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Nikon 105 mm micro vs. 18-105mm on the zoom

Discussion in 'The Nikon Niche' started by Jay_Fish, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. Jay_Fish

    Jay_Fish Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Vacaville-California
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    Has anyone used or experienced using both lenses? And are there differences on picture quality? I have a nikon d300 with a 18-105 lens and wondering if I should get the prime micro lens to take macro pictures.
    Thanks.
    Jay
     
    lynch likes this.
  2. PatW

    PatW Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Central Florida
    1,087
    297
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    These are very different lenses which generally are used for very different needs.

    The 18-105 zoom is a lens that is supposed to be a sort of do everything lens. It ranges from a wide angle to a short telephoto. The problem with do everything lenses is they don't do anything really, really well. On the wide angle side, these lenses have more distortion than a wide angle lens. Also these lenses are slower (higher minimum F stop) than dedicated "prime" or fixed focal length lenses. Now, don't get me wrong, one can get good results from these lenses especially if you stop them down to about F 8.

    The Nikon 105 micro is a whole different story. It is designed to focus an image on your sensor that is 1 to 1. That means the image on the sensor is life size. The 18-105 can only do an image that is 1.5 times the life size on the sensor. Also, the optics on the 105 micro is superior to the 18-105 zoom. Another advantage of the 105 is that it is a reasonably fast lens with a 2.8 minimum apeture and it gives good results wide open. Also the 105 micro is optically an excellent lens. It far exceeds the 18-105 zoom in this regard.

    As they say on the cable TV commercials, WAIT! THE IS MORE! In shooting underwater, you need to use a port. The Nikon 105 can be used with a reasonably compact port with a flat surface. No the 18-105 has a minimum focus distance of 18". It requires a filter with diopters and a great big dome for shooting underwater. I don't know of anyone who uses this lens underwater. Most people use the 60 mm micro, the 105 micro, or a very wide angle zoom. The only zoom that I know that is considered very useful is the Sigma Macro 17-70 and even that requires an 8" dome.

    Now if you are just running around on the surface taking photos, the situation is very different. The Nikon 105 micro is a specialized lens that mainly makes sense when you are taking photos of flowers, insects and other small objects. It can be pressed into service as a short telephoto. The 18-105 zoom can be a very good all around lens for surface applications if you don't want the fuss and bother of lugging around a pile of lenses and you want to take photos in a variety of circumstances.

    Both lenses have their place. The 105 micro does what it does very well. But it is a pretty specialized lens. It does not make sense having one unless you want to take serious close up photos. The 18-105 zoom is a very versatile lens that can give good results in a wide variety of applications. If you require very high optical performance, you are not going to get it. But hey, it is versatile and inexpensive. For many photographers, it is as much lens as they really ever need.
     
  3. Jay_Fish

    Jay_Fish Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Vacaville-California
    45
    5
    8
    Hi Pat,

    Thank you for providing such a comprehensive explanation. Now I know why there is a big price difference between the prime micro lens and the zoom lens.
     
  4. Chuck Tribolet

    Chuck Tribolet Loggerhead Turtle Rest in Peace

    2,910
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    The Tokina 10-17 is VERY popular underwater.

    I would choose the 60mm macro over the 105mm for underwater. I have both. Adm Linda has both. We both shoot the 60m US. The 105 has it's place (spooky subjects in clear water), but the 60mm will generally be more useful.


    Chuck
     
  5. divengolf

    divengolf Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
    579
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    I agree with Chuck. I use my 60 mm AF-S most of the time as well. If you really need a 105, you can pick up a used AF version for less than half of the cost of the AF-S model.

    Also consider using a wet diopter (e.g. SubSee 5X or 10X) with your 60mm. That will give you the option to increase the image size as needed UW, but can be removed and stored on your rig when not in use, or just flipped away from your port, dependoing on the housing that you're using. The only downside to the wet diopter is that the DOF is real small and your bouyancy has to be spot on to focus.

    Cheaper than going the 105 mm route, esp. if you're looking at the AF-S version.
     
  6. weeksd

    weeksd Barracuda

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    The nikon 105 lens on all the housing i have seen use a flat port which increases the magnification so subject becomes bigger. The nikon 18-105 uses a dome port on the housings i have seen which does decrease magnification. I use the nikon 16-85mm lens in an aquatica housing with a 6inch dome port which works good. For macro i add a +4 diopter to get 1:1 macro. Works quite well as i only need to carry the 6inch domeport on travels. Instead of a domeport and flat port. But the nikon 105 in a flat port is still the highest quality. But for travel i carry one port only. Here is my website so you can see samples. The only shots i have the +4 diopter is when i shoot pygmy seahorse. All the other shots are the 16-85mm lens so your 18-105mm lens would be similar. As you can see the zoom lens is pretty versatile as i can shoot mild wide angle to 1:2 macro on the same dive. reefscenics' Photos | SmugMug
     
  7. Jay_Fish

    Jay_Fish Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Vacaville-California
    45
    5
    8
    I am gonna be using ikelite housing and ikelite has a flat port for the 18-105 lens. I understand that I won,t be able to zoom in much without getting some vignetting due to the long barrel of the port.
    Nice pictures you have overthere. By adding a +4 diopter to your 60mm, did you experience a slower auto focus? I am tempted to get the 60mm and its port.

     
  8. Fota

    Fota Nassau Grouper

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    I'd say it's the other way around. You can zoom in all the way (as long the lens fits the port) but you can probably not zoom out very far. Zooming out will give you "vinjetting" / dark corners.
     
  9. weeksd

    weeksd Barracuda

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    Hi- I am looking at ikelite port chart and no flat port is on the chart for the 18-105 lens. A six inch and 8 inch domes are on chart.
    18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX

    [TABLE="class: FloatTitle, width: 95%"]
    [TR]
    [TD="align: left"][​IMG]Modular - 8" Dome
    Requires:
    — 5510.45 dome assembly
    — 5510.28 port body
    — 5509.18 zoom sleeve
    — +4 close-up lens
    [​IMG]
    $$$$
    Read More...
    [/TD]
    [TD="align: left"][​IMG]Standard - 6" Dome
    Requires:
    — 5503.82 port
    — +4 close-up lens
    [​IMG]
    $$
    Read more...
    [/TD]
    [/TR]
    [/TABLE]
     
  10. BluewaterPhoto

    BluewaterPhoto Bluewater Photo & Travel ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Culver City, CA
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    hi Jay

    Like others have said, they are very different lenses. The 105mm is one of my favorite lenses to use underwater, and is the vastly superior lens imho. I personally wouldn't take the 18-105mm underwater. Good luck! - Scott
     

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