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CONCLUSION: Some users have griped to us about the lens' inability to deliver its four stops of VR sharpness at close-focus. But in our opinion, that's a moot point. We can almost guarantee that 95 percent of users shooting at 1:2 and closer will be working from a tripod, obviating the need for VR. If you're not on a tripod, you'd better have plenty of aspirin on hand, because staring at that hugely magnified viewfinder image as it swings wildly in and out of focus with every breath you take is bound to be migraine-inducing.
This VR system is designed primarily for the nonmacro portrait range, because that's where it's most valuable. Don't want VR in your macro lens? Nikon's 105mm or 60mm f/2.8 non-VR Micro-Nikkor lenses are a more affordable alternative. For our money, however, the VR is worth the extra $170 over the cost of the 105mm, even if it doesn't extend completely to 1:1.
READY FOR ITS CLOSE-UP: Unlike many 1:1 macros, this one is internal-focusing, so its outer barrel doesn't move as the lens extends into the macro range. This suits it to lensmounted lights for floral close-ups.
SPECIFICATIONS: 105mm (103.24mm tested), f/2.8 (f/2.87 tested), 14 elements in 12 groups. Focusing turns 230 degrees clockwise. Diagonal view angle: 23 degrees. Weight: 1.81 lbs. n Filter size: 62mm. Mount: Nikon AF. Included: Lenshood, softcase. Street price: $830.
• Virtually no distortion.
• Vibration Reduction highly effective through most of the focusing range.
• VR is less effective in macro and doesn't work on older film cameras (F4, Pronea, etc.).