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Nikon’s new portrait lens combines features that make it a first of its kind

Nikon has added the AF-S 105mm f/1.4E to its full-frame lens lineup. The medium-telephoto portrait lens combines the flattering compression of the 105mm focal length with the extremely shallow depth of field of an f/1.4 aperture. It is the first lens ever made to combine these two features. It’s also an excellent way to celebrate the production of Nikon’s 100-millionth Nikkor lens, a milestone the company reached earlier this month.

“The AF-S Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E ED represents the embodiment of the Nikkor line of high-quality lenses, giving photographers a robust, well-balanced lens that provides intense sharpness, astounding image quality, and background bokeh that is sure to be a favorite among portrait photographers,” Kosuke Kawaura, Nikon director of marketing and planning, said in a statement.

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Nikon is squarely targeting professional and advanced enthusiast users with this lens, which promises high resolving power at all apertures to get the most out of Nikon’s full-frame cameras, like the 36-megapixel D810. Beyond objective quality, the lens is also designed to achieve subjectively pleasing images, rendering subjects in a pleasing way with a little extra “pop.”

Complementing this is a nine-bladed aperture diaphragm for circular blur patterns, as is standard among Nikon’s higher-end lenses. It also uses a new electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism for more accurate exposures even in burst shooting, a technology that Nikon has been rolling out with new lenses over the past year or so.

As well as providing a shallow depth of field, the fast aperture brings excellent low-light performance. This makes the 105mm f/1.4E a good choice for wedding and event photographers who often find themselves in dark, indoor environments where flash may not be permitted. Like Nikon’s other pro glass, it is also sealed against dust and moisture, making it suitable for use in nearly any outdoor environment.

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Given the fast aperture, Nikon chose to leave out vibration reduction, a move that shouldn’t be surprising given that no other f/1.4 lens in the “Gold Ring” series includes it. The lens is also physically wider than previous models of the same focal length, necessitating a move to 82mm screw-in filters.

While it’s sure to generate a high level of interest, making a world-first lens of this caliber doesn’t come cheap. Interested photographers can expect to pay $2,200 for it when it ships in late August. That may seem like a lot for a prime lens, but clearly Nikon knows it has something special here.