A prime lens for the Nikon D40

Henry’s is bloody fast at delivery: it took less than two days for my order to arrive. And what was it that I ordered? Along with a new external hard drive for Time Machine purposes, I finally broke down and ordered a Sigma 30-mm f/1.4 lens, the rising Canadian dollar having knocked $120 or so off the price.

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 [Sigma Corporation] This lens is essentially the only autofocus fast-prime option for Nikon D40 users. All of Nikon’s lenses in this category are AF, not AF-S: AF lenses use a camera’s autofocus motors, and the D40 doesn’t have any; AF-S lenses have internal motors. Until now, I’ve been making do with manually focusing the Nikkor AF 50-mm f/1.8 lens, but with mixed results: if the main reason for a fast prime is low-light photography, it’s hard to focus manually in low light. And the angle of field is a bit too tight. Though it’s not likely as good a lens as a Nikon, the Sigma lens is wider angle and has two-thirds of an f-stop more aperture, and it’s also got internal autofocus motors.

Physically, the lens is a tank: it feels rough and coarse, like the product of a Soviet factory. At 430 grams, it weighs almost as much as the camera itself (475 grams). It’s so wide that the bottom edge is lower than the bottom edge of the camera. It’s a brute, but, as you can see from the following test shots, it works as advertised:

Jennifer in my officeJennifer at her desk

The shot at left was a 1/80-second exposure at f/1.4; at right, 1/160-second at f/2.8. Both ISO 800. As an autofocusing low-light lens, it does quite nicely indeed.

(I’ve linked before to Ken Rockwell’s review of this lens, but here it is again.)

Previously: Nikon D40 with an AF prime lens.