AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 G ED Lens

      Photo Review 9.5
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      In summary

      A compact macro lens with superb performance for 1:1 close-ups, copying work and general photography.The AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 G ED is the latest in a long line of macro lenses from Nikon. Capable of true 1:1 reproduction, it features internal focusing, which provides faster, smoother autofocusing and also eliminates barrel length changes. And, because the front element doesn’t rotate, users can fit angle-critical filters, such as polarisers. . . [more]

      Full review

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      The AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 G ED is the latest in a long line of macro lenses from Nikon. Capable of true 1:1 reproduction, it features internal focusing, which provides faster, smoother autofocusing and also eliminates barrel length changes. And, because the front element doesn’t rotate, users can fit angle-critical filters, such as polarisers.
      The new lens is constructed from 12 elements in 9 groups with one ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass element and two aspherical elements to minimise the chance of various lens aberrations. All elements are coated with either Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coat or Super Integrated Coating (SIC) to provide optimal colour reproduction and reduce the incidence of ghosting and flare.
      Designed primarily for close-up photography, the 60mm Micro Nikkor is optimised to provide a flat field and excellent edge-to-edge sharpness on both Nikon FX-format (23.9 x 36mm) and DX-format image sensors. Autofocusing is supported continuously from infinity to life-size (1:1 reproduction ratio). Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor (SWM) ensures accurate, fast and quiet autofocusing. VR stabilisation is not provided.
      The iris diaphragm has nine blades, which close to create a circular aperture and capture smooth defocused backgrounds with wide apertures. Build quality is typical of Nikkor lenses and well above average. Although the lens barrel is made mostly of polycarbonate – and so is the filter thread – a stainless steel mounting plate is provided for durability.

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      The focusing ring is broad and rubber-coated with narrow ridging to improve grip. A distance window is provided with values in metres and feet, ranging from 0.185 metres (1 foot) to infinity. Aperture settings range from f/2.8 to f/32 in 1/3 EV increments.
      A slider on the side panel has two positions, M/A and M, the M/A indicating the focusing ring can be used for manual focusing without having to switch out of autofocus mode. The new lens is supplied with a front and rear lens caps, a cylindrical HB-42 Bayonet hood and a CL-1018 flexible lens pouch.

      Handling
      Despite its relatively light weight, the 60mm Micro Nikkor was nicely balanced on the D700 body we used for our tests and a good match for its size. Moving through the focus range required approximately half a turn, which provides excellent scope for accurate manual focusing.
      Interestingly, the focal length is reduced as you move closer to the subject, largely as a result of the internal focusing design. Free working distance between the front of the lens and the subject reduces to 5 cm at the focusing limit for 1:1 reproduction, which means you can’t use the lens hood for these shots.
      The lens hood was easy to fit and remove and it was simple to switch between auto and manual focusing when critical focusing was required. The D700’s bright viewfinder and live view capabilities made manual focusing and framing very straightforward.
      We have some reservations about the plastic filter thread but filters were easy to fit and remove and showed no tendency to cross-thread or stick.
      The main difficulties we experienced when using this lens for close-up work revolved around selecting the correct plane of focus. Even at apertures between f/5 and f/8, depth of field can be so narrow as to make choosing the correct focusing point difficult, as shown in the example below.

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      D700-1-25atF5-DSC_0430

      Where should you focus – on the eyes or the tip of the nose? Either way, one critical subject element will be out-of-focus. Camera-to-subject distance at 6.5 cm, 1/25 second at f/5.0.

      Performance
      Autofocusing was fast and accurate in adequate lighting but hunting was common in very low light levels. As you would expect in a lens of this type, geometric distortion was negligible and the lens showed excellent flatness of field. Vignetting (edge darkening) was negligible at all apertures.
      Imatest showed this lens to be a first-rate performer with very little edge softening throughout the aperture range. We recorded the highest resolution figures to date with an FX sensor with this lens, which produced a centre resolution of 2634 lines/pixel height at f/9 with an edge resolution of 2418 lines/pixel height.
      Resolution was generally above average from f/2.8 to f/16 and tailed off gradually thereafter. It remained acceptable up to f/22 with the D700 but by f/32 it failed to capitalize on the D700’s performance. The results of our Imatest tests on TIFF image files (obtained by converting NEF.RAW files in Adobe Camera Raw) are shown in the graph below.

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      AFS_MC_60_ED_Res-vs-FL-graph

      Lateral chromatic aberration ranged between 0.004% and 0.008% of distance to corner throughout our Imatest tests, which is well below the 0.040% boundary between ‘negligible’ and ‘low’. This consistency is very impressive and further confirms the lens’s superior performance. We found no evidence of coloured fringing in test shots.
      Bokeh was particularly attractive, with soft out-of-focus elements and gentle transitions. Thanks to the sophisticated coating technologies, we found little evidence of flare in backlit shots and colours were accurately recorded. Image contrast remained high right up to f/18 with only a slight deterioration thereafter.

      IMATEST GRAPHS

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      SAMPLE IMAGES

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      D700-1-1250atF3.3-DSC_0360

      1/1250 second at f/3.3.

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      D700-1-3200atF3.5-DSC_0304

      1/3200 second at f/3.5.

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      D700-1-640atF8-DSC_0307

      1/640 second at f/8.

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      D700-1-80atF5-DSC_0419

      1/80 second at f/5.

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      D700-20ATf4-DSC_0533

      1/20 second at f/4.

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      D700-320atF9-DSC_0540

      1/320 at f/9.

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      D700-1-1250atF3.2-DSC_0363

      1/1250 second at f/3.2.

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      D700-1-60atF16-DSC_0368

      1/60 second at f/16.

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      D700-1-2000atF4.5-DSC_0358

      1/2000 second at f/4.5.

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      D700-1-125atF8-DSC_0426

      1/125 second at f/8.

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      D700-1-4000atF3.2-DSC_0311

      1/4000 second at f/3.2.

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      D700-1-200atF3.5-DSC_0453

      1/200 second at f/3.5.

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      D700-1-250atF8-DSC_0371

      1/250 second at f/8.

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      D700-1-5000atF3.2-DSC_0364

      1/5000 second at f/3.2.

       

      Specifications

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      Picture angle: 39 degrees 40 minutes
      Maximum aperture: f/2.8
      Minimum aperture: f/32
      Lens construction: 12 elements in 9 groups with 1 ED element
      Lens mount: Nikon F-Bayonet
      Diaphragm Blades: 9
      Minimum focus: 18.5 cm
      Maximum reproduction ratio: 1:1
      Filter size: 62mm
      Dimensions (Diameter x L): 73 x 89 mm
      Weight: 425 grams

       

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      Rating

       

      RRP: $929

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 9.5
      • Handling: 9.5
      • Image quality: 9.5
      • Versatility: 9.0
      • OVERALL: 9.5

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