First let's look at the oh so
"bokeh" wide open (the 105 f/2.5 at both f/2.5 and f/4 to be fair)
Orange text for Halloween tomorrow. Click on the image to see them all
side by side.
To my eyes, even at f/4 the
AIS does a better job with the basketball net and the 75-150mm f/3.5
comes in second, but it's a very subjective thing. By f/5.6 they
A quick look
sharpness near wide open, f/4 is so close to f/3.5 we'll just
are all pretty close, but the results are the opposite of what I would
have expected, the 75-150mm has the least purple fringing and best
detail at f/4.
the 105mm is pulling away while the 50-150mm remains behind, and this
stays true down to f/8. All the lenses keep improving with the 105mm
sharp edge to edge, the 75-150mm showing just a trace of corner
softness and this copy of the 50-135mm still soft in the extreme
Full resolution raw files: 105mm
Not all is equal at different
distances, so here is a little bit of infinity focusing. I threw in the
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 VC to see just what $1,500 and forty years of
technology get you outside of weight, af and image stabilization. 100%
crops and 100%
at f/4. By the time we
get to f/8 we're splitting hairs. Remember that saying f/8
there? If a lens isn't performing by now it's a true dog.
In the end they all have their
The 105mm f/2.5 AIS is the best tool for portraits, no surprise there.
Stopped down it doesn't gain a whole lot over the Nikon Series E
75-150mm f/3.5, which has a few issues. The filter ring rotates when
focusing making it a pain to use with polarizing filters, and on an
APS-C sized sensor it's not in that perfect portrait range anymore, but
it's the cheapest of the bunch.
The surprise is that the heaviest and once most expensive Nikkor
50-150mm f/3.5 is the lowest performing of the three. On the upside the
filter ring doesn't
rotate while focusing and on an APS-C sensor it makes a very nice
70-200mm equivalent, where the corners are no longer in play either.