NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2: Amidst Wide & Normal
The NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2 is the company’s FX format compact, prime, affordable option for its Z series cameras. Shridhar Kunte tests it.
Nikon, in an attempt at creating a strong base for its Z system cameras, has introduced compact and affordable prime lenses. Several lens manufacturers have started moving on to 40mm focal length range as the new normal. Nikon’s 40mm is one of them; the focal length being wide enough for true to nature shots as well as head and shoulder portraits.
Designed for Z series cameras, the lens can also be used on DX format cameras, where it provides a 60mm equivalent focal length. The optical design comprises two aspherical elements that help in limiting spherical aberrations and distortion. This eventually will reflect in higher sharpness and accuracy in image reproduction. The lens elements are treated with Super Integrated Coating. This helps in controlling flare and ghosting, and enhances image quality in terms of contrast and colour bandwidth, while using the lens in bright and backlit situations.
The lens uses an internal focus design that helps in keeping its overall length constant over the entire focusing range. Full time manual focusing is also possible, during which only the internal groups are moved. The programmable control ring is set to adjust to manual focus by default. However, this setting can be changed, and the ring can also be used to control aperture or exposure compensation.
This is a relatively compact lens that weighs 170g. The built quality is decent; the lens is made up of engineering grade plastic, including the mount. This is why the lens is so lightweight, and to add more on this aspect, the lens uses a stepping motor that is cheaper than linear motors, and is the most appropriate option to maintain its compact size. For this review, I used the lens with the Nikon Z5. The combination was well balanced and is still relatively small and light enough to carry around during long hours of shooting. On the lens, there is only one adjustable component, that is the control ring; it is easy to grip as it is entirely covered in ridging.
I was quite impressed with the autofocus speed of the lens, and the full time manual focusing is smooth as well. Cinematographers will find this to be an exceptional advantage, as it becomes quite easy to shift focus from one object to another, while capturing videos. The image quality is excellent at the centre when used at the wide end, but for better results, I was happy to use the lens at f/4. The edge sharpness is acceptable from f/2 to f/4; the overall performance is at its peak from f/4 to f/8. The light fall off is evident at f/2, but it improves from f/3.5 onwards. The lens is almost distortion-free with no trace of either barrel or pincushion distortion in either the JPEGs or RAW files.
Barring its affordable price tag of Rs. 21,995, its small size and weight makes the lens a popular choice for casual and travel photographers. The 40mm focal length offers an in-between option that enables you to shoot distortion-free images as well as flattering portraits when used with DX format cameras.
This article originally appeared in the November 2021 issue of Better Photography.
Optical speed at f/2, control ring
Distortion-free, optical performance
No weathersealing, plastic construction
Compact size, broad control ring
|Warranty & Support
Wide service network, two-year warranty
|VALUE FOR MONEY||3.5/5|
|Who should buy it?||It is suitable for most genres of photography, as well as for videography|
|Why?||The lens with its focal length will bring out the best from those who know various photographic techniques.|