Nikon 40mm f/2.8G DX Review

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This is an in-depth review of the new Nikon 40mm f/2.8G DX macro / micro prime lens that was announced in July of 2011. The Nikon 40mm f/2.8G DX, also known as “AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G” is a consumer-grade lens for photo enthusiasts that need an affordable macro lens with good performance characteristics. In the current line of macro lens offerings from Nikon, this lens comes at the lowest price point and shortest focal length. With the former being good news, the latter can be a problem in some situations, specifically when approaching subjects very closely (read more on this issue below). With the current great fast aperture prime lens line from Nikon such as Nikon 35mm f/1.8G and Nikon 50mm f/1.8G, one might wonder what the Nikon 40mm f/2.8G DX has to offer that the other primes cannot accomplish. How does it differ from other affordable primes? In this review, I will talk about the capabilities of the Nikon 40mm f/2.8G DX and provide a detailed report on its strengths and weaknesses, along with a summary of thoughts about the lens based on my two month experience with it.

Nikon 40mm f/2.8G DX

While the lens is limited to cameras like Nikon D3100, D5100 and D7000 with a DX sensor and comes at a very attractive price point of $279, it has Silent Wave Motor / AF-S, which allows the lens to silently autofocus on all modern Nikon DSLRs, and Super Integrated Coating, which dramatically reduces lens flare and ghosting. It is a small and relatively lightweight lens that weighs only 10 ounces (280 grams), which is roughly 4 ounces heavier than the super lightweight Nikon 50mm f/1.8G. Other notable features include 1.0x reproduction ratio (more on that later), 0.53 ft minimum focus distance (from the sensor, not the lens barrel), 7 semi-rounded diaphragm blades for pleasant-looking bokeh, a focus limiter switch to increase autofocus speed, 3 focus modes with autofocus override and a 52mm filter size. In short, a great list of features at a low price.

Nikon 40mm f/2.8 Sample #9

NIKON D7000 + 40mm f/2.8 @ 40mm, ISO 100, 1/200, f/8.0

One question I get asked a lot on DX lenses, is whether DX lenses have to be multiplied by the crop factor of 1.5x to gets their true field of view or not. As I have explained in my “Equivalent Focal Length and Field of View” article, it does not matter if you use a DX or a full-frame lens – the focal length of a lens never changes when used on different size sensors – only the angle of view does. In other words, you see wider with full-frame sensors and narrower with crop-factor sensors. This means that the Nikon 40mm f/2.8G DX has a field of view equivalent to approximately 60mm in full-frame format. So think of it as a cheaper and lighter alternative to the Nikon 60mm f/2.8G ED (when the 60mm is mounted on a full-frame camera).

In this review, I will provide a thorough analysis of the Nikon 40mm f/2.8G lens, along with image samples and comparisons against the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX and Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lenses.

1) Lens Specifications

Main Features:

  1. Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM) enables fast, accurate and quiet autofocus.
  2. M/A focus mode switch enables quick changes between manual and autofocus operation.
  3. Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC) enhances light transmission efficiency and offers superior color consistency and reduced flare.
  4. The Close-Range Correction system makes each lens group move independently to achieve superior performance at close distances.
Nikon 40mm f/2.8 Sample #12

NIKON D7000 + 40mm f/2.8 @ 40mm, ISO 100, 1/500, f/5.6

Technical Specifications:

  1. Mount Type: Nikon F-Bayonet
  2. Focal Length: 40mm
  3. Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
  4. Minimum Aperture: f/22
  5. Format: DX
  6. Maximum Angle of View (DX-format): 38°50′
  7. Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 1.0x
  8. Lens Elements: 9
  9. Lens Groups: 7
  10. Compatible Format(s): DX
  11. Diaphragm Blades: 7
  12. Distance Information: Yes
  13. Super Integrated Coating: Yes
  14. Autofocus: Yes
  15. AF-S (Silent Wave Motor): Yes
  16. Minimum Focus Distance: 0.53ft (0.163m)
  17. Focus Mode: Auto, Manual, Auto/Manual
  18. G-type: Yes
  19. Filter Size: 52mm
  20. Accepts Filter Type: Screw-on
  21. Dimensions: (Approx.) 2.7×2.5 in. (Diameter x Length), 68.5×64.5mm (Diameter x Length)
  22. Weight: (Approx.) 9.9 oz. (280g)
  23. Supplied Accessories: LC-52 52mm Snap-on Front Lens Cap, LF-4 Rear Lens Cap, HB-61 Bayonet Hood, CL-0915 Flexible Lens Pouch

Detailed specifications for the lens, along with MTF charts and other useful data can be found in our lens database.

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