Allan Armstrong , Mar 03, 2011; 01:34 a.m.
I purchased a 105 f2.8 AF micro in 1993 and it has been one of my most useful lenses since. In 1993, I shot film and used the 105 for macro and portraits. Now that I'm shooting digital, I don't do so much macro, and shooting DX my 50 f1.8 (from 1993) is also a good portrait lens, but I appreciate the 105 micro's longer focal length for outdoors and its close focusing for food. More recently, I have the 70-200 f2.8 VR, so I don't use the 105 micro for portraits any more but it is a really good studio tool. It is probably the single best lens purchase I have made.
I have not owned the other lenses you are considering, but here are my opinions comparing it to the:
- Tokina 100 macro -- I've never had an issue with Nikkor glass and I often learn of deficiences of non-Nikkor glass. You get what you pay for. Also, the 105 f2.8 AF micro would be used, so it would not depreciate. I think you can get one for $350 now. If you chose to get the Tokina lens, it would depreciate like a brand new car.
- Nikkor 60 micro -- More working distance is always an advantage for macro work. The 60 might be a better length for portrait than 105, but you could always pick up a $120 50 f1.8 to plug that hole.
- Nikkor AF-S 105 f2.8 VR micro -- I like the old one better because it is much cheaper and the front element is recessed, giving it a built-in hood. What a nice lens!
I frequently use the 105 f2.8 AF micro in the studio. I also have a 70-200 f2.8 VR2, but it is big and bulky, so I prefer the 105 micro. Often when I get to the final image I shoot with the 105 micro, I also shoot it with the 70-200. The 70-200 is claimed to be one of Nikon's best in terms of image quality (sharpness, bokeh, etc.) but I never notice any advantage over the 105 micro.
Outside the studio, for sports and portraits, the 70-200 f2.8 VR2 is the bomb. The 105 f2.8 AF micro is lacking zoom, VR, and focusing speed. The 105 micro is a great tool for macro and stuido work and if you're ok with no VR and no zoom, a great portrait lens also.
If I were considering the 105 f2.8 AF-S micro, I'd get the 85 f2.8 PC-E instead. I'd love to have a tilt-shift lens. Unfortunately, that bad boy is $2k.