Samsung 16-50mm f/2-2.8 S OIS on NX30

Samsung 16-50mm f/2-2.8 S OIS on NX30

Does this premium Samsung S lens stand up to ZEISS, Canon L, and premium Nikkor glass?

The lens is premium build quality, using thick, but light and durable, metal alloy. It uses full weather sealing with mount gasket, well damped zoom and focus/i-Function ring, quality switches for selecting OIS, AF/MF, and i-Function button. This is a huge step up in build quality from any other Samsung lens, although the 85mm is close.

The hood is a plastic material and not the highest quality, but very solid and positive locking. It is easier to use than many hoods I have used, and functions as it should. Nothing special here, but not bad either.

The lens is a portly 622 g, with a whopping 18 elements in 12 groups. It is loaded with special elements including 3 aspherical elements, 2 extra-low dispersion elements, and 2 extreme high refractive index lenses. It has a minimum focus distance of 0.3 m with a max magnification of 0.19x. It uses 9 rounded blades for a mostly circular aperture at any setting. The 72 mm filter threads are pretty standard.

The lens is inner focus so it doesn’t change length as it focuses, but it does change length for zooming. The focus motor is quick and quiet.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
16 mm hood 16 mm
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
50 mm

Optical Performance

16 mm

NX1650f228S_16mm_files001
NX1650f228S_16mm_files002
SAM_2537_16 mm_0.4 sec at f - 5.6_YBR52_18_multi_cpp
NX1650f228S_16mm_files003
SAM_2638
SAM_2636
SAM_2637
SAM_2641
SAM_2639
SAM_2640
MTF20 Chart maxes at vertical resolution of the sensor which is 3648 LW/PH for NX30. Anything above that is meaningless. The MTF50 chart is set at the value where the best lenses perform in the center, or about 2850 LW/PH on the NX30.
Note: 4k video is 2160 LW/PH
Note: HD video is 1080 LW/PH

20 mm

NX1650f228S_20mm_files001
NX1650f228S_20mm_files002
SAM_2562_20 mm_0.4 sec at f - 5.6_YBR52_18_multi_cpp
NX1650f228S_20mm_files003
SAM_2638
SAM_2636
SAM_2637
SAM_2641
SAM_2639
SAM_2640
MTF20 Chart maxes at vertical resolution of the sensor which is 3648 LW/PH for NX30. Anything above that is meaningless. The MTF50 chart is set at the value where the best lenses perform in the center, or about 2850 LW/PH on the NX30.
Note: 4k video is 2160 LW/PH
Note: HD video is 1080 LW/PH

35 mm

NX1650f228S_35mm_files001
NX1650f228S_35mm_files002
SAM_2586_35 mm_0.4 sec at f - 5.6_YBR51_18_multi_cpp
NX1650f228S_35mm_files003
SAM_2638
SAM_2636
SAM_2637
SAM_2641
SAM_2639
SAM_2640
MTF20 Chart maxes at vertical resolution of the sensor which is 3648 LW/PH for NX30. Anything above that is meaningless. The MTF50 chart is set at the value where the best lenses perform in the center, or about 2850 LW/PH on the NX30.
Note: 4k video is 2160 LW/PH
Note: HD video is 1080 LW/PH

50 mm

NX1650f228S_50mm_files001
NX1650f228S_50mm_files002
SAM_2609_50 mm_0.5 sec at f - 5.6_YBR51_18_multi_cpp
NX1650f228S_50mm_files003
SAM_2630
SAM_2628
SAM_2629
SAM_2631
SAM_2634
SAM_2633
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SAM_2645
MTF20 Chart maxes at vertical resolution of the sensor which is 3648 LW/PH for NX30. Anything above that is meaningless. The MTF50 chart is set at the value where the best lenses perform in the center, or about 2850 LW/PH on the NX30.
Note: 4k video is 2160 LW/PH
Note: HD video is 1080 LW/PH

Comments on the Results

The MTF 20 characteristics of this lens are very typical for a large aperture zoom, and the lens is very sharp across most of the frame. It is only in the corners where the resolution takes a big drop, and this is largely from field curvature. I will discuss field curvature more after my writeup.

The lens is best treated as an f/2.8 lens, although 16 mm f/2 is acceptable for central subjects, performance improves a lot by f/2.8. Due to the field curvature, focus on the subject you want in focus or for landscapes shoot at f/7.1 or f/8 and set the focus point near “rule of thirds” points slightly away from center. If you are a looking for a lens sharp across the frame at f/2.8 with a flat focus field, this is not it.

Distortion is pretty noticeable at 16 mm at 2.3% barrel. It is worth noting this is after lens corrections, so if you shoot with a program that doesn’t correct these it will be noticeably more (and wider field of view). Distortion turns to pincushion a little before 35mm and reaches a barely noticeable 0.6% by 50 mm.

Astigmatism: This is what kills corner performance, so real world performance might look a little better than charts would indicate in the corners, but it might cause some radial smearing near the corners.

Lateral CA: is very strong at 16 mm and slowly disappears by 50 mm. However, this is easily correctable in most programs. Even though it is “off the chart” one click of a button in Lightroom will remove it.

Longitudinal CA: virtually none. Didn’t think I would ever say that about an f/2-2.8 zoom without fine German optics.

Flare resistance: It is an f/2.8 zoom lens. that is you will see significant flare if you shoot into the sun, although not terrible for the class. Occasionally, ghosting of elements/diaphragm are visible and large streaks if shooting into sun.

Field curvature: Severe, visible at all focal lengths.

Focus performance: Quick and very accurate. After shooting a 3 weddings with it I find it focuses more reliably than the 85mm f/1.4. It also has an easier job with much deeper depth of field. Focus is fast, but not lighting quick. It definitely gives a slight preference to precision.

Measured Focal length at 16 mm and 1:53 is about 17.5 mm (most 18-55mm lenses would be 19 or 20).
Measured Focal length at 50 mm and 1:53 is about 50 mm.

Pros and Cons

Field Curvature

The charts below are very approximate, and just to show idea behind field curvature. The first chart shows the in focus area roughly highlighted, notice how it curves.
SAM_2646_dof
This second chart shows the actual focus point at the yellow X in the center. If we run a from the edge of the frame through the yellow X, we will see that the left and right sides will be out of focus. The green line with X to the left shows a flat object which could be totally in focus in this region, slightly softer in the center then a line through the yellow X would be, but sharper on the edges for better across the field sharpness. In order to achieve this focus, we could focus about where the X is on the green line instead of in the center of the green line (which would pull the yellow X up to the center of the green line and the corners would be out of focus). However, if we are shooting landscapes, if scenery comes toward the camera at the edge of the frame, some field curvature really isn’t noticeable, and can actually be helpful.
SAM_2646_focalPoint

Effective Resolution 16 mm

HD Video = 2 MP, 4k Video = 8 MP

Aperture Weighted Center Partway Corner
f/2
10 MP
13 MP
7.7 MP
4.9 MP
f/5.6
16.2 MP
20+ MP
13.8 MP
7.9 MP

Effective Resolution 20 mm

Aperture Weighted Center Partway Corner
f/2.2
11.5 MP
14.7 MP
9.5 MP
4.3 MP
f/5.6
16.6 MP
20+ MP
15.2 MP
7.2 MP

Effective Resolution 35 mm

Aperture Weighted Center Partway Corner
f/2.8
13.8 MP
16.3 MP
12.6 MP
7 MP
f/5.6
17.6 MP
19.1 MP
18.7 MP
8.6 MP

Effective Resolution 50 mm

Aperture Weighted Center Partway Corner
f/2.8
11.8 MP
13.5 MP
11.3 MP
6.4 MP
f/5.6
17.8 MP
18.8 MP
19.4 MP
9 MP

Bottom Line

The lens is not perfect, it has some field curvature and extreme corner issues, but is excellent for what it does. I have shot several weddings with mine now and have been very happy with overall performance. It focuses quickly, it can deliver in both landscape situations, and is absolutely stunning for people photos. No worries shooting at any aperture for people, but to be happy with landscapes shoot f/7.1 or higher to get great results across the frame.

An extremely nice characteristic is this lens has no longitudinal CA at 50mm (where you will probably shoot most of your portraits). That bears repeating. The out of focus highlights have virtually no magenta/cyan fringing, which also means blissfully free of purple fringing from an f/2.8 zoom. That is impressive!

The 16-50mm S maintains its performance over 90% of the frame, which is what makes it so great. It is really only the extreme corners which are weaker, and even those aren’t bad as long as you step down to f/7.1. This makes it an excellent multi-purpose lens.

I recommend this lens for event and portrait photography or other shallow depth of field from multi-purpose zoom, as well as for landscapes where you don’t want to carry the smaller primes and want convenience of a zoom, but you do need to shoot at smaller apertures, f/7.1 is pretty ideal for the 20 MP sensor. So far this lens is 100 times better in the 30-50mm range of my 16-50mm power zoom. At 16mm the difference isn’t as much.

Please help support continued reviews and buy through affiliate links, no extra cost to you:
Buy on BHPhoto: Samsung 16-50mm f/2-2.8 S ED OIS Lens
Buy on Amazon: Samsung NX 16-50mm f/2.0-2.8 S Series Zoom Camera Lens with OIS and UPSM (Black)

Gallery

Default light room settings from RC 5.5.

The gallery images are © 2014 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 go to Zenfolio, to download full size images click on an image, hover over an image, and hover over menu, download, and click all originals.

Disclaimer: I am employed by Samsung Semiconductor, Inc, for work unrelated to cameras. I bought into Samsung NX before my employment started with SSI and all the camera gear I have reviewed was purchased with my money (unless otherwise specified). Some of the later gear I get for a slight discount (more like street price) when it is new.

3 Comments

  1. […] Samsung 16-50mm f/2-2.8 S OIS on NX30 Samsung 16-50mm f/2-2.8 S OIS on NX30 : ERPhotoReview […]

  2. Michael Pfau says:

    Hi Eric.
    As Always good job.I just bought this lens and find the results richer and have more depth

    than the 16-50 PZ, which is a good lens.

    Have you tried PhotoNinja? I find the results superior to LR.

    There is a CA feature that really works very well. If you haven’t tried it I think you will be

    surprised. Also PN will support the NX1 after it is released.

    Thanks again, Michael Pfau

  3. tecnoworld says:

    Great review, as always. I love this lens, even if I find it a bit heavy for regular use. I never tested it scientifically, but I thought the resolution were a bit higher, based on my experience.