The lens moves quietly enough while focusing, not quite as silently as Sigma's new 105mm EX DG OS HSM macro lens, but not far behind it either. More importantly, it focuses swiftly and comfortably to the standard expected from its price tag. When hunting against low-contrast detail, it quickly runs back and forth until focus is found, and when it's found it's confirmed without hesitation.
This will, of course, vary between different camera bodies, because higher end DSLRs will be equipped with superior focusing systems to those further down in the range.
Because the lens isn't particularly small, it's a pity that its focusing window should be. The three lines of information – distance in metres, feet and magnification ratio – are closely bunched up together, and the size of the window provides a poor viewing angle. To see the bottom line, you essentially need to be looking down from directly above the lens, which isn't particularly convenient.
Still, that this minor grievance is the only one worth mentioning should make it clear that there's very little to fault with - and plenty to like about - the Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED's operation.
At its maximum aperture, the Nikkor lens does a stellar job to record sharp and detailed images, with just a slight drop towards the edges of the frame. When stopped down to around f/8, results are just as impressive, but sadly it can't keep it up for long, and by f/16 diffraction causes its results to fall behind some of its rivals.
Sadly, its control over both distortion and chromatic aberrations, while not bad, is also bettered by even cheaper macro optics.
The Vibration Reduction system is effective, though, not always providing its claimed four-stop advantage but safely having the benefit of a couple of stops.
In short, for its wide-mid aperture results, the Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED's a corker, and with its VR system on board it's a great choice for non-macro work such as portraiture.