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A recently released Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED doesn't have VR. It surprises me a lot. I understand that there is little interest in having VR/IS in fast 35mm or 50mm lenses, but here, we are talking about a telephoto lens; while it's very fast, it won't necessarily be used at ƒ/1.4 all the time.

Looking at the list of prime Nikkor lenses, I notice that below 200mm, the only professional lens which has VR is a AF-S VR Micro 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED. The other VR lens, which is for cropped sensor SLRs only, is a macro lens too: AF-S DX Micro 85mm f/3.5G ED VR.

What would be the reason to not include VR/IS in a $2 000 telephoto lens?

My theory is that those professional lenses are made to be extremely reliable and durable in order to be used for decades. VR/IS is probably not mature enough to be that reliable and durable. Is this the reason?

  • Cost. You don't know the production trade-offs. Maybe adding VR to a $2.000 lens would bump up the price to $3.000. Only the companies themselves can answer your question. – kazanaki Oct 25 '16 at 11:31
  • @kazanaki: so VR mechanism is that different from lens to lens? I thought VR mechanism from, say, the new 70-200mm could be reused virtually without any changes for, say, a 105mm prime. – Arseni Mourzenko Oct 25 '16 at 11:42
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"VR/IS is probably not mature enough to be that reliable and durable. Is this the reason?" No. If that was true, they wouldn't put it in any lens used for decades. All the telephoto prime lenses come in variants with VR/IS.

VR/IS likely adds weight, size and cost. For this particular lens, Nikon decided it's not a trade-off they want to make.

I thought VR mechanism from, say, the new 70-200mm could be reused virtually without any changes for, say, a 105mm prime.

I'm not a lens designer, so this is pure speculation: I doubt that you can as easily adopt that VR/IS system. One reason being that it's prime lens vs. zoom lens and the other that it's f/1.4.

it won't necessarily be used at ƒ/1.4 all the time.

That's true. But the VR/IS system likely still has to move the same amount of glass around, no matter what the aperture is set to. If you have to push your car, opening the windows won't help much. From an engineering standpoint, you cannot make a trade-off here, because reducing the aperture merely closes the aperture blades, which gives no advantage in mass. (again, no lens designer, just assuming that moving mass around is the primary job of a VR/IS system)

There's also one thing that VR/IS definitely adds: vibration reduction/image stabilisation. Nikon does not only sell this lens. If they add VR/IS to this one it might be too much of a competition for other products in their lineup, with an added tele converter for example.

With all things considered, Nikon decided to make the lens the way they did. The premise that this decision has to line up with your own expectations and market observations does not necessarily hold.

  • I love the car analogy. It is laughably ridiculous and completely correct. – Dan Wolfgang Oct 25 '16 at 15:32
  • One other point, the 24-70/2.8 G lens from Nikon is an update on their 24-70/2.8 zoom lens that is less sharp than their older version or so DxOMarks suggests. Similarly the Nikon 300/4 FL lens from what my friends have told me isn't great with VR/IS on. So it's worth nothing that adding VR/IS may degrade the image quality of a lens and is another factor lens designers need to consider. – unsignedzero Oct 25 '16 at 17:50

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