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Samsung 20mm f/2.8 NX iFunction Pancake Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the ultra compact Samsung 20mm f/2.8 NX iFunction Pancake lens for Samsung NX compact system cameras.

|  Samsung 20mm f/2.8 NX iFunction Pancake in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and features
Samsung 20mm f/2.8 NX iFunction Pancake

This 20mm pancake lens for Samsung NX series cameras sports a bright f/2.8 maximum aperture, compact and lightweight design and offers a field of view equivalent to a 30.8mm lens on a 35mm camera.

This lens also supports Samsung's iFunction feature, where a button on the lens can be customised to provide quick access to various commonly adjusted settings.

Samsung 20mm f/2.8 NX iFunction Pancake Handling and features

Being a pancake lens, this 20mm optic is compact and lightweight, which makes the Samsung NX11 body used for testing almost pocketable.

Samsung 20mm f/2.8 NX iFunction Pancake

The lens barrel is constructed from high quality plastics with a glossy finish. A blue ring around the lens finishes off the appearance well and the lens mount is made of metal, which is resssuring.

Samsung 20mm f/2.8 NX iFunction Pancake

A narrow focusing ring, located at the front of the lens isn't too loose, or stiff, and is well enough damped to make manual focus adjustments easy to apply. This ring can also be used in conjunction with the iFunction button, although due to the small size of the lens it can be easy for fingers to accidentally get in the way of the lens, depending how careful you are.

Auto focus is brisk, locking onto subjects very quickly in all manner of lighting conditions. The 43mm filter thread does not rotate during focusing, which makes this lens ideal for use with polarising and graduated filters.

Samsung 20mm f/2.8 NX iFunction Pancake Performance

At maximum aperture, sharpness in the centre of the image area is already very good, although the clarity towards the edges of the frame lags behind somewhat, just reaching fair levels of sharpness.

Stopping the lens down improves sharpness across the frame until f/4 and the clarity towards the edges of the frame continues to improve until the lens is stopped down to f/8. Resolution towards the edges is good between f/4 and f/8.

Resolution at 20mm
Resolution at 20mm

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.

Chromatic aberrations are relatively high for a lens of this type. Fringing exceeds one pixel width in area at apertures of f/8 and below, which may become visible in high contrast areas towards the edges of the frame.

Chromatic aberration at 20mm
Chromatic aberration at 20mm

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.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is well controlled for a lens with an f/2.8 maximum aperture. The corners are only 0.768 stops darker than the image centre at f/2.8 and visually uniform illumination is achieved at apertures of f/4 or beyond.

Distortion is also very well controlled, with only 0.231% pincushion distortion detected by Imatest. This mild distortion shouldn't pose too many issues for general photography. If absolutely straight lines are paramount, you'll be glad to discover that the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make corrections easy to apply in image editing software afterwards.

Flare isn't an issue with this lens and contrast levels hold up well when shooting into the light.

Samsung 20mm f/2.8 NX iFunction Pancake Sample Photos

Value for Money

This lens is avaialble for around £235 at the time of writing, which is reasonable when compared to similar lenses available for Sony NEX and Micro Four Thirds cameras. Currently no third party optics are available for the Samsung NX system, so there are no other options at this focal length available at this moment in time.

Samsung 20mm f/2.8 NX iFunction Pancake Verdict

The compact size of pancake lenses leads to some restraints in optical design, which can be seen in the lower sharpness towards the edges of the frame. Still, for the price this lens offer decent performance in a compact size, which is what is required of a pancake lens after all.

  The Samsung 20mm pancake lens offer decent performance in a compact size with good value for money.

Samsung 20mm f/2.8 NX iFunction Pancake Pros

Decent optical performance in the centre
Low distortion
Low falloff
Good build quality

Samsung 20mm f/2.8 NX iFunction Pancake Cons

Performance not nearly as good towards the edges of the frame
High CA levels towards the edges when the lens is stopped down beyond f/8


Samsung 20mm f/2.8 NX iFunction Pancake Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Samsung NX
Focal Length20mm
Angle of View70.2
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size43mm
35mm equivalent30.8mm
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min FocusNo Data
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens stand, Lens Case, Manual
HeightNo Data

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