Review Samsung 50-150 mm NX
In the middle of 2014, the Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8 S OIS was announced. This is Samsung's first bright, professional, dust- and splashwater-tight telephoto zoom with built-in image stabilization. It's equipped with some features that you don't even typically find on many professional lenses, such as Samsung HyperShield Coating (SHS) and "Custom Focus Range Limiter." The Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8 is intended to be used in combination with the Samsung NX1 and the Samsung 16-50 mm f/2-2.8. The question is naturally whether this new 50-150 mm Samsung lens with the Samsung NX1 will be able to realize the same high image quality as the 16-50 mm.
Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8 S OIS @ NX1
Illustration (with another lens): Samsung
|I function: Still more manufacturers are putting programmable, custom buttons on their cameras. You operate the camera, however, with the thumb and forefinger of your right hand. How many custom buttons can you operate with those while the left hand supports the lens? |
By placing a Custom function on the lens—Olympus does that on its professional 12-40 mm and 40-150 mm lenses, but otherwise it's a rarity—you increase the ease of use of the camera. Now the left hand also has a directly accessible custom—in Samsung terms: I-Function—button. You click on the button until you have the desired function and thereafter turn the front-most ring on the lens until you have the desired setting. For those who have been photographing for years without such a button, it takes a while before you benefit from it. Compare it with clap skates: only after you have made the technique your own will you be faster than the competition. Unless they already have a Samsung, of course.
Build and auto focus
The Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8 is heavy and solidly built, with a combination of metal and high-quality plastics. It goes without saying that this professional lens is extra-well sealed against dust and splashwater. A tripod collar, sun cap and a lens bag are included. Samsung is a South Korean brand, but to my surprise, the metal mount reads "Made in China."
In order to be able to focus even faster, bright telephoto zoom lenses usually have a switch with which you can limit the zoom range, so that the AF motor travels less. Usually, those are fixed distances to which the zoom range will be limited. We found with Sigma previously the option to choose the focus range limits ourselves. With the "Custom Focus Range Limiter," you determine the boundaries yourself. Most amateurs will not often use this, but for a professional, it can make the difference between success or missed income.
|At first glance, a zoom range of 50-150 mm sounds rather remarkable. Isn't 70-200 mm more common? On a camera with an APS-C sensor, the field of view of such a lens corresponds with the field of view of a 70-200 mm on a camera with a full-frame sensor. That is a zoom range with which you can work in many situations from wedding photography to street, vacation, and documentary photography. The choice for a 50-150 mm zoom range with a bright zoom lens saves in price and makes a two-fold difference in weight: the Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8 S OIS weighs 880 grams. A 70-200 mm f/2.8 with image stabilization weighs a kilo and a half. |
Image stabilization Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8
|This advanced stabilization fulfills, according to Samsung, at 68 mm focal length, along with the NX30 the CIPA's OIS, 4.5 Stop rule. We tested the image stabilization at a focal length of 50 mm, by multiple times at different shutter speeds with and without image stabilization taking a picture, which we then analyzed with Imatest for sharpness. From the Imatest measurements, it appears that a shot taken with image stabilization at a shutter speed of 1/6 second is less sharp than a shot taken with a shutter speed of 1/100 second without using image stabilization. That is a clear profit of 4 stops, and that is a lot in comparison with other brands. |
Vignetting is very nicely kept under control at all focal lengths. The RAW files that we opened in Lightroom had a very small amount—measurable with Imatest but not visible—more vignetting than the jpg files that were simultaneously stored in the NX1.
It doesn't make much difference, because with this lens, you will practically never have trouble with visible vignetting.
Distortion Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8 S OIS
At all focal lengths, the distortion was low, both for the RAW files that we opened in Lightroom and in the jpg files that we simultaneously saved in the camera. At 150 mm, the distortion in the RAW file was even lower than for the jpg file. For the other focal lengths, the distortion was the same. It doesn't matter much, because in practice when using the Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8, you won't have any trouble with visible distortion.
In the documentation, I did not find whether the Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8 S OIS has coated lens elements in order to prevent internal reflections. If light shines directly into the lens, then flare and ghosts are possible. Use the included sun cap where possible.
|Image excerpt from a shot made with Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8 S OIS + Samsung NX1 @ 150 mm f/2.8, 1/1000 sec, 100 ISO |
The sharpness is at full aperture already very high, even at the edges and in the corners. After stopping down 1 stop, the highest center sharpness is reached in our Imatest measurements, while it takes a bit longer to reach the maximum sharpness in the corners. In all cases, the sharpness in the center is higher than in the corners, but everything is relative. If you compare the sharpness of the Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8 on a Samsung NX1 (with a 28-megapixel sensor) in the corners with the center sharpness of some other lenses in the center, the corner sharpness of this Samsung wins. That the corner sharpness lags a bit behind the center sharpness is understandable when you look at the pixel density on the Samsung NX1: this sensor has no less than 137 line pairs per mm.
|Where the Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8 still leaves something to be desired is on the point of chromatic aberration. In the corners at sharp contrast transitions, there are blue and red edges visible. At the time of our review, there were not yet any lens profiles available in Lightroom and Photoshop. As soon as the profiles are available, chromatic aberration will also be a thing of the past for photographers who work in RAW. Correction is already possible, but manual correction is less elegant than the automatic correction with help from a lens profile. |
Bokeh Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8 S OIS
A bright telephoto zoom lens is a co-favorite for many photographers, because you can nicely isolate a subject from the environment, as in the image above. If a light source is located in the background, then that will be shown as a large circle with an edge, as in the shot of our bokeh test set-up here shows. At full aperture, the bokeh is at its best, because as soon as at f/4, the bokeh starts to take on the angular shapes of the aperture.
|Lenses with significant vignetting show cat's eye bokeh. The cat's eye bokeh in the corners can be an indication that the vignetting is more than 0.5 stops, but that the vignetting - and not the cat's eye bokeh - is corrected before you open a RAW file in Lightroom or Photoshop. |
Conclusion Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8 S OIS review with NX1
|Look in our list of reviewed lenses in order to compare the performance of this lens with other lenses. |
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you store the files in the camera in jpg format with all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
|Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens when the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. The difference is in particular visible for chromatic aberration. |
My expectations for the Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8 S OIS were, after the remarkably good review of the Samsung 16-50 mm f/2-2.8, quite high. Samsung is capable of building professional, bright lenses, that let the image quality of the 28-megapixel sensor of the NX1 come fully into its own. That showed through again. Even so, I was pleasantly surprised by the image quality that the Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8 S OIS delivers. Nobody is perfect, so the use of the sun cap with backlighting is advisable. And photographers who work in RAW can (for the time being) encounter chromatic aberration. But beyond that, the Samsung 50-150 mm f/2.8, with remarkably good image stabilization, both in terms of image quality and build quality is a purchase that you will benefit from for years as a (semi-)professional photographer.