We spent some time this weekend playing around with the two macro lenses I rented as well as our own AF 105/2.8 D Micro. What do we think of them all now?
While shooting a flower bouquet with the focus locked as close as possible with the 40mm its front frequently came into contact with the flowers themselves. With any macro subject that isn’t perfectly flat you will find working at maximum magnification very difficult.
On top of that, the front element of the 40mm lens moves significantly during focus changes which alters the angle of view. If you try adjusting focus at all you will go through multiple iterations of compose, focus, re-compose, re-focus, re-compose, re-focus, etc…
In comparison, the AF-S 60/2.8 G Micro lens was a pleasure to use. It had a good working distance at maximum magnification; it never came too close to our subjects. And with its internal focusing feature, changing focus had no noticeable effect on the composition.
There was really no competition at all in our mind: if the 60mm lens is within your budget we can’t see a good reason to even consider the 40mm. (And if a new 60mm isn’t in your budget, I would recommend a used 60mm over a new 40mm too!)
Keep in mind our goal was to consider these for use with our smaller DX format D300. If you use a full-frame FX body and/or 35mm film we would still prefer our good old 105mm lens (or its current equivalent).