I borrowed my Dad’s Nikon Micro-Nikkor 105mm f2.8 AI-s to do some macro / micro shooting some time ago, and since the Nikon D810 is here for review, I thought it would be a great camera to try out the 105mm on.
Here’s the 105mm on the Nikon D810. The lens hood is pretty deep, close to half the length of the lens.
I decided to go with constant lighting so I didn’t have to worry about flash cycling times, plus it was easier to manual focus with the room more brightly lit. Two 70w (350W equivalent) CFL bulbs on a lightstand took care of that. You can also see my tripod in the foreground, almost an essential requirement for shooting macro photos, especially with a manual focus lens. Propped up against the back of the couch is a piece of black foamcore, my simple black background solution which is awesome for many things as it’s cheap and portable (and disposable if need be).
Here’s the little orchid. It looks bigger in this macro photo, but look again at the previous photo showing the set-up and lighting. This is a very small orchid, just a baby. The circumference of the bottom of the pot is about the size of a silver dollar.
Here you can see just how shallow the depth of field is with the Nikon Micro-Nikkor 105mm f2.8 AI-s lens at f2.8. Only the tips of the orchid’s two front petals are in focus.
You can see again in this photo the extreme shallow depth of field at f2.8 as the tall, rear petal of the orchid is the only thing in focus. Note how smooth and creamy the bokeh is from this lens.
This crop of the above photo shows the yellow tongue of the orchid close-up. One REALLY nice thing about shooting macro photos with the Nikon D810 is the wide latitude for cropping that the 36 megapixel files allow.
Here you can see that the nose of the flower (I think you call this the anther cap if I’m reading the orchid anatomy diagram I googled correctly) is the only thing in focus. (I know, I know, I can stop down and get everything in focus, but I was having fun with the shallow depth of field at f2.8.)
I don’t remember what the exact aperture (perhaps f16) was on the above shot, but obviously it’s stopped down in comparison to the others as most of the orchid flower is in focus. I ended up putting the Nikon SB-910 in the hot shoe of the D810 and bouncing it up and slightly back into the ceiling to get the additional light needed for the smaller aperture.
Next up, I switched out the White Orchid for a Miniature African Violet. The tiny flowers were especially suited for the Micro-Nikkor 105mm.
By the way, these were are processed from RAW in Adobe Lightroom, with the only adjustments being a slight exposure adjustment on a couple photos. Most of them are as shot, which was fairly easy since I did several different exposures for each image when I shot them.
I like the look of this one. Something about the solitary violet against the creamy bokeh. Natural solitude.
This is a crop of the above photo. Manual focusing with the Nikon D810 was fairly easy using LiveView since you have the ability to magnify the image on the rear LCD to an extreme level. It’s pretty easy to confirm focus when you can zoom in so heavily and see such a magnified view.
The focus ring on the Nikon Micro-Nikkor 105mm f2.8 AI-s is a dream. It’s damped to such a level that it feels like the smoothest pneumatic action you’ve ever put pressure to. The resistance is fairly strong, and that’s a good thing for macro photography.
The build quality of the 105mm is fantastic. It’s all metal, no plastic, and it just screams of manufacturing excellence. Makes me want to collect an AI-s or pre-AI metal version of all my favorite lenses. I like this AI-s version better than the Nikon Micro-Nikkor 105mm f2.8G VR AF-S lens I used to own.
As I noted earlier, the Nikon D810 makes a great camera for macro photography because you have room to heavily crop the 36 megapixel files. Add to that the ability to use older non-AF lenses like the Micro-Nikkor 105mm f2.8 AI-s I used here, and it’s a great choice, perhaps the BEST in the whole, current Nikon DSLR line-up.
Camera Gear Used & Discussed in this Article: