My New Toy: Nikkor AF-S Micro 105mm F2.8 ED

I got a new toy today! I have other pictures I need to be taking like the Pelikan m200’s and Sailor 1911’s we just got in, but I can’t stop playing with my new lens ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve mentioned before that I shoot all our product photography with a Nikon D3100, and I just got this righteous lens to get the finest detail I can on our pens.

Nikkor AF-S Micro 105mm F2.8 ED

Nikkor 105mm on my D3100

The main advantage of this lens is that I’m able to get very fine details on small objects like nibs and pen ornamentation. I went with the 105mm so that I could have a little more range than some of the other micro (aka macro) lenses, which is especially key when shooting in a light tent like I do. Just check out some of the detail I’m able to get on the Platinum Modern Maki-e Crane pen:

Platinum Modern Maki-e Crane

Platinum Modern Maki-e Crane, ultra-fine detail focused on the Crane’s wing.
Platinum 3776 Steel Nib, detailed focus on the stamped logo on the nib, subtle ‘3776’ on the centerband behind it.

Platinum 3776 Black Century, crisp detail on the feed.

Stepping up my game on our product photography for both and Ink Nouveau is something I’m taking seriously for 2012, and I have some aggressive projects I’m pursuing. I just wanted to blog to share my excitement as this lens is a bit of a ‘holy grail’ lens for me, and I’m excited about its possibilities. Granted, it’s my first day and I plan to get a LOT better with it, but after messing around for a couple of hours, I’m thrilled with the shots I’m getting so far.

2017-10-11T13:09:22+00:00 February 8th, 2012|A Goulet Life|59 Comments
  • what a gorgeous pen that Platinum is! And yay for your new lens and all the upcoming eye-candy it'll bring for us ๐Ÿ˜€

  • The Modern Maki-e is indeed a beautiful pen…the detail on this pen and ones like it are precisely why I wanted to take such detailed pictures! You can fully expect more shots like this (and better, as I learn to use this lens more).ย 

  • Nice lens! I am looking forward to seeing more photos. Do you think you'll do more 'ink in water' pictures sometime? Those were really neat!

  • And of course it will work for new baby portraits as well.

  • Very nice!

  • OH my gosh, I've been dying to do more of those! Having a new baby though, I just haven't been able to find the time to play around with fun stuff like that ๐Ÿ™ I definitely plan to though. eventually!

  • Indeed!

  • Thanks! It's been fun so far.

  • Marc Bloom

    I used to work in a camera store and soldย an earlier version of this lens. If you are going to use it for portraits of adults, espcially women, you'll need a soft focus filter. On it's own, this lens will show EVERY line, wrinkle and blemish on human skin.
    Love the picture of the crane, what was the exposure?

  • Yeah, I really just got it for macro, I'll look into the filter if I'm going to use it for portraits. I had the crane pic an F/16, 1/8sec shutter, ISO 200. I'm finding that I'm getting such a shallow DOF if I go any less than F/8 or so. Unless I want to go for 'artsy-fartsy' shots, I'm having to go narrow on my aperture.ย 

  • Very nice! One of the (many) things I've always liked about is the good photos, and now they're going to be even better!

  • Melinda

    I first saw the thumbnail of the first photo and thought to myself, "Wow, what an odd-shaped ink bottle!" Then I saw the blog title. ๐Ÿ˜›

    I love macro shots, and am very much looking forward to seeing what your new lens can do! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ted

    Okay, now that is just going to be totally unfair to my budget! How am I ever going to be able to resist with the gorgeous images you'll be putting up. Fantastic.

  • Brian Gray

    You realize that lens looks like a beer keg hanging off of your little D3100!

    Might be time to upgrade that camera!


  • Now that is impressive!! ย Wow! ย A good investment, for sure! ย ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Penemuel

    Honestly don't know if I'm drooling more at the lens or the pen!

  • Haha! That would be one VERY expensive bottle of ink! ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 

  • Haha…I wasn't sure if you were talking about the lens or the pens… ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yes, I know that it will make the pens look more tempting, I'm lying if I say that's not the point!ย 

  • haha….well, the D800 was just announced yesterday! That would look pretty balanced with the 105mm ๐Ÿ˜‰ I feel like I've drank a keg of beer when I'm freehand shooting with this lens, talk about razor thing DOF, open this sucker up to F4 and you can hardly tell what's going on!

  • Thanks! The photog thing is as much a hobby as a business use for me, I'm lucky in that respect!ย 

  • Haha, that's why I posted pics of both! ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 

  • I like how it narrows at the bottom, like a Lamy or Visconti bottle. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Yotizo

    I'm literally drooling…ย 

  • The 105 is a favorite of mine. Pens photos are tough due to size, shape and reflections. You're doing great and I can't wait to see what you have planned!

  • haha, yes indeed….except that you'd never be able to get your pen to the bottom because it's about 5" tall!

  • ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Thank you! Pens are tough indeed, it's been quite a learning curve for me. Small, round, shiny objects with a lot of detail, that's about as tough as it gets.ย 

  • Nice new lens Brian! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Thanks Gentian! You shoot some pretty detailed stuff over on your blog, what's your setup?

  • You will laugh but it is a Canon Elph P&S, the Powershot SD790IS. It does have a really decent macro for a tiny camera though! ๐Ÿ˜€ Lately I've been playing with my iphone camera a lot but I can't get as close up as with my Canon.ย 

  • Mark

    Thanks for posting this Brian!ย  This lens is next on my list to get. ย 

  • StevenHorvat

    Wow Brian, that is so cool I love gadgets and that camera lens is a sweet!ย 

  • Hey, whatever works! The iPhone has a decent camera on it (in fact, I used my 4s to shoot the picture of my Nikon in this post!).

  • I highly recommend it, it's a pretty amazing lens, especially if you want to shoot macro without having to be RIGHT up on what you're shooting. It's a little tough to shoot handheld unless there's good light, but shooting outdoors works great. I'm looking into a speedlight or a ring light to help with the handheld shooting…photography is a slippery slope!

  • Freddy

    Enjoy the new lens, Brian.ย  What I would look forward to are very detailed shots of demonstrator pens like a TWSBI Diamond 540 or a Lamy Vista.ย  What a great way to see the "innards" of the pen without the pen being taken apart.

    Your photography is as superb as your reviews.ย  You show and report it all, the good and the not so good.ย  Keep it up.

  • Great suggestion! Yes, I plan to show the finest of details, and explain why they might matter (or not!). Especially when it comes to showing the innards of pens, the macro will be helpful. I'm glad you like the way I do things! I will keep it up ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I know, right? I'm in love with it.

  • Doesn't it? I'm really impressed with the 4S camera.ย 

  • ronhockman

    You're shooting those handheld?ย  Very nice!

    I'd suggest a tripod be on your list.ย  Locking down the camera and doing manual focus will let you nail exactly the focus you want.

    The only danger is that you'll lose the flexibility of getting exactly the angle you want.

  • I can only concur. ย I spent some years photographing various types of art in the studio, and it can be a real bear. ย Jewelry and gloss finish pottery were always the worst. ย If you don't have one, I'd suggest acquiring a polarizing filter for the lens and your lights. ย They'll give you very fine control over reflections and highlights in your shots.ย 

  • Congrats on the lens!

    I have the equivalent Canon, almost the same specs, 100mm f/2.8 but unfortunately mine is the older version and doesn't have image stabilization but boy is it a great lens. Too bad I don't get the chance to use it too often. I prefer to shoot my pen photos with my G11 which is much easier to set up and operate than the big SLR.

  • David

    You're already on the edge of too slow for hand-held shots. More light is my suggestion, or maybe you're getting a rosy tan and melting pens already? Flashes really help this, DOF thing, but they're harder to compose around.

  • Oh goodness no, these are shot on a tripod. Because this lens has VR and IF, it certainly is one of the best macro lenses for handheld shooting, but that's not what I was doing here. And you're right, I definitely lose some flexibility with the tripod, it takes a while to set up each shot. But what I lack in flexibility, I make up for in clarity ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

  • Thanks! I'm actually toying with the idea of switching over to Canon for other various reasons, and that 100mm lens is pretty darn close to this one (though as a member of the Nikon camp, I will just go ahead and say this Nikkor is better than the Canon, is that cool?). Yeah, the SRL doesn't go with me everywhere I go, I actually do all my spontaneous pictures and videos (Facebook quality stuff, y'know) on my iPhone. But when I need the quality, I have this in my arsenal! Thankfully, I work in a business where I get to play with my camera just about every day ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

  • Why would you want to switch to Canon? IMO, Canon and Nikon are almost identical in capabilities. Maybe Canon has a wider range of lenses but Nikon has plenty. Problem is that once you start buying expensive lenses (like your 105mm ๐Ÿ™‚ it becomes more and more expensive to switch. On the other hand, Nikon lenses are generally more expensive but I've heard they also have better image quality. So I don't know… Myself I'm locked into Canon because I have 5 good quality lenses.

  • Marc Bloom

    Consider a focussing rail. It mounts between the camera and tripod and lets you shift the camera back and forth without moving the tripod.

  • Nicky

    Absolutely beautiful! The pen's nice, too.

  • Bogiesan

    Be sure to see the Nikon D800 before you consider investing in an entirely new system.

  • Oh, I'm well aware of the D800!! It's very appealing, except that it's already pre-sold out everywhere…The one thing that Canon offers over Nikon is the software/tethering ability. NIkon's firmware is different for every model of camera, whereas Canon's is identical for all of the models. That means that there are a lot more software options for Canon cameras than for Nikons. The D800 actually has everything I want, except I don't know about the firmware and its compatibility with the programs I use/want to use in the future. Trust me, I'm bouncing back and forth every day!

  • Oh, I definitely am, no question about that. I actually need to upgrade my whole tripod setup anyway, the one I have is cheap and can't reliably support this beefy lens! Here I go, further down the rabbit hole….

  • See, that's my conundrum. I love Nikon, and their lenses are amazing. The ONLY reason I'm looking to switch to Canon is because they have firmware in their cameras that's easier to tether to different pieces of software that I'm looking into, the Nikon is kind of a crapshoot with each model of camera because they have different firmware for each model. I'm actually very happy with everything about Nikon except their firmware….and I don't know if that's enough to justify a switch since I'm already pretty invested into lenses, and I am looking to get many more.ย 

  • I'm already rocking 4 CF 100-watt bulbs, which is a pretty good amount of light for a 24"x24" light tent. I can always go more though, but I'm already having epic battles with glare! Round shiny things are always tough, pens are especially challenging to get good detailed pictures, sometimes. I might spend an hour just getting a couple of decent shots of one pen. I've considered getting flashes, but the thing I really like about continuous lighting is that I know what glare to expect when I set the pens in place, something that's really important because I'm constantly having to be aware of glare with every time I move the pen.ย 

  • You betcha! I'm having a blast learning everything I can about how to take better pen pictures.

  • That's a great suggestion, thank you! I haven't ventured into any filters yet, that's a new avenue for me to go down ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 

  • I love it. I use my DSLR for all my nice product pictures and important family events, my nice camera for recording my blog videos, but honestly the 4s does most of my shooting (both video and pictures) because it's always on me! With two really young kids, they'll do something cute and 4 seconds later, stop doing it. The best thing about a great camera in your pocket is that (whatever the quality) you can get the shot ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 

  • Bogiesan

    Ah, you know what you are tlking about! So many simply do not.
    I do not shoot tethered very often with my Nikon D3 but Lightroom on my Maicntosh seems to have all the functions I need. But that's jsut me and 95% of my work is outside the studio.
    Have fun shopping and, I'm sure you already know better, try not to make this decision based on emotion.

  • D3, nice! You're not messing around there ๐Ÿ˜‰ I was using L3, but had to switch to Aperture because L3 wouldn't tether a d3100 at all, Aperture does. Now I guess I'm just so used to Aperture that it's not worth my switching back. It will be interesting to see what Lightroom 4 has though. I'm pretty much the opposite of you, I do about 95% of my shooting in my studio, the only time I'm not is when I'm taking pictures of my kids ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

    I've actually already made the switch to Canon now, I'll be blogging about that soon. It was somewhat an emotional decision, but it was more emotional because I just didn't want to leave Nikon! That probably made me even more skeptical about switching to Canon, but in the end, Canon just has a slight edge in a lot of different areas for what I am trying to accomplish. t just picked up a T2i for now, I'll be getting the 5D Mark 3 later this month, I'm pretty excited about it. The T2i definitely has some things I like over the d3100, and for my fairly specific needs will serve me better. I do miss the shutter sound from Nikon though, Canon's sounds too 'electronic' for me! C'est la vie…

  • Jones

    This looks great. I want to buy such an objective as well. At which distance have you took those photos (approximately)?
    Greetings from Switzerland

  • The 100mm range gives me the perfect working distance for tabletop shooting, I do most of my macrophotography from about 10-12 inches away (300mm or so).