Nikons Naughty Forty

Nikons Naughty Forty

I picked up a Nikon Z 40mm f2 lens a couple of weeks ago or so and thought I’d jot down a few notes on my first thoughts on the lens.

Since I’ve had my Nikon Z6 it’s always had either a 24-70 or 14-30 f4 zoom lens stuck on the end of it. Both suit most of what I mainly use the Z6 for, ie woodland and outdoor photography and I’ve found both lenses to be optically very good and the handling of the camera excellent.

For everything else, I have other cameras which I feel suit me for more day to day shooting. I like the size and weight of the Z6 camera body but not with a zoom lens for wandering around towns and urban areas.

But the idea of using a prime lens that is reasonably compact has always piqued my interest – maybe the Z6 & a small prime lens would work well

Enter the naughty forty
When Nikon announced their small 40mm f2 Z lens it looked a good option for me – particularly at the crazy price of £250! Having read a few reviews it seemed an opportunity to dip a toe in the Z prime lens world.

First impressions when I got the lens weren’t great to be honest. I felt a bit underwhelmed by it. It’s a featureless, plastic lens with a plastic mount – Nikon don’t even ship the lens with a lens hood. But at the price it’s hardly surprising.

When fitting the lens to the Z6 it felt to me that it made the camera look like an oversized bridge camera and I really didn’t care for the look of the camera and lens together.

In fact, so much so that after a few test shots around the house and garden to check the lens worked OK, I popped the camera in my bag and picked up a different camera from the shelf!

Having now had the lens for a couple of weeks, I’m slowly warming to it. The original lens hood I popped on it (a generic metal one), I’ve ditched and just put a UV filter on the front. I think that helps to make the camera and lens a little less unattractive!

So what’s the lens like given its price?
I was a little apprehensive given a couple of reviews I’d read on the lens and the fact that the cost must mean some QA factors would be missing.

For the most part it appears to work well. The 40mm focal length is a nice option for day to day shooting, being primarily a 35mm focal length user, I don’t notice ‘that much difference.’

Wide open at f2 there is little vignetting, however the edges aren’t sharp, sharp and micro contrast isn’t right up there, although in fairness this can be adjusted fairly easily in LR.

Sharpness is acceptable for me though, but I believe the S prime lenses such as the 35mm or 50mm offer better results. Centre sharpness is very good though and quite pleasing. Out of focus areas wide open are OK, no complaints from me there.

So will it work for me?
I’m still not sold on the looks of the body & lens combination together but I am a big fan of Nikon RAW files, they produce pleasing results to my eye and they are easy enough to process in LR or C1.

Having a walkabout lens is a bonus and the weight and size of the Z6 with the 40mm f2 make it comfortable to take out and about easily enough.

Having looked discouragingly at it for the past couple of weeks or so, I’ve decided to give it a fair go. I’m going to use it as my primary lens for the next few weeks and see how I really feel about it over that time.

Here’s a few random walkabout images shot with the Nikon Z6 & 40mm f2.

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