priced.
- Optical stabilization that pairs with the body.
- Stunning image quality.
- Weather sealed.
- Modern features like function buttons, a control ring (for exposure compensation, ISO, and more), and a digital display.
- Internal focusing.
- Slightly below average in focusing speed.
Focal Length: 105mm
Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
Minimum Aperture: f/32
Lens Construction: 16 elements in 11 groups
Angle of View: 23°20′
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.29m (0.96ft)
Maximum Magnification Ratio: 1x
Filter Size: 62mm
Image Stabilization: Yes (VR – Vibration Reduction)
Dimensions (Diameter x Length): Approx. 83mm x 140mm (3.3 in. x 5.5 in.)
Weight: Approx. 630g (1 lb 6.2 oz)
Build & Ergonomics
The Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens is very well built and is weather sealed for those outdoor photo opportunities.
What surprised me is how lightweight this lens is, especially for an autofocus lens in this focal length.
The lens comes with a lens hood that locks solidly into place, although it does add length to the lens, which may hinder all-important light needed for macro photography.
An autofocus limiter switch is on the side, along with all of the modern Nikon features, such as a lens function button, control ring, and digital display.
Personally, I disable all of these features as I’m often bumping into things and shooting in a fast-paced environment.
However, for serious macro shooters, programming ISO onto the control ring or seeing the focal plane distance displayed can be very helpful.
I find the Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens to focus about as fast as most macro lenses, meaning a tad slower than, say, the portrait lens equivalent such as the Nikon 105mm f/1.4 E lens.
This is not surprising, and it would not hinder my decision in buying this lens.
During macro work, using the focus limiter switch helps out the speed quite a bit. Nikon also has a great manual focus override feature that can be coupled with focus peaking for critical focus.
In good light, you will not notice any slowdown, but in low-light conditions, you will see an ever-so-slight slowdown in focus speed.
The accuracy of the autofocus is perfect in my findings.
I wanted to use the lens as I would at a wedding, meaning handheld in all situations. Despite my shakiness, the images are incredibly sharp.
If one took their time with the camera and lens on a tripod, the results would probably be even better.
Have no doubt this is the sharpest macro lens I have ever used, and I have used quite a few in various systems.
I did not see any chromatic aberration, so you will be saving yourself a ton of time in post-production by using a high-quality lens such as this one.
One thing to keep in mind, although this focal length is perfect for portraits, you will be getting the same sharp results. Depending on your subject, this may be a bad thing when it comes to showing flaws in the skin.
I ran into another photographer who happens to have very good skin and put the Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens into double duty as a portrait lens with great results.
While the out-of-focus areas aren’t as incredible as a dedicated portrait lens, they are lovely nonetheless.
Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens Sample Images
Here are some sample images taken with the Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens using a Nikon Z9.
How I Tested the Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens
I used the Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens exclusively with a Nikon Z9 camera body. This gave me dual IS from the lens as well as the camera’s IBIS.
All images were shot handheld to simulate how I might use the lens in my profession as a wedding and event photographer.
I concentrated on using the lens as it is intended, a close-up macro optic. However, I did manage a few portraits as I really like the 105mm focal length for this.
I got a feel for the lens by spending a day with it in downtown Chicago before I took it into my home for some makeshift product photography.
It really opened me up to pursue the world of close-up photography a lot more than I have.
Nikon released a wider macro lens along with this one, the Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens which I recently reviewed.
You can save money by getting that lens and shooting with a wider perspective or going into crop mode on your camera body for a longer focal length, albeit a lower-resolution image.
These are the only native dedicated macro lenses for Nikon Z mirrorless system.
Another alternative would be the older Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.
However, this would require you to mount with an adapter and also inherit that expense, so I would recommend staying with this Z-mount version.
Manual focus is often a preferred choice for macro photographers, so do consider the Voigtlander MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm f/2 Aspherical for Nikon Z.
At this writing, there are no other telephoto macro lenses for the Nikon Z system.
You will have to determine what your macro distances are for your chosen subjects and pick the correct macro lens option.
The close focusing distances of the other options are different and will certainly affect your choice.
Value for Money
At around $1000, the Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens is priced very reasonably for one of the best macro lenses ever made.
The fact that this can double as a portrait lens makes it an even better value.
A third-party manual focus lens will offer you considerable savings. However, unless close-up photography is of limited interest to you, then this flagship macro lens from Nikon is the way to go.
The VR image stabilization is worth it to someone like me who does most of their work handheld.
Can this lens be used on a Nikon F-Mount DSLR?
No, this lens is strictly for Z-Mount.
Can this lens be used on crop sensor bodies such as the Nikon Z 50?
Yes, but due to crop factor the focal length equivalent will be 157.5mm.
Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens Review | Conclusion
The Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens truly is the best macro lens I have ever used.
I haven’t run into any duds from Nikon lenses since they began releasing lenses for their mirrorless Z mount, but this one is a cut above.
It is priced within reach of enthusiast photographers who want to capture nature in their home gardens. For pros who rely on a close-up lens for their living, this product is a no-brainer.
I do believe I will be getting one shortly and retiring my old manual focus macro lens that I use at weddings.
This macro lens would also be the perfect companion for the Nikon ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter Set for digitizing your analog images.
If you love this focal length for portraits, this lens will also serve that purpose, or you can mount via the FTZ adapter the much faster Nikon 105mm f/1.4 E lens.