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Samsung 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 NX ED OIS II i-Function Zoom Lens Review

Samsung 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 NX ED OIS II i-Function Zoom Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the standard 18-55mm lens for Samsung NX cameras.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Samsung 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 NX ED OIS II i-Function Zoom Lens
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 NX ED OIS II i-Function Zoom Lens

This standard zoom lens for Samsung NX cameras provides an angle of view equivalent to a 27-82.5mm lens on a 35mm camera, includes support for Samsung's i-Function control system and optical images stabilisation. It is available as a kit option with some Samsung NX cameras, but is also available to purchase separately for around £200.

As no third party manufacturers currently produce lenses for the NX system, Samsung have a monopoly on lenses compatible with their cameras. Samsung also offer a 20-50mm lens, which has a compact collapsible design, narrower zoom range and lacks optical stabilisation for around the same price.

Samsung 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 NX ED OIS II i-Function Zoom Lens

Samsung 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 NX ED OIS II Handling and features

The lens barrel is constructed from reasonable quality plastics and the lens mount is plastic also. It has a metallic matte finish and a blue metallic ring between the lens body and the zoom ring. It balances well on the Samsung NX11 body used for testing due to its light weight of only 198g.

Focusing is performed internally, so the 58mm filter thread doesn't rotate, which is ideal for use with graduated and polarising filters. Focus speeds are quick, although maybe not sprightly enough to keep up with fast moving subjects. The manual focusing ring is very loose, which can make applying fine focus adjustments manually a little tricky, as it's very easy to accidentally nudge the ring whilst shooting, or to overshoot correct focus altogether. An iFunction button on the side of the lens provides quick access to a number of functions that can be customised in the camera menu.

The minimum focus distance of 28cm is fairly typical for lenses of this range. The optical image stabiliser keeps the on-screen image nice and steady and allows sharp shots to be taken roughly half the time at 1/10sec at 55mm. This is roughly three stops slower than the usual rule of thumb for taking hand held images would allow.

Samsung 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 NX ED OIS II i-Function Zoom Lens

Samsung 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 NX ED OIS II Performance

At 18mm and maximum aperture, sharpness in the centre of the image area is very good, and fairly good towards the edges of the frame. Although stopping down improves sharpness slightly across the frame, it never quite reaches excellent levels. Peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/8 for this focal length.

Zooming to 35mm results in a slight drop of sharpness in the centre of the frame although sharpness towards the edges remains constant, being fairly good. Again peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/8, where sharpness in the centre is very good, and fairly good towards the edges.

Zooming to 55mm results in a further drop in sharpness in the centre, with the lens just achieving good levels of clarity. Again, f/8 results in the best levels of sharpness across the frame.

Resolution @ 18mm
Resolution @ 18mm
  Resolution @ 35mm
Resolution @ 35mm
Resolution @ 55mm
Resolution @ 55mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Samsung NX11 using Imatest.

Levels of chromatic aberrations are low throughout the zoom range, except at 18mm, with the lens stopped down beyond f/11. Here CA levels start to rise beyond what may start to become an issue.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is remarkably well controlled with corners only being 0.2 stops darker than the image centre at 18mm and f/3.5 and visually uniform at 55mm and f/5.6. These levels of vignetting are so low that it will be very rare that any correction will be necessary.

Chromatic aberration @ 18mm
Chromatic aberration @ 18mm
  Chromatic aberration @ 35mm
Chromatic aberration @ 35mm
Chromatic aberration @ 55mm
Chromatic aberration @ 55mm
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Samsung NX11 using Imatest.

Barrel distortion at 18mm is extremely low at only 0.493%, but unfortunately quite disturbingly high levels of pincushion distortion are present at 55mm. Imatest detected 13.2% pincushion distortion, which can look highly unnatural in certain circumstances. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame throughout the zoom range, so it should be relatively easy to correct in image editing software afterwards.

Samsung 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 NX ED OIS II i-Function Zoom Lens Sample Photos


A petal-shaped hood is supplied with the lens, which does a decent job of shielding the front element from extraneous light that may cause flare and loss of contrast. Shooting into the light, this lens is reasonably resistant to flare, although flare can sometimes creep in when shooting at 18mm.

Samsung 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 NX ED OIS II Verdict

Overall, the performance of this lens isn't up to the same high standard of many other manufacturers kit lens offerings. Sharpness levels are good, but nothing special, and falloff is very well controlled. The high levels of CA at 18mm when stopped down and higher than normal levels of pincushion distortion at 55mm really go against this lens.

The performance of this lens is such that beginners will probably be happy enough with the general sharpness and build of the lens, but those wishing to produce very large prints, may find the limitations of this lens a little too much for them.

Samsung 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 NX ED OIS II Pros

Lightweight
Optical stabilisation
Low barrel distortion at 18mm
Low falloff

Samsung 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 NX ED OIS II Cons

High levels of pincushion distortion at 55mm
Occasionally prone to flare at 18mm
Sharpness never reaches excellent levels.

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
OVERALL

Samsung 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 NX ED OIS II i-Function Zoom Lens Specifications

ManufacturerSamsung
General
Lens Mounts
  • Samsung NX
Lens
Focal Length18mm - 55mm
Angle of View28.7 - 75.9
Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/5.6
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size58mm
35mm equivalent27mm - 82.5mm
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus28cm
StabilisedYes
Construction
BladesNo Data
Elements12
Groups9
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens caps, Lens Hood
Dimensions
Weight198g
HeightNo Data

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