Samsung 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II i-Fn
Samsung’s updated kit lens adds the i-Fn button, but how does it compare to the prime lenses and the 20-50mm?
The lens is typical kit lens build quality. It has a plastic mount held on with only 3 screws, a zoom ring, and an i-Function ring. Included is a reversible bayonet hood, easy to use center squeeze lens cap, but the i-Fn button comes at the expense of the OIS switch on the older version of the lens.
The lens has 12 elements in 9 groups, including 1 aspheric element. The lens also has a 7 bladed diaphragm, as most Samsung lenses seem to have. The minimum focus distance is 0.28 m (11″), and weighs 198 g (7 oz) without the hood. The filter threads don’t rotate when the lens focuses.
Samsung uses in camera correction by design with their lenses. What this means is they intentionally don’t correct all the distortion, vignetting, and lateral CA of the lens and correct it in software. The RAW file is left alone by Lightroom at this time. I shoot the chart using RAW + JPEG, and use the JPEG for the “corrected” results and the RAW for the uncorrected. JPEG settings are camera default.
Comments on the Optics
I notice that distortion is only corrected for the extreme barrel distortion at wide angles. I notice the upper focal lengths do not appear corrected. In the corrected files at the wide angles, the resolution drops slightly in the corners (even given the added sharpening in JPEG), but center performance improves. As the corners are stretched out to correct the distortion, the resolution should drop some.
Overall, corrected or not, the lens produces great results at all apertures and settings. The corners might be a bit soft at 18mm, and overall performance drops at 55mm (but fairly uniform across the frame). Almost all aperture settings perform equivalently, and there is really not much to fault with this lens.
Lateral chromatic aberrations are well controlled, but worse at wider angles. Flare is well controlled, but will show in some circumstances. The borders don’t perform that much worse than the center for the class of lens except at 18mm where they are at their weakest.
I will comment that this lens is the same optically as the version I lens, which I also tested (numbers are posted for my version II lens, but they are similar). My copy was faulty in that it wouldn’t quite focus to infinity at 55mm so I need to return it to Samsung. This evidently didn’t impact optical performance though since it tested similar to my version I which focuses fine.
Pros and Cons
- Very Good Optics
- Optical Stabilizer
- Corners at 18mm
- OIS Toggle Switch Disappeared