In terms of performance, there are marked similarities between this and the Tamron 60mm. Both drop off significantly in sharpness at their widest available apertures, and exhibit colour fringing towards the corners of the frame. However, while barrel distortion can be noticeable in the Tamron 60mm, the 90mm has barely perceptible pincushion distortion. For full-frame shooters who favour a short focal length, this lens gives the same reach as when using the Nikon 40mm on a DX body. It’s only a little longer than a ‘standard’ 50mm prime lens and a good choice for general photography.
Upmarket attractions missing from the 40mm lens include ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass and Nano Crystal coating, which reduce colour fringing and optimise resolution, contrast, and limit ghosting and flare. Good build quality sees the inclusion of a weather seal on the mounting plate.
Considering it’s the most expensive lens in the group, it feels a little basic. There’s no focus limiter switch nor an optical stabiliser, both of which are present and well implemented on both the Sigma 105mm OS and Tamron 90mm VC lenses. On the plus side, at least this Nikon’s ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system is just as rapid and quiet as in the other two lenses.
Sharpness is excellent at f/8 but merely average at f/16, which is unfortunate as the latter is a popular choice for macro shooting. In all other respects, performance is pretty good but, for our money, the Nikon doesn’t quite do enough to make it particularly good value.