See Nikon’s 105mm f/1.4 go head to head against the 200mm f/2

Mar 3, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

See Nikon’s 105mm f/1.4 go head to head against the 200mm f/2

Mar 3, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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When Nikon announced its new 105mm f/1.4E ED lens last year, it got a lot of attention. And it’s easy to see why. 105mm is an ideal portrait focal length for many photographers, and personally it’s where I find I spend the most time for portraits, too. One photographer who was particularly interested in checking it out was Texas based portrait shooter Keydrin Franklin.

Keydrin is a big fan of long lenses on location for full length portraits. His go-to lens for the past couple of years has been the Nikon 200mm f/2G ED VRII. But, this is a heavy beast and you have to get pretty far back to get the shot. Having now used the 105mm f/1.4 for a while, he put together a video during a shoot with some comparison photos to offer up his thoughts.

YouTube video

The obvious big difference between the two is the size. The 105mm f/1.4 weighs a whopping 985g (2.17lbs). But this is still tiny in comparison to the 2.93kg (6.46lb) monster that is the 200mm f/2. The price is similarly affected. As well as being almost three times the weight, it’s also nearly three times the price.

One of the reasons Keydrin notes in the video for purchasing the 105mm is that of engagement. With the 200mm you’re a good distance away from you subject. It’s difficult to direct at a distance without yelling. Moves and poses have to be rehearsed, and then performed again when photographer and subject are a suitable distance apart.

105mm is still quite long, but it allows him to get much closer to his subject. It allows a good level of interaction with his subject. The f/1.4 aperture allows him to get a somewhat similar look to the images, too.

In the above pair of images, the 105mm is the “before” and the 200mm is the “after”. Obviously, with the 100mm lens, Keydrin’s closer to his subject, with a wider field of view. So the composition is slightly different, we see more of the background for similar framing on the subject. But the look of the images is quite consistent between the two. Here, again, the 105mm is the “before” and the 200mm is the “after”.

The narrower field of view of the 200mm f/2 definitely still has its advantages. But, then you are standing further away. Ultimately, both lenses can produce some pretty amazing images. And for what they cost, you’d hope so, too. But is the 200mm f/2 really worth almost three times the price of the 105mm f/1.4?

Well, that’s really going to boil down to the individual. For Keydrin, it’s worth it. He says the 105mm f/1.4 is about as close as he’s seen a lens come to the style and quality of the 200mm f/2. If you don’t have almost 6 grand to spend, then he believes the 105mm f/1.4 will be a very worth worthwhile investment.

Even having used the 200mm f/2 for the past couple of years, Keydrin still really likes the 105mm f/1.4. It gives him a look and style similar to that which made the 200mm f/2 so special to him in the first place. But he can get it without having to yell at his subjects from a great distance.

Keydrin provided us a few shot with both the 105mm f/1.4 and the 200mm f/2 lenses. Can you tell which was shot with which lens? (answers down at the bottom).

#1
#2
#3
#4
#5

You might notice a couple of familiar faces in those photos above. #3 is Manny Ortiz, and #5 is Francisco Hernandez. Both photographers we’ve featured here on DIYP before.

Keydrin’s final advice as to whether you should invest in either of these lens is to go rent them and try them out first hand. You can see all the online specs and sample images that you like. But, if you don’t actually go out and try it for yourself, you’ll never really know.

1. 105mm f/1.4E,  2. 200mm f/2G, 3. 105mm f/1.4E, 4. 105mm f/1.4E, 5. 200mm f/2G

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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12 responses to “See Nikon’s 105mm f/1.4 go head to head against the 200mm f/2”

  1. stewart norton Avatar
    stewart norton

    Overall i think i prefer the 105…but man that shot #5 is sweeet!

  2. David Hovie Avatar
    David Hovie

    They are very similar to my 135mm 1.8

    1. Mark Harris Avatar
      Mark Harris

      not at all

  3. Steve Holt Avatar
    Steve Holt

    Love that 200mm bokeh! Someday you will be mine. Oh yes.

    1. президент Putin Avatar
      президент Putin

      I will gift it to you on my 40th birthday! (im 27 yo)

  4. Calvin Avatar
    Calvin

    Prefer the 105, as it flattens the face less.

  5. Denis Germain Avatar
    Denis Germain

    No need to compare: one of them is a 200mm – the other one is not!

  6. Ryan Malone Avatar
    Ryan Malone

    Was this bring your kid to work week?

  7. Brian Menin Avatar
    Brian Menin

    I shoot Canon, so I will never own either of these lenses, but definitely prefer the look of images shot with the 105.

    Shooting full length with a 200mm lens is such a bad idea anyway. Besides having to yell, you lose that connection with your subject.

    1. Gabriel Avatar
      Gabriel

      ridiculous statement.

  8. Vaughn S. Doyle Avatar
    Vaughn S. Doyle

    Bokeh looks similar but what i love is the compression on the 200mm. i’d like to se a full body portrait at 1200mm f22. That’d be interesting.

  9. William Cole Avatar
    William Cole

    I have both lenses — the VR1 version of the 200MM f2 and I bought the 105MM 1.4 when it came out. Both are sensational portraits lenses. In my area of focus, I do a lot of candid portraits and the 200 gives me both the reach and bokeh that I value in those situations. For standard portraits, I usually pull out the 105. It’s just an easier lens to use. Frankly they are both terrific. But there is something about the compression and bokeh on the 200 that puts it in another league. The background colors “melt” together unlike any other lens I’ve used. Whether or not that’s worth an extra $4000 (new) — well that’s an individual decision,