Photography - Nikon 105VR
I've heard so many great things about this lens - many internet forums are littered with posts about it... "It's a macro lens, with VR that can do double duties as a portrait lens, and is super sharp." So, when I had an opportunity to rent the lens for a weekend (for $25), and try it out, I couldn't pass it up.
There are no questions about the sharpness of this lens. Neither the 18-105VR, 70-300VR, nor the 35mm1.8 can touch this lens, in terms of sharpness. Razor sharp, would be the best way to describe it. This is a great thing for macro, but some may consider the lens "too sharp for portrait" - any imperfections on the subject will come through, and may need to be touched up in post.
Auto focus speed is good, but not as great as I was expecting. As the lighting gets dimmer, I found the AF was hunting far more than I expected for a f/2.5 lens. With bright light, however, the focus speed is very fast (far better than the 18-105VR, 70-300VR, or the 35mm1.8). Not too sure what to say about the low light AF speed - might be a one-off issue, might be a actual characteristic of the lens, or you could chalk it up to an abused rental...
The variable aperture thing really threw me - the closer the subject is, the more the aperture goes up. You have to be quite far away from the subject to get to f/2.8. Otherwise, wide open is really more like f/3.5. Still, at 105mm, this is sufficient to isolate the subject in portraiture.
The 105VR is a stumpy lens, and is surprisingly heavy for it's size.
The Vibration Reduction works well, though you wouldn't use it too much on true macro work - the depth of field is so narrow, you really HAVE to use a tripod. On close-up work, however, VR will come in handy, just as it will also benefit portrait work.
Here are a few samples I have taken with this lens: