Additional Information on Nikkor 105mm f/2.5s Telephoto Lens

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During the fifties, the 35mm rangefinder camera market was dominating by the German products. Naturally, German lenses such as Leitz and Zeiss were premium brand names in the market place. Japanese optic was, via help of western media finally managed to open an entirely new market place for their optical products.

Series of events that followed have enabled Nippon Kokagu to showcase their optical excellence via a few camera and optic. One of many lenses that has helped Nikon to stamp a strong footing and actually caught the media attention was the 105mm lens. The original Nikkor-P 10.5cm f/2.5, designed by WAKIMOTO, Zenji and introduced in late 1953 was a Sonnar type of design where 5 elements was arranged in 3 groups and was used extensively during the rangefinder camera days. The Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 was also one of the first batch of 35mm SLR lenses which debuted with the reflex Nikon F in 1959. The lens was redesigned in 1971 as Nikkor-Auto 105mm f/2.5 by another renown Nikon optical engineer, SHIMIZU, Yoshiyuki, where the classic 5 elements in 4 group optical design was used. The lens has breezed through many decades along with the rapid development of Nikkor lenses and Nikon SLR cameras. Except for cosmetic changes, revised "NIC" lens coating process and upgraded for newer metering compatibility with Nikon SLRs, the optical arrangement of the lens was virtually remained unchanged until today since its inception which easily tells how good that design is.

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The lens is widely regarded as one of the many Nikkor classic. Combining elements of an outstanding, faithful optical performance and a top quality lens body construction, making it an immensely popular telephoto lens among Nikon users. Further, the lens is also one of the most affordable optic among Nikkor telephoto lenses. New generation of 35mm SLR photographers who are so used to convenience of zoom lenses provide today have possibly ignored existence of such fine prime optic around in the Nikkor lens family. Fortunately, there is still a steady supply of used 105mm lenses in the market and I do hope this site can inspire a revival of interest of this great Nikkor telephoto lens.

: Image of the Nikkor 105mm f/2.5s wideangle lens displayed in this site courtesy of Mr. Henry Mendez® <> copyright © 2003.

Technical Highlights: The standard portrait lens * Picture coverage of 23°20' is ideal for head-and-shoulder kind of candids and portraits. * Relatively large maximum aperture of f/2.5 is convenient for pinpoint focusing and shooting in available light when used with modern fine grained high speed film. * Built-in lens hood and light weight come in handy in travel photography and photojournalism. * Focuses down to lm (3.5 ft.). *Light, compact and uses standard 52mm filters with great system compatibility.

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The 1953's rangefinder version.

The AI-S version of the early '80.

Although its optical formula was literally remained unchanged for most of the time since its inception back to early days of reflex Nikon SLR. There are quite a few versions do exist which could easily differentiate by their forms, exterior design, features and even color of lens coating to help verifying roughly their respective years of production.
Copyright-free images collection
© 2001 

For an instance, before the Ai-S version of this lens was released in 1981 to replace the earlier AI-spec lens, the Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 was supplied with a dedicated metal lens hood (HS-8) which can be reversed mount on the lens and stored before the cap can be put on. The AI-S version has a built-in retractable lens hood and solved the trouble of always have to attend to frequent lens hood changing and safekeeping. However, it is still a personal preference, some users are still preferred having an older lens hood design because the extension of the built in hood on the AI-S lens is indeed very short in its extension. Strangely, I remember the Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8s I bought at later stage was supplied with the same metal HS-8 lens hood. Another interesting aspect for this lens is, although the AI-S lens has a noticeable difference of being more compact in size and has a built in lens hood design, the weight of both versions remain identically at 435g !

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Because it may not be too often for anyone to use a lens hood all the time. The built in retractable lens hood for the AI-S lens is indeed a welcome feature. Older versions of the 105mm f/2.5 lenses has a metal lens hood HS-8 which can be reversibly mounted comes as a standard accessory. Not just applying to this Ai-S version alone, in fact all manual focus Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 lenses have a very well defined and illustrated depth of field scales engraved besides the aperture and distance index on its aperture ring and lens mounting ring.

free images collection © 2001 

The Ai-S lens is colored coded at its minimum aperture of f/22 in orange which also serves as a reminder for Nikon program and shutter priority AE SLR models (Nikon FG, FA, F301 & F501 etc.) to lock the aperture to its minimum aperture during such operations. The ADR scales on aperture ring permits information for aperture value transfers to the viewfinder with any Ai-spec Nikon SLR camera bodies

Is the Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 an ultimate lens for portraiture ? Not quite. If you do a lot of half body length portraiture or head and shoulder kind of shots, this lens can be more versatile than the 135 or even the 200mm as the working distance is quite adequate - However, if your photography demands more than just head and shoulder like frame filling head shots, or at another extreme, working at full length portraits, the 105mm lens here may exhibits its weakness. Other Nikkor telephoto such as the 135mm or the 180mm f/2.8 assume to be a better choice. Next, its maximum aperture of f/2.5 is still falls short of a perfect lens for low available light photography. So, if your photography often demands working in indoor or low available light situation, the corresponding Nikkor 105mm f/1.8 lens offers a more generous scope on depth of field control along with a better handling of low available light photography.

All Nikkor lens comes with a "standard" packing of a golden box and the 105mm lens also has a similar package. I was told in order to "protect" the local interest of the US dealers, lenses sold to US market has a different packing in order to provide a visual differentiation between "imported" lenses from good that meant for US market. I hope there is no varying standard in terms of quality issue. Strange, why Nikon practice these kind of standards ?? It only reflects a message like: either we are being slaughter OR users in the US market suffer to pay for higher premium, huh >??

Anyway, as far as the f/2.5 version of the 105mm Nikkor lens is concerned, if you don't intend to spend much on a new MF lens, the available choices on varying old versions are still plenty and prices for such used lenses make it a logical to take a look at the used lens markets. As I think sometimes investment into lenses often take in sensible decision. Anyway, I don't think optical quality should be the factor for holding you back. I may be a little biased with all what I have experienced previously with these lenses, but I am sure many seasoned Nikon photographers will also acknowledge that this lens is, anytime a Nikkor classic.

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Regardless for portraiture, scenic/travel and/or simply for shooting pleasure, it can be a good all round usage telephoto lens.

free images collection © 2001 

Specifications for Nikkor 105mm f/2.5s (Applied for both Ai and Ai-S versions of the Nikkor 105mm f/2.5, for earlier versions referred to respective sites -late 70 or 60-70)

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Focal length/Aperture: 105mm f/2.5
Lens construction: 5 elements in 4 groups
Picture angle: 23° 20'
Diaphragm: Automatic
Maximum Reproduction ratio: 1:7.7
Aperture scale: f/2.5- f/22 on both standard and aperture-direct-readout scales
Exposure measurement: Via full aperture method with Ai cameras; via stop-down method with non-Ai cameras.
Distance scale: Graduated in meters and feet from from 1m (3 ft.) to infinity (oo)
Weight: 435g; Dimensions: 64mm dia. x 77.5mm long (overall); 39.5mm extension from lens flange
Filters: 52mm front screw-in; Front lens cap: Snap-On; Lens hood: Built-in telescopic type
Lens case: CL-32S hard leatherette, No.62 soft pouch, or CP-9 plastic
Usable teleconverter(s):
TC-200*, TC-201s*, TC-14A; * When used with aperture smaller than f/11 with fast shutter speeds, there is occasional uneven exposures. TC-200 may not be compatible with Nikon SLRs that provides addtional selective AE modes.NOTE: Serial Numbers of this version was believed to have been started with 890001 for this Ai-S version and 740001 for the Ai version.

<< --- An electrifying eyed Malaysian Beauty captured with a laser sharp lense... in studio. Image courtesy of Ng Weng Kong. Copyright © 2002. All rights reserved.

I have never being a very serious camera/lens collector all these while and neither I am a historian, but as I mentioned a couple of times in this site that some of my comments are solely based on personal experience as I did owned quite a few versions of this Nikkor lens. The lens coating of the Ai-S version of this lovely telephoto lens has a deep pinkish cast rather than greenish lens coating found on most early Ai versions sold during late 70' and early '80; the early non-AI lens has a amber or a slight brownish yellow tint lens coating on the front lens element in which, although it may not be absolute accurate to use it as reference, but other than using other physical identifications to aid your personal verification, you can always use this info as a quick visual reference guide.

Back to | Main Index Page | of Nikkor 105mm Lenses

MF Nikkor Lenses at 105mm focal length : Early non-Ai versions | Pre-Ai Versions | Ai Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 | Ai-S Nikkor 105mm f/2.5s | Nikkor 105mm f/4.0s UV | Nikkor 105mm f/1.8s Ai & Ai-S | Relative: Bellows-Nikkor 105mm f/4.0; Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4.0s; Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8s Bookmark the autofocus main index page for future uploads

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Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
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Tele-Converters: TC-1 | TC-2 | TC-200 | TC-201 | TC-300 | TC-301 | TC-14 | TC-14A | TC-14B | TC-14C | TC-14E | TC-16 | TC-16A | TC-20E

Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: my friend, Rick Oleson by: Hansen, Lars Holst

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leofoo.Gif Co-developed with my web buddy, Rick Oleson® & LARs.Gif Denmark, Creator of the Nikon Repair Group Mailing-List; A contributing effort to Michael Liu's Classic Nikon SLRs and Nikkor optic site.

Credit: MCLau®, who has helped to rewrite some of the content appeared this site. Chuck Hester® who has been helping me all along with the development of all these Nikon websites; Lars Holst Hansen, 'Hawkeye' who shares the same passion I have; Ms Rissa, Sales manager from Nikon Corporation Malaysia for granting permission to use some of the official content; Ted Wengelaar, Holland who has helped to provide many useful input relating to older Nikkor lenses; Some of the references on production serial numbers used in this site were extracted from Roland Vink's website; Hiura Shinsaku from Nikomat Club Japan. Lastly, to all the good people who has contributed their own expeience, resources or kind enough granted permission to use their images of their respective optic in this site. It is also a site to remember a long lost friend on the Net. Note:certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets & brochures published by Nikon and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their work for educational purposes. The creator of the site will not be responsible for may discrepancies arise from such dispute except rectifying them after verification. "Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Site made with an Apple IMac.