What We Know About the Nikon Z Pancakes (Development Announcement)

Camera companies have really been fans of development announcements recently! Today, alongside the formal announcement of two Nikon Z macro lenses, Nikon also revealed a few more details about the upcoming 28mm and 40mm pancake primes that have been on the roadmap for a while.

Specifically, Nikon has announced that the 28mm lens will have an f/2.8 maximum aperture, and the 40mm will be an f/2 lens. Nikon also said that they are “scheduled for release within 2021,” for what it’s worth.

Beyond that, all we know is that both lenses should have a 52mm front filter thread, as you can see if you look closely at the images below. It also looks like the 28mm f/2.8 lens will be just a hair smaller and lighter than the 40mm f/2. Here they are:

Nikon Z 28mm f2.8 Pancake Lens
Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 pancake lens
Nikon Z 40mm f2 Pancake Lens
Nikon Z 40mm f/2 pancake lens

Although it’s disappointing that this is merely a development announcement and it will probably be several months before the lenses are actually available, I am at least encouraged to see one thing: The 40mm prime is f/2 rather than f/2.8. This means it’s only 1/3 of a stop darker than the Z 50mm f/1.8, yet it looks to be about half the size. While this may come with an image quality penalty, I and many other photographers were expecting an f/2.8 lens (the usual maximum aperture of a pancake, if not f/4), so this is a welcome surprise.

In terms of the lens size, it’s a bit difficult to tell from the product images above, but Nikon has previously released this graphic with the relative sizes of their unannounced lenses. Though the 28mm and 40mm pancakes are shaded-in, it’s still clear that these are very small lenses compared to their peers. Only the 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 DX and 24-50mm f/4-6.3 are about the same size:

Nikon Z Lens Size Roadmap Diagram 27 lenses and 2 teleconverters by the end of 2022

There is no indication yet of how expensive the two pancake primes will be. However, given their narrower maximum apertures and the fact that they are not S-series lenses, they’ll most likely cost on the low end of things for Nikon Z glass. Considering that the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S has a $600 MSRP but often goes on sale for $500, I expect these new lenses to be in the $300-400 range instead, and maybe even less. Nikon is clearly positioning them below the 50mm f/1.8.

Here’s Nikon’s full press release for the two lenses:

Nikon is developing the NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 and NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2, two compact and lightweight prime lenses for the Nikon Z mount system

June 2, 2021

TOKYO – Nikon Corporation (Nikon) is pleased to announce development of the NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 and NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2, two compact and lightweight prime lenses for full-frame (Nikon FX-format) mirrorless cameras for which the Nikon Z mount has been adopted. Both of these lenses are scheduled for release during 2021.

The NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 is being developed as a wide-angle prime lens perfect for everyday snapshots, and the NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2 as a standard prime lens that will allow users to easily enjoy bokeh as part of their imaging expression. These two compact and lightweight prime lenses are designed for ease of use by a broad range of users, including those new to mirrorless cameras, and will be ideal for a wide variety of everyday scenes and situations.

Nikon will continue to pursue a new dimension in optical performance while meeting users’ needs, contributing to the development of imaging culture, with the hope of expanding possibilities for imaging expression.

*The appearance of the lenses may differ from the photos shown above.