Samsung 12-24mm f/4-5.6 ED on NX20

Samsung 12-24mm f/4-5.6 ED on NX20

With mirrorless cameras perforating the market, a new type of lens is available: a compact ultra wide angle. How good is it?

This new Samsung 12-24mm f/4-5.6 is a relatively compact ultra-wide, being no larger than the Samsung 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, and even uses the same 58mm filters. This is impressive for an ultrawide lens, which usually use 72 or 77mm filters even with similar apertures and in some cases can’t use filters because of a prohibitively curved front element. These lenses often use large hoods as well that take up a lot of space in the lens bag.

This class of lens is also usually quite expensive. The Samsung is $600 US which is in line with what Sigma would ask. Build quality is fair and matches with the price. It is a bit better than the 18-55mm kit, offering some metal on the barrel around the mount, around the front of the extending barrel, and a metal mount. The overall tightness of the lens feels better than the kit lens too.

The lens is a 10 element design with 2 aspherics and 1 ED lens, and a 7 curved bladed diaphragm. A lens like this you will rarely see bokeh circles though, since the depth of field is so deep. The lens is unbelievably light for this class, weighing in at 208 g (7.3 oz).

Optical Performance

So, how does this little lightweight perform?

12mm

16mm

20mm

24mm

Comments on the Results

The lens is excellent in the center at all settings and apertures, and good to very good in the corners at all apertures and settings.

Distortion is showing a bit of pincushion at 12mm (0.5%) and pretty neutral by 24mm. The lens natively has lots of barrel distortion at 12mm, but is slightly overcorrected (not noticeable).

Lateral CA is well controlled, but is corrected. Even uncorrected isn’t bad though.

Flare resistance is excellent for an ultra wide. I had difficulty making aperture ghosts appear, although they will occasionally. They usually can be dealt with pretty easily in post or ignored.

I measured the focal length to be 14mm based on 1:53 magnification at the wide end and 26mm at the 24mm setting. This is due to the corrections, uncorrected I measured approximately 12mm at the wide end. This isn’t a highly accurate way to measure focal length, but it is easy enough to do when I have it setup to photograph the chart.

Pros and Cons

Bottom Line

This lens is a great value. It has good performance all over, and is capable of producing great images. It is light weight, uses standard filters, and is relatively cheap. Performance is better than the excellent Tokina 12-24mm f/4 version II in general and the lens is less susceptible to flare. For landscapes, there is a bit of field curvature so I recommend focusing near the edges of the frame instead of in the center. I really don’t have anything negative to say about this lens, except I wish Samsung let us turn off distortion correction, even though it has pretty severe barrel distortion at 12mm with corrections off (must use DCRaw or similar to convert, Lightroom fixes distortions automatically). Unlike some of the recent Sony lenses, the image circle at 12mm is easily large enough for APS-C and the corners are very sharp uncorrected.

I suggest keeping it at f/7.1 most of the time and only stop down more if you really need the depth of field, performance drops off fast at f/11 and beyond. I would only use f/4 or f/5.6 if you really need the extra light. They aren’t bad, but the corners are just a bit better at f/7.1 and depth of field is good too.

Samsung 12-24mm f/4-5.6 ED Wide-Angle Zoom Lens on BHPhoto in the US to support the site.

Gallery

The gallery images are © 2012 Eric Tastad, and may only be used for personal evaluation of the lenses. Click the play button and click “visit gallery” in the upper right to download full size images.

Compared to 16mm f/2.4

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