Nikon Nikkor Z 40mm F/2 Lens Review

John Riley has partnered the Nikkor Z 40mm f/2 lens with the Nikon Z7 II to see if its performance is enough to win it an 'Editor's Choice' award from ePz.


|  Nikon NIKKOR Z 40mm F/2 in Interchangeable Lenses
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Nikon NIKKOR Z 40mm F/2
 

Nikon's Z system of cameras and lenses is steadily growing and now offers a very strong range that consistently nails it in terms of quality. Some of the lenses, especially the premium S range, are expensive, but now some new, very affordable optics are emerging. The Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE has already been reviewed and found to be superb, and hot on its heels we have the Nikkor Z 40mm f/2, similarly compact, light through the use of plastics, but this time without the overtly retro styling. It will be fascinating to see if it proves to be as good as the 28mm, so let's couple it up with the full-frame 45MP Nikon Z7 II and find out.

 

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Nikkor Z 40mm f/2 Handling and Features

Nikon NIKKOR Z 40mm F/2
 

The lens is light, weighing in at 170g, made possible by the extensive use of plastics including the mount. Construction quality is excellent and there is some dust and water sealing that will enable use in more situations. Nikon qualifies this on their website by saying water sealing is not guaranteed under all circumstances. This leaves us making a judgement as to how much rain, for example, is too much rain, but it has to be better than no sealing.

Intended for both full-frame (FX) and crop sensor (DX) Nikon Z cameras, on the crop sensor the "35mm equivalent" field of view equates to 60mm. This leaves the lens being a "wide standard" on full-frame and a short telephoto on APS-C. Both options are useful and in fact, 40mm lenses seem to be making a bit of a comeback.

Starting our tour of the lens at the front, there is no provided lens hood, always a shame, and for what it would cost including one would be a nice touch. There is a standard 52mm filter thread. Looking into the front element, the 9 bladed diaphragm can be clearly seen, making a very smooth rounded aperture.

There is only one control on the lens, the smooth electronic manual focusing ring. In fact, this control ring can be programmed by the camera and there are several function options. Focus, in AF or MF, is the default and we have the alternative options of aperture adjustment, exposure compensation and ISO. Not all may be available with all camera bodies.

 

Nikon NIKKOR Z 40mm F/2

 

Focusing is down to 0.29m, or 0.96 feet, for a maximum magnification of 0.17x. AF is driven by an impressively quiet stepping motor that is no slouch in finding the point of focus. Accuracy appears to be good, so the image snaps into focus efficiently.

Optical construction is just 6 elements in 4 groups, including 2 aspheric. We might expect from this a lens showing high contrast images and very little flare. There is no VR (Vibration Reduction) built into the lens, so we rely on VR in the camera bodies. Not all the Nikon Z bodies have this.

The lens is so simple to use that it becomes a simple extension of our eyes and the 40mm focal length gives a natural view of the world. It is very close to the theoretical standard lens for 35mm-format, which would be 43mm, calculated using a measurement of the diagonal of the format. If used on APS-C, then a 60mm-equivalent field of view is a slightly different beast, but still very useful. Of course, very early f/2 standard lenses were often 58mm, so a 60mm is not too far away from that.

Apart from the aesthetics of the image, the lens also has the merit of being extremely light and easy to carry for as long as it takes without fatigue. We are into the realms of compact travel lenses and there is much to be said for travelling light.

Nikon NIKKOR Z 40mm F/2
 


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