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Nikon AF-S DX Micro 40mm f/2.8G Lens Review

Nikon AF-S DX Micro 40mm f/2.8G Lens Review  


September 2011
(tested with Nikon D7000)

The Nikon AF-S DX Micro 40mm f/2.8G was announced in July 2011 and made available in the US in late August. For a macro (micro) lens this one is on the short side. The longer a macro lens is the more working distance you have between you and your subject. The working distance is simply the amount of space needed between the lens and your subject to focus properly. A lens this short has a small working distance, about 2 inches, so photographing insects and other live subjects isn't really what it's designed for. The new Micro 40mm is an AF-S lens, so it will autofocus on all Nikon DSLR cameras. It's a DX lens, specifically made for cameras wth smaller sensors.

The lens is made mostly of plastic. The focus ring is rubber coated and turns smoothly. The lens mount is metal and includes a rubber gasket. My copy was a little tight when twisting it on and off the camera. On the side of the lens is a standard Nikon manual focus switch and a focus limit switch which lets you change the focus distance limits to either full or infinity to 0.2m. Autofocus can also be overridden just by turning the focus ring. Autofocus is fast with normal use but a bit slow when photographing macro subjects. The lens comes with a hood and pouch. The front element is recessed deep enough so the hood isn't really necessary most of the time.

For normal use the Nikon 40mm f/2.8G Micro is sharp wide open. Center sharpness is excellent. The corners and borders are very good. Stopping down to f/4 the corners and borders are also excellent. I found peak sharpness to be between f/5.6 and f/8.

I didn't notice any barrel distortion. If it's there it's barely visible. There was very slight vignetting at f/2.8. Not a problem at all. Chromatic aberration wasn't present in the test shots I took. Flare isn't a problem whatsoever. I found the bokeh to be good wide open. Not the best, but more than acceptable.

The Nikon 40mm Micro DX performed equally as well for macro use. As mentioned before it's really not made for traditional macro photography. It's best used for copy work or small product photography. Since the lens is so close to the subject an on camera flash is basically useless. I tried shooting the test subject below with the Sigma EM-140 Macro Flash Ring and still got uneven results. I did best when I used side lighting. For the samples below, the quarter didn't fill the entire frame, so I cropped off the edges. The first image is resized down to 33.3%. The second is a 100% crop. This was a jpeg straight out of the camera, no post processing, with in camera +3 sharpening.

Nikon AF-S DX Micro 40mm f/2.8G 

Nikon AF-S DX Micro 40mm f/2.8G

I compared the Nikon AF-S Micro DX 40mm f/2.8G with the Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G ED. My results in a nutshell are:

- the 40mm is slightly sharper at all apertures
- normal focus speed was about the same
- the 35mm has slightly better bokeh
- the 40mm has less distortion, CA, and vignetting

Recommending this lens is a bit of a toss up for me. Optically it's excellent, both as a normal and macro lens. But the short working distance makes it impractical for serious macro photography. The Nikon Micro 105mm VR would be a much better choice. For a normal fast prime I would choose the cheaper Nikon 35mm f/1.8 because of the extra stop. If you already have the 35mm f/1.8 and/or a macro lens I'd skip this one. If you have neither and are not too interested in macro photography, but would like to take an occassional closeup photo, then this is the lens for you.




Focal length 40mm
Maximum aperture f/2.8
Minimum aperture f/22
Lens Construction 9 elements in 7 groups
Angle of view 38o50' DX format
Closest focusing distance .163m (.53 ft)
Maximum reproduction ratio 1.0x
Number of diaphragm blades 7
Auto focus type AF-S (Silent Wave Motor)
Filter diameter 52 mm
Macro Yes
Dimensions 68.5 mm (2.7 in) x 64.5 mm (2.5 in)(Diameter x Length)
Weight 280g (9.9 oz)

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