Nikon's Most Unique Lens Yet? Nikon 40mm F2 Z First Impressions




There isn't much that is really, truly exciting in the lens world. Mostly, companies just try to make their own versions of something else. But that's not the case with the Nikon 40mm f2 Z. There aren't many 40mm lenses on the market with autofocus. And this one is checking off all the right marks. It's small, has autofocus, and boasts beautiful image quality. But perhaps best of all is that it's only $299.95. Quite honestly, it's an impulse buy. And it's the best lens outside of a nifty 50 you can get for that price.

Editor's Note: We tested a pre-production Nikon 40mm f2. But we've got a full production unit in now for the review. Expect our review to be coming soon!

Tech Specs

Taken from our original report

  • A compact, versatile prime lens that is ideal for everyday applications such as close-ups, casual portraits and food photography.

  • Delivers fantastic bokeh and a dramatic separation of the subject from the background.

  • The standard focal range hits the sweet spot of a natural angle of view, while still being wide enough for street photography. When mounted on a DX-format camera, the lens is equivalent to 60mm, which is a great focal length for flattering portraits.

  • Ultra-compact, weighing in at merely 170g and only 1.8" long, making it easy to carry around for day-long outings.

  • Built with 6 elements in 4 groups with a 9-blade diaphragm that creates a gorgeous, circular bokeh that draws attention to the subject.

  • Utilizes an electromagnetic diaphragm for precise aperture control and stable exposure during continuous shooting.

  • The NIKKOR Z 40mm f2 offers a short 0.96ft (0.29m) minimum focusing distance, which is excellent for capturing food and top-down photos of décor and tablescapes.

  • Designed with consideration for dust and drip-resistant performance with a sealing that prevents dust and water droplets from entering the lens.

  • Video shooters will benefit from the quiet operation, natural focus shift that allows for fluid changes when going from close focusing to infinity, reduced focus breathing and smooth aperture control.

  • The lens features an integrated control ring, which can be customized and assigned to adjust focus, ISO, aperture and exposure compensation.

  • $299.95 price point.

Ergonomics

 

The Nikon 40mm f2 Z isn't very complicated. Looking at the front, you see the 52mm filter thread, which means this is a small lens. As we've said before in many blog posts, Nikon truly embraces the idea that mirrorless should be small while also being functional and having great ergonomics.

 

Look at the top of the lens. Besides the focusing ring, there aren't any other controls on it.

Build Quality

 

The Nikon 40mm f2 Z lens is said to be weather resistant, or at least those considerations were incorporated into the design. Granted, this was a pre-production version we were testing on the Nikon z6 II. There's no way I'm taking this into the rain. But we'll do that with the production version for sure.

Overall, there's nothing that makes this lens stand out much. It's made of plastic on the outside, but it isn't plasticky feeling in a bad way. It's solid, hard plastic. It's also quite small. If I were to get a single prime lens for the Nikon Z series, this would probably be it. However, I'd really love it to have the same sealing as the S series products.

Ease of Use

 

The Nikon 40mm f2 Z is simple enough to use. In fact, it's very straightforward. Mount the lens to the camera, point, focus, and shoot. It's that simple. The only control on this lens is the manual focus ring. If you want to manually focus, you have to first engage that control through the camera. Again though, there's no point in doing this. The Nikon z6 II doesn't have the most advanced autofocus, but it's reliable enough for most of what a passionate photographer may need.

Autofocus

Focusing with the Nikon 40mm f2 Z is quick in single focus situations. I spent some time walking around the neighborhood having fun with it and not doing anything too serious. What I love about NYC is that you can always be a tourist in your own city. And that's pretty much what I did. So if you're not trying to do serious work with the lens, then you'll be just fine. I didn't test the lens with anything too hectic because it's a pre-production version. Hopefully, the production version will be even faster.

Image Quality

The 40mm focal length is one of my favorites, but not many brands have one. And that's why I'm so happy that Nikon does. To be honest, I really like a whole lot about the Nikon 40mm f2 Z and the image quality it produces. For transparency, we had to run our photos by Nikon first before publishing them because this is a pre-production lens. My favorite image from this test isn't being published in this first impressions report. Nikon said that it showed significant ghosting. (That kind of breaks my heart, but we'll try for it again with the production lens.)

All these images are unedited.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

First Impressions

So far, I like the image quality from the Nikon 40mm f2 Z. I also adore how small it is. But I'll need to put a production unit through its rigors for a fuller test. Stay tuned for our full review to come.

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