Close up and macro photography opens up a new world for those interested in photographing small things like insects, stamps, butterflies, etc.
Since macro photography generally requires a specialised lens (not that it cannot be done using other means), that is often quite expensive, this genre of photography often falls beyond the financial means of budding photographers. Fear no more! This new ‘Micro’ lens from Nikon is not expensive, and yet delivers the goods!
Design and Build Quality
Small and lightweight, the AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G body is constructed from metal and polycarbonate. Though not as tough as the other Micro Nikkors available today, it is good enough for the purpose it is designed. The lens mount is made of metal and so is the 52mm filter ring. The lens weighs a mere 280g.
The lens is designed for the APS-C format and is constructed with 9 elements in 7 groups. All these elements have Super Integrated Coatings to reduce flare and ghosting. The minimum focussing distance (measured from the sensor plane) is 16cm (6.4 inches), at which point it offers a maximum magnification of 1x (life size). The distance scale is marked in meters as well as in feet, and a magnification scale (from 1:1 up to 1:10) is also available. The newly designed 40mm micro lens (equivalent to 60mm in the 35mm format) features a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for quick and silent autofocussing. Because of the SWM, this lens can also be used on Nikon D-SLRs that do not have a built-in AF motor. A Focus Mode switch (M/A – M) permits manual override, while a Focus Limit switch limits autofocus between 0.163m to infinity (FULL) and from 0.2m and infinity for quicker AF.
The AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G is slated to ensure excellent image quality at close distances, thanks to its ‘Close-Range Correction System’ where the lens elements are configured in a ‘floating design’ with each lens group moving independently of each other to ensure the most accurate focus. The lens uses 7-bladed diaphragm and offers a minimum aperture of f/22. Since this is a G-type lens, it does not have an aperture ring. The apertures are controlled from the camera body. The lens measures 6.4 (W) x 6.9cm (L).
The 40mm Micro lens was very easy to use and balanced perfectly with the camera body. The manual focus ring on our sample felt a bit over-damped, but that could be because the lens was brand new.
The AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G was tested on a Nikon D80 body. Considering the lens’ low cost, we would say its performance was outstanding. There is one caveat though. At its closest focussing distance (which gives you life-size magnification), the subject will be less than 1.5-inches from the front of the lens. Tell me, how are you going to light your subject? Won’t the camera’s shadow fall on the subject? Of course if the subject is back-lit for example, that may not be a problem. Additionally, the 40mm lens (equivalent to 60mm in the 35mm format) could serve you well as a general-purpose lens.
Images were sharp at all apertures. At f/2.8, we could notice a slight fall-off in sharpness at the corners, but were very impressed with the overall result. Darkening of corners at the widest aperture was negligible, which is very good. Distortion was almost non-existent. Flare was well-controlled, but magenta fringing was evident in strong against-the-light shots. We did not notice any colour cast induced by the lens coatings, which is again, good. Autofocus was quite fast, even considering our old D80 body!
Value for Money
The AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G is available at an MRP of Rs.16,250. At this price and performance, we believe it is a very good lens.
– Very small working distance
Design and Build Quality 15/20
Key Features 16/20
Distortion Control 5/5
Darkening of Corners 4/5
Extra Features 3/5
Value for Money 8/10
Grand Total 81/100
Image quality from Nikon lenses have rarely disappointed us. The low-cost AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G keeps up with the tradition. It is worthy of our ‘Best Buy’ stamp (though keep in mind our comments on its closest focussing distance).