« Sports Has a Bad Scriptwriter (OT) | Main | Do You Still Care About 'Sample Galleries'? »

Wednesday, 15 September 2021


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Nikon Rumors has the block diagram and MTF published:


I found a lens diagram and MTF curves for the new 40mm. Scroll down about a 1/4 page...


I pre-ordered one from B&H yesterday before they closed, using your "spiff" link of course.

Mike said "And today, of course, a 40mm ƒ/2 is the new "nifty fifty." It just doesn't rhyme is all."

I'm sticking with my usual 'Sporty Forty' :-)

Mike, Nikon has indeed published the optical diagram and MTF chart for the 40/2: https://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/lens/z-mount/z_40mmf2/spec.htm

I preordered mine the night it was announced and it looks like it will be a nice character lens.

Pre-ordered yesterday.

Block diagram and MTF charts at a few sites, including here: https://photographylife.com/news/nikon-z-40mm-f-2-announcement

For years, I used a 40mm Summicron, intended for the Leica CL on my M6. I had a little of the nub on the lens mount ground down so that the 35mm frame lines appeared rather than the 50mm default. Since the frame lines on the Leica M were very conservative, the 35mm frame lines exactly matched the 40mm field of view.
In DSLR days, I loved the 40mm Canon pancake lens. Very sharp and tiny. I'm using the lens on my R5 but it's a bit of a disappointment. Since the EF to RF adaptor has to be substantial enough to support a large EF lens, I now have a very heavy pancake lens. Still very sharp though. I've also come to realize that the 40mm Canon is slow to focus compared to the RF 24 to 105 f4 kit lens. This is not a function of the adaptor but rather that the 40 was never that fast to begin with. Congratulations to Nikon for making such a nice 40mm lens.

My kind of lens. I pre-ordered it as soon as I saw the announcement. If it’s as good as the majority of Nikkor Z lenses, it’ll be great; the compact dimensions and negligible weight will be a welcome change.

Not sure about your favorite lens but nice to see a good images of one of our favorite photographers.

"Curiously, the OM Zuiko 40mm ƒ/2 was not popular when it was new. Apparently no one quite knew what to make of the in-between focal length, or the "pancake" form-factor . . ."

One answer to "Why" this unusual design becomes clear when one looks at lens diagrams. In order to clear the mirror, SLR lenses go to retrofocus designs @ 35 mm, which makes them much larger than similar FL/aperture RF lenses.

40mm was likely chosen as the shortest non-retrofocus FL that could be designed for an SLR body. Next, F2 is likely the fastest that could be designed without needing at least one more element for acceptable IQ, thus raising size, defeating the design goal, and raising price, possibly defeating the marketing goal.

Although admired recently for its "Look", when the lens was released, it was panned for its modest optical performance. You can get some idea of Oly's target for the lens from their Sales Information Book, where "Applications" are listed as:

General photography.
Interior photograhy.
Snapshots and family gatherings.

Others made similar lenses. One I know is the Konica Hexanon 40/1.8, with similar optical design, identical weight and just a tiny bit larger.

Definitely soft @ f1.8, improving as it's stopped down. A much cheaper choice for my menagerie of old and less than perfect MF lenses than the Oly.

Not quite as bad as I might like for that group, but the look wide open is a pleasant sort of softness. \;~)>

You do nice work with an 85mm f1.8 as well, Mike. :-) Beautiful portrait of Sally. What was she famous for back in the 80s, that your student wanted to meet her? Immediate Family was published in 1992.

[She had published an earlier book, and the work that became "Immediate Family" had been shown around DC. --Mike]

I can see "shorty forty". "Sporty" doesn't work for me because it makes me think of sports, which for me require long lenses.

Does that make the Panasonic 20/1.7 for MFT the "plenty twenty"? :-) I still use it quite happily, if I'm shooting primes that day.

Something else that might tick somebody's box: the new Nikon fc also has the Z mount, and will take this lens, where (because the fc is an APS-C) it will be a 60mm equiv. That is *very* tempting.

I can live with a 50 or a 35 butI cannot live without a 40. I this case a 20 for my G9 but you know what I mean.

Wonderful picture of Sally Mann, well done.

(I remember the last time you wrote about her and this lens. So how come I can’t remember if I’ve taken my pills this morning?)

Eolake Stobblehouse

By the way, these days I feel restricted by having no zoom, but if I would select one lens, this might be in. (And a 100mm.)

Eolake Stobblehouse

I appreciate everything that you have waxed eloquently about the 40mm lens genre, however I am dismayed by the cheap build quality and the plastic mount which can also be translated as light weight. Of course it costs only 300 bucks but so does the Viltroxes and TT Artisanses which are also priced similarly. How well built they are with their svelte metal bodies and etched numerals!

By the way, as for your writing, for years this has been the only blog I still follow.

Eolake Stobblehouse

Mike, I actually already order the lens from my local camera store in Columbus Ohio. I own both the 50 s and the 35 s and really don’t need this lens. But yes always a but, I really like the focal length and for the price I can’t not order it. Good post today. Since in your history you were a Nikon shooter, I am surprised you don’t want to try the Z series cameras. I own two, the 6 and 7 2, and use and love them both. All the best. Eric

Another great addition to my book collection, thanks to you, Michael! The Warhol Polaroids are amazing in their raw material, immediacy, and accessibility. Only a small number are reaching to the breaking point in being “Artistic.” A great number of them are fascinating, relevant, and compelling.

Your book recommendations over the past years have added many scintillating titles to my bookcases.

A suggestion: do a Bakers Dozen where TOP readers send in photos of their Photography Book Collections. I think it would be interesting and revelatory as to scope, genre, and history to see what your readers have accumulated and value.

Thanks again for bringing this very affordable and well done collection by an important artist to my attention!


This Lens is more than interesting for me. Would buy it immediatly. But no Nikon Z in the house. My Panasonic 20 is still in use with Olympus OMD M1 II. Very nice combination. I use it for the most of my pictures.

Christine Bogan

This lens is making me regret getting the 50 1.8 a little, which is an amazing lens. A smaller 40 would be nice, but I don't need both 40 and 50. The rationalization required every time to choose which one to use would result in zero pictures being taken.

The 50 f3.5 on the 100s is pretty close to 40 mm...and makes for a wonderful hand-holdable camera.

I'm not learned in the ways of lens design, but I thought traditionally a 'pancake' lens in 35mm format was specifically of a Tessar design and 4 elements typically ~45mm in focal length. Maybe it was a symmetrical design? Now it seems just to mean one that is physically short. Of course, I could also be completely mistaken.

Also, if the youths would please stay off of my lawn, I'd appreciate it.


Mike, I saw comparison photos between Nikon's new 40/f2, preproduction, and the Z 50/1.8 S. The 50 is a little sharper to my eye, but the 40 has more pleasing bokeh. With its plastic lens mount and all, the Nikon Z 40/f2 seems to be a "character" lens, and is not as achingly sharp as the other Z lenses.

As if the asking price for the Zuiko 40/2 couldn’t go much higher - there you go! 😂

That should be the maximum allowable size for any prime 50 or under.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007