Today, Nikon announced a new fast prime portrait lens, the AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED Nikkor. This is a super-fast lens that should deliver amazing bokeh when used at or near its maximum f/1.4 aperture. It is designed to cover FX (full-frame) Nikon sensors, but will approximate a 161mm telephoto lens if you use it on a DX Nikon DSLR, such as the Nikon D500.
What it’s got:
- 3 ED glass elements
- Nano-crystal coat
- Electromagnetic diaphragm (improves aperture accuracy)
- Fluorine coating
- 9-blade aperture
All of these design features imply that this will be a very sharp, well-corrected lens that delivers smooth bokeh. That’s exactly what portrait and wedding photographers want from a portrait lens.
MTF Chart (From Nikon)
What it doesn’t have
- Vibration Reduction (VR)
- Limited to f/16
My guess is that Nikon went for pure optical performance with this lens design, and didn’t want to include VR. Indoors, most portrait photographers use strobes or flash, negating the need for VR. Outdoor conditions will typically be bright enough to allow very fast shutter speeds even at low ISO settings. The f/16 limit is similar to other Nikon portrait lenses, such as the 85mm f/1.4.
- Filter thread: 82mm
- Minimum focus distance: 1.0m (3.3′)
- Reproduction ratio: 0.13x (1:7.7)
- Weight: 985g (2 lb 2.8 oz)
The Nikon AFS 105mm f/1.4E ED Nikkor lens is expected to be available in late August. You can check the price and pre-order it here.
Similar lenses to consider
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AFS G VR micro-Nikkor
This is a great lens, designed for close-up photography, but it’s also a good portrait choice. It can stop down to f/32 for extreme depth of field when doing macro work, and includes image stabilization.
Nikon’s classic autofocus portrait lens with an interesting “Defocus Control” design, which allows you to control the out of focus area. On digital cameras, you’re likely to see more chromatic aberration (especially axial CA) than you would with newer lens designs. This lens does not have stabilization or AFS focusing, so you’ll need to use it on a Nikon DSLR that includes the “screwdriver” type AF motor in the F-mount.