I finally got our copy of the new 40mm macro lens and I must say, I'm very impressed. It's actually a very useful focal range, even though we own and use fast 35 and 50mm primes. Here are my thoughts on the lens. I will post sample pics tomorrow after I have some time with the lens.
The AF-S Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2.8 was tested on both of our D7000s.
1. Extremely sharp, even wide open. The lens is no departure from Nikon's method of making a super sharp Macro lens. I compared the 40mm DX macro to the amazing 105mm f/2.8 VR macro and @ 1:1 magnification, I could barely tell the difference. The 105mm Macro had slightly better contrast but was not much sharper(if at all). Onced stopped down, I really couldn't tell the difference and I have a very discerning eye.
2. Small and light. This lens is very small and very portable as well as being very light. It's slightly larger than the 35mm 1.8G DX lens and weights about the same as the 50mm 1.8G(to my hands).
3. Very little distortion. I couldn't detect any serious distortion, as you would expect for a Micro-Nikkor.
4. Has a decent focus scale.
5. Build quality seems about the same as the new 50mm 1.8G, a step above the 35mm 1.8G DX lens. The focus ring is solid and smooth. The lens has a metal mount and an Ass-Gasket.
6. Is a great value, regardless of your experience level. @ $279, this lens packs a serious "Bang for the Buck", especially considering it's really impressive performance.
7. Last but not least, GREAT bokeh! At least in my opinion. Bokeh is very subjective, but I find it to be very pleasant. Not the creamiest bokeh ever, but damn impressive for the price.
1. Somewhat slow AF-S. The Silent Wave Motor is slower than expected, but very very accurate. Which, for a Macro lens is actually a "pro". If this lens is used for general photography, the AF speed might get annoying.
2. Close working distance. 1:1 reproduction occurs at mere inches from the front lens element. This gives you very little room to work and makes proper lighting of your subject somewhat difficult(unless you're using a dedicated Macro flash rig). This is especially difficult if you're using the lens hood. I had to remove the lens hood to allow extra light between the lens and the subject. This is not a deal breaker(especially not for the price), but rather an annoyance.
3. DX only. Now this in my opinion, is actually a "Pro" as well(for Macro work) and a "Con" for general purpose photography. Macro work should always be carried out on DX, due to the added crop factor. I always do macro work on DX for this very reason. It would of been nice to use the lens on a FX body, as this would be a decent semi-wide angle prime for general photography. I have yet to try this lens on FX, it will probably work, but with heavy vignetting. I'll have to report back on this.
4. Inner barrel extends as magnification increases. This makes working distance issues even worse at high magnification. It would of been better to make the lens an IF(Internal Focus) design, but this would made the lens much larger, heavier and more expensive.
I think this pretty much covers my initial thoughts. Overall, it's very impressive, especially for the money.
Look for sample shots tomorrow(hopefully).