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Samsung 30mm f/2 NX Pancake Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the compact Samsung 30mm f/2 NX Pancake Lens for the Samsung NX system. Find out how it performs in our review.

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Handling and Features

Samsung 30mm Pancake Lens

This compact pancake lens sports an unusually fast f/2 maximum aperture and can be picked up for around £230. On an NX system camera, this lens provides an angle of view similar to a 45mm lens on a 35mm camera, making this an ideal choice as a standard lens.

Samsung 30mm f/2 NX Pancake Handling and Features

Samsung 30mm Pancake Lens With Samsung Nx20
Pairing this slim and light lens with the Samsung NX20 body used for testing creates a nice compact, if not quite pocket-able combination. Weighing only 85g and protruding by only 21.5mm it certainly fits the description of a pancake optic.

Autofocus is fairly snappy, although sometimes a little vague, struggling to get an accurate lock occasionally, even on relatively high contrast subjects. The manual focusing ring has a smooth action and is well damped, which makes applying fine focus adjustments relatively straightforward. Closest focus is 25cm, which allows you to get close enough for frame filling shots or for worry-free shooting in cramped environments.

A 43mm 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 decent build quality.

Samsung 30mm Pancake Lens

Samsung 30mm f/2 NX Pancake Performance

Typically for a pancake lens, sharpness in the centre of the frame approaches excellent levels at maximum aperture, but the clarity towards the edges of the frame lags behind somewhat and can only be described as fair.

MTF at 30mm
MTF at 30mm

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 NX20 using Imatest.

Stopping down improves clarity in the centre of the frame, peaking at f/4, where sharpness is outstanding. Unfortunately, clarity towards the edges doesn't start to catch up until the lens is stopped down to f/5.6 or beyond.

CA at 30mm
CA at 30mm

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 NX20 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are well controlled, with extremely low levels recorded at wider apertures. This low level of CA increases as the aperture is stopped down, but still doesn't reach the point where fringing may be an issue, even at f/22.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is also remarkably well controlled for a lens with such a bright maximum aperture. At f/2 the corners are only 0.5 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down to f/2.8.

Virtually no distortion is present in images taken with this lens. Imatest could only detect 0.0196% barrel distortion.

Contrast is good with this lens and no issues with flare were encountered during testing, even in images with the sun close the the edges of the frame.

Samsung 30mm f/2.0 NX Pancake Sample Photos

Value for Money

Samsung currently have a virtual monopoly on lenses for their NX system, as there are very few third party manufactures producing lenses for their cameras.

The price of around £230 seems very reasonable given that this lens has an unusually bright maximum aperture for a pancake lens.

Samsung 30mm f/2 NX Pancake Verdict

This lens delivers decent performance at a reasonable price. The unusually bright f/2 maximum aperture is a real bonus, extending the low light capabilities of your NX system camera.

It's a shame the clarity towards the edges of the frame isn't up to the high levels seen in the centre of the frame. If edge to edge sharpness is required, ensure the lens is stopped down to f/5.6 or beyond for best results.
  The Samsung 30mm f/2 Pancake lens extends the low light capabilities of the NX system at a good price.

Samsung 30mm f/2 NX Pancake Pros

Very good sharpness in the centre
Good build quality
Lightweight and compact
Almost zero distortion
Low CA

Samsung 30mm f/2 NX Pancake Cons

Lower sharpness towards edges of the frame
Occasional issues with autofocus locking onto a subject.


Samsung 30mm f/2.0 NX Pancake Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Samsung NX
Focal Length30mm
Angle of View50.2
Max Aperturef/2
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size43mm
35mm equivalent46.2mm
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus25cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens stand, Lens Case, Manual

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josa 10 25 Czech Republic
4 Sep 2012 7:16PM
This is more than a "decent performance," better than Olympus!
5 Sep 2012 3:28PM
you might got a decentered copy
look at the two photo shoot at f6.3 and f4. especially the f4 one. look at the right edge, very sharp, but the left edge very soft.
you are shooting from very far distance. There is no issue with shallow DOF. everything should be in focus.
so I think you got a bad copy.
hannu108 11 1 United Kingdom
9 Oct 2012 7:09AM
The results with the cameras distortion correction OFF are quite much sharper than that of having it ON. It is found in tests before. I wonder how it was set in this test?

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