Nikkor Z 40mm f / 2 review

The range of lenses for the Nikon Z mirrorless system continues to evolve. There are currently 20 full-frame lenses and three DX formats, as well as two teleconverters. Today we are reviewing another novelty – Nikkor Z 40mm F / 2. Let’s get acquainted!

The focal length of 40 mm cannot be called standard. If a 35 mm lens is considered to be the most versatile prime, then 40 mm is a kind of middle option between 35 and 50 mm. This is no longer so wide that it can be used, for example, in street photography. But still not enough for portraits without distortion of linear perspective. Nevertheless, it is in portrait photography that we will be testing the Nikkor Z 40mm F / 2 – any geometry distortion can be both a disadvantage and an advantage. Above, you can watch practical shooting with the Nikkor Z 40mm f / 2 in the favorite # ProLens formant, and in the text section, which you are reading now, you can familiarize yourself with the optical performance tests in detail. 

Nikkor Z 40mm f / 2 appearance and characteristics

© Ilya Kaigorodov

Nikkor Z 40mm f / 2 received a relatively compact body. It is 45.5 cm long and weighs only 170 grams. However, it is still not the smallest full-frame lens in the Z lineup. It only rivals the Nikkor Z 28mm f / 2.8 in size. The exterior is absolutely minimalistic. There are no switches, no graduation, just one electronic focusing ring. The function of the ring can be reassigned in the menu to control aperture (which will be especially appreciated by videographers), as well as control of ISO and exposure compensation.

Like all budget lenses, Nikkor Z 40mm is made of plastic, including a bayonet mount. The lens is a sealed, dust / moisture resistant construction. The lens does not have a hood mount. 

© Ilya Kaigorodov 

The filter thread diameter is 52 mm. The new 28mm f / 2.8 lens, which has almost identical dimensions. It is also equipped with a 52mm thread. Thus, an interesting set for a videographer working with a steadicam emerges – the same weight and size of lenses, the same light filters, less financial costs for light filters and no need to spend time rebalancing the steadicam when changing lenses. So take a note, especially since there is something to brag about in terms of optical capabilities for video, but more on that below.

The Nikkor Z 40mm f / 2 optical design consists of 6 elements in 4 groups. Including two aspherical lenses, designed to reduce not only the size of the structure itself, but also to reduce geometric distortion. 

Nikkor Z 40mm f / 2 testing

Nikon Z6 + Nikkor 40/2. 
Options: 1/160, ISO320, f / 2

All test frames were saved in RAW format, then opened in RawDigger and exported to a TIFF file. This entire process is required to disable all sorts of in-camera adjustments that cannot be eliminated in standard converters like Lightroom and Capture One. We analyze not only the center and periphery, but also the periphery relative to the APS-C matrix. 

Nikkor Z 40mm f / 2 cannot boast of ringing sharpness. Nevertheless, the center is as sharp as possible already at open aperture. If you compare full frame and APS-C, you can see a sharp decrease in quality at the periphery of the full frame. APS-C is significantly superior in sharpness. Thus, on a crop camera, we can get a better picture over the entire field of the frame than on the full frame. The sharpest possible sharpness across the entire Nikkor Z 40mm f / 2 frame is achieved in the f / 4-11 range. 

Chromatic aberration 

We analyze two types of aberrations – longitudinal and transverse. The nature of their manifestation is somewhat different. However, Nikkor Z 40mm f / 2 is very pleasing with this aspect. We observed almost complete absence of chromatic aberrations. Great! 

Bokeh

The Nikkor Z 40mm f / 2 bokeh pattern was a pleasant surprise. Light discs practically do not distort their shape, which is not so often seen. The discs are uniformly filled without the onion ring effect. 

Nikkor Z 40mm f / 2 for video

The first thing I want to talk about is focus breathing. This effect appears as a zoom change when refocusing. The absence of such an effect is very much appreciated by videographers and is characterized, as a rule, by an expensive specialized cine lens. Nevertheless, our hero, when refocusing from MDF to infinity, gives a change in scale of just over one percent! That is a very good indicator.

Videographers will also appreciate the beautiful bokeh that is present even when the aperture is closed. Fast and accurate autofocus is also a plus not only for photography, but also for video.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that the Nikkor Z 40mm f / 2 is a budget lens relative to the entire Nikkor Z line, its optical performance has not suffered much from this. Perhaps the main drawback is the low sharpness, which limits the pool of cameras used – with the Nikon Z7 / Z7 II and Z9, this lens should not be used if you want to get the maximum resolution of a 45-megapixel sensor. But again, let’s not forget, we are talking about a budget lens that is not designed for high-end cameras. 

But at the same time, we have almost complete absence of chromatic aberration, no geometric distortion, minimal focus breathing and very beautiful bokeh – all this is typical for high-end lenses. Well, plus to everything we are dealing with a fairly compact lens. When it comes to video, in my opinion the Nikkor Z 40mm f / 2 might be the perfect choice if you are looking for a similar focal length.

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