Small, affordable and with a minimum focus of 16.3cm, Nikon’s 40mm f/2.8 micro lens may be suitable for more than just macro images. Richard Sibley finds out what it can do
The 40mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens is constructed of nine elements in seven groups and offers a 40mm focal length, which is equivalent to 60mm on a full-frame (FX) Nikon DSLR. Each aperture blade is rounded to create smooth, out-of-focus bokeh, and at infinity the aperture range is f/2.8 to f/22.
As you would expect for a lens costing around £250, the body itself is made of plastic – or polycarbonate, as manufacturers call it these days. The plastic has a slightly mottled texture that gives it a matt finish.
The body mount is made from metal, and despite the largely plastic construction of the lens it is well put together, with no wobble and a smooth focus mechanism.
The focus ring itself has a fairly slim rubber grip approximately 11mm wide, and sitting below this on the lens barrel is a focus distance chart. This shows the current focus distance in feet and metres, as well as the current level of reproduction, from 10:1 at around 40cm to 1:1 at the minimum focus distance of 16.3cm.
There is no optical image stabilisation in the lens, the presence of which would have no doubt significantly increased its size and price.
However, there are two switches on the side of the lens: one to switch between autofocus with manual override (M/A) and full manual focus; and the other to switch between using the full focus range or locking it between infinity and 20cm. This switch excludes the 16.3-20cm range from use, which constitutes a turn of around one-third of the barrel, compared to just a quarter turn to go from 20cm to infinity. Excluding the minimum focus range makes the lens faster to focus, allowing it to perform more like a standard 40mm fixed lens.
In comparison, the older 60mm f/2.8D AF Micro Nikkor FX lens also has a lock, but this one allows the focal range to be locked to either close focus or standard focus. This is more useful because it means the lens can perform either as a standard optic or purely for macro work, which makes AF focusing easier.