Samsung 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II i-Fn

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.

Optical Characteristics

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.

18mm

Corrected 18mm

Uncorrected 18mm

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35mm

Corrected 35mm

Uncorrected 35mm

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55mm

Corrected 55mm

Uncorrected 55mm

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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

Bottom Line

Good performance across the range, built in OIS, fair build quality, not much to dislike for an inexpensive kit lens. Only issue is it really isn’t much smaller than a DSLR kit lens of similar specs, but this performs along with the better kit lenses so it doesn’t give up anything. As a personal note I prefer the Bokeh and compact size of the 20-50mm lens, but you give up OIS, and the filter might not be as convenient. This lens looks a bit better at the corners than the 20-50mm at longer focal lengths. Buy from Adorama to support the site.

Gallery

The gallery images are © 2011 Eric Tastad, and may only be used for personal evaluation of the lenses. Please visit the gallery on Zenfolio where you can download original sized images.

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