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Samsung S 16-50mm f/2-2.8 ED OIS Lens Review

Samsung S 16-50mm f/2-2.8 ED OIS Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the premium Samsung 'S' series 16-50mm f/2-2.8 ED OIS lens for Samsung NX cameras.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Samsung S 16-50mm f/2.8 ED OIS
Price : £1,080
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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Samsung S 16 50mm F2 8 ED OIS Lens (2)
This standard zoom lens for Samsung NX mirrorless cameras sports a fast f/2-2.8 variable maximum aperture, optical image stabilisation and costs around £1080. In this review we'll take a look at how this lens performs.

Samsung S 16-50mm f/2-2.8 ED OIS Handling and Features

Samsung S 16 50mm F2 8 ED OIS Lens With Hood
This is an interesting lens, in that Samsung have opted to go for an f/2-2.8 variable aperture, rather than the usual constant f/2.8 through the zoom range. As a result of the fast maximum aperture, the lens is quite bulky and large, having a diameter of 81mm, although it isn't overly heavy, weighing 622g. As a result, this lens will probably not make the best combination with some of Samsung's more compact NX bodies. When combined with the Samsung NX30 body used for testing, the pairing feels quite lens-heavy, even though the NX30 has a substantial finger grip. This lens also includes an iFunction button, to allow quick access to a selection of camera or lens adjustments.

Autofocus is very quick and virtually silent, locking onto static subjects almost instantly. The manual focusing ring has a smooth action and is well damped, which makes applying fine focus adjustments relatively straightforward. Strangely, full time manual focus doesn't appear to be possible, with autofocus having to be disengaged via the switch on the lens to be able to apply manual adjustments. Closest focus is 30cm, which is fairly typical for a lens of this focal range.

Samsung S 16 50mm F2 8 ED OIS Lens (1)
A 72mm filter thread is supplied, which does not rotate during focusing. This makes the lens ideal for use with graduated or polarising filters. High quality plastics have been used for much of the lens' construction and the lens mount is metal, which helps to convey an overall impression of good build quality.

With care, sharp images can be taken hand-held at 50mm with a shutter speed of 1/10sec around half the time, which is around four stops slower than the usual rule of thumb would allow.

Samsung S 16 50mm F2 8 ED OIS Lens Rear

Samsung S 16-50mm f/2-2.8 ED OIS Performance

At 16mm, sharpness is already excellent in the centre of the frame at maximum aperture, with performance towards the edges of the frame being good. Stopping down improves clarity across the frame, with peak performance being realised between f/4 and f/5.6 at this focal length.

With the lens zoomed to 28mm, sharpness remains excellent in the centre of the frame at maximum aperture, and performance towards the edges of the frame actually improves to very good levels. As is the case at 16mm, peak performance is realised with the aperture stopped down to between f/4 and f/5.6 for this focal length.

Finally, at 50mm, overall performance at maximum aperture drops off fairly noticeably, with sharpness in the centre being good, and towards the edges the lens only delivers fairly good clarity. Stopping down improves sharpness in the centre of the frame dramatically, reaching outstanding levels at f/4, but it takes until f/8 until performance towards the edges of the frame exceeds good levels towards the edges of the frame.

MTF@16mm
MTF@16mm
MTF@28mm
MTF@28mm
MTF@50mm
MTF@50mm

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 NX30 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are quite prevalent throughout the zoom range. At their strongest level, they exceed 1.25 pixel widths, at 16mm and maximum aperture, which may become visible, especially along high contrast areas towards the edges of the frame.

CA@16mm
CA@16mm
CA@28mm
CA@28mm
CA@50mm
CA@50mm

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 NX30 using Imatest.

Given the fast maximum aperture, falloff of illumination towards the corners is incredibly well controlled. At 16mm and f/2 the corners are only 0.858 stops darker than the image centre and at 50mm the corners are only 0.5 stops darker than the centre. Visually uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down to f/5.6 throughout the zoom range.

Distortion is well controlled for a lens of this focal range. At 16mm 3.26% barrel distortion is present, and this is reduced to 1.1% with the lens zoomed to 50mm. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, so applying corrections in image editing software afterwards should be fairly straightforward.

A deep petal shaped hood is supplied with the lens, which does an excellent job of shielding the optics from extraneous light that may cause issues with flare.

Samsung S 16-50mm f/2-2.8 ED OIS Sample Photos


Value For Money

With this lens being fairly unique in its maximum aperture and focal range, and not many third-party options being available for the Samsung NX system, it is difficult to find price comparisons for this lens. The price seems about right, when compared to lenses sporting a constant f/2.8 aperture available for APS-C DSLRs. For example, Nikon's AF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 is available for around £1050.

Samsung S 16-50mm f/2-2.8 ED OIS Verdict

On paper, this is a very interesting lens from Samsung, and it doesn't get any less interesting when it's performance is scrutinised either, which may be of concern to those looking to spend over £1000 on this lens. Sharpness is excellent in the centre at fast apertures from the wide end of the zoom, but unfortunately there is a noticeable drop off in sharpness at 50mm. Levels of chromatic aberrations are high enough to be a cause of concern for some, especially at 16mm and f/2. The large size of this lens may also be counter intuitive to some, who have invested in the Samsung NX system to save size and weight.

Even with a few concerns about how this lens performs and handles, it is still capable of delivering excellent quality images. It is well built and carries a price in line with other similar high end lenses. Some people will absolutely love it, but I doubt anyone will really truly hate it.


 
 
  The Samsung S 16-50mm f/2-2.8 ED OIS lens is capable of delivering excellent quality images and is well built.
 

Samsung S 16-50mm f/2-2.8 ED OIS Pros

Excellent sharpness in the centre at maximum aperture between 16mm and 28mm
Excellent sharpness when stopped down
Very good build quality
Fast silent autofocus
Effective stabiliser
Low distortion

Samsung S 16-50mm f/2-2.8 ED OIS Cons

May be too bulky for the most compact NX system cameras
CA levels on the high side
Drop in sharpness at 50mm compared to the rest of the zoom range

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Samsung S 16-50mm f/2-2.8 ED OIS Specifications

ManufacturerSamsung
General
Lens Mounts
  • Samsung NX
Lens
Focal Length16mm - 50mm
Angle of View24.6 - 77
Max Aperturef/2 - f/2.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size72mm
35mm equivalent31.4mm - 82.6mm
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus30cm
StabilisedYes
Construction
Blades9
Elements18
Groups12
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens hood and pouch
Dimensions
Weight622g
Height96.5mm

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Comments


josa 2 25 Czech Republic
15 May 2014 9:49AM
Agree, too expensive, heavy and bulky...I have NX camera but I won't be buying this lens for sure. Samsung won the bragging rights so what? Zoom with constant f 2.8 would do the job perfectly!

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Ahaios 1
15 May 2014 1:15PM
Interesting proposition, a true niche product which as a non-Samsung shooter makes absolutely no sense to me.

Personally I would expect Samsung to offer first:

1) A well priced 20-50mm f2.8, compact enough to match the NX bodies as a step up of the very good 20-50mm f3.5-5.6
or
2) A 16ish-50mm f2.8 to attract potential buyers who chose competitors due to lack of fast mid-range zooms.

I am sure they know better their customers yet I don't understand where they are going with this business.

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