Review Samsung NX 16-50 mm f/3.5-5.6 Power Zoom ED OIS
|A super-compact and super-light, all-around zoom for Samsung APS-C format cameras, and one that is especially suited for filming with—that is the new Samsung NX 16-50 mm OIS power zoom lens. Simple, light, compact, sleek, useful. And the 16 mm focal length is quite unique, since you get much more on a photo with it than with a regular 18-55 mm kit lens. The power zoom is also ideal for those who would like to make video recordings with an NX500, since this lens fits perfectly in terms of size and weight with this camera, and thanks to the built-in stepper motor, it zooms smoothly and practically silently. And that is important for video. We tested it on a Samsung NX1, because with 28 megapixels, it places the highest demands on the lens. How is the optical performance?|
Compact power zoom with constant length
|This sleekly designed lens has a length of just 31 mm from the mount: it is not a “pancake” but it does resemble one. Even so, it has the “standard” zoom range of 24 to 75 mm in 35 mm-equivalent. The brightness is not ground-breaking, with f/3.5 in wide-angle to f/5.6 in telephoto, but this is also more or less the norm for a consumer lens. The lens is feather-light, due to the use of plastic and light-weight lens parts (111 g), and especially in combination with a compact camera without a viewfinder, you have a great set that you can take everywhere. With the i-function, you use the focusing ring for other tasks. The advantage with that is that you do not have to hold the camera in front of your eye, and you do not have to scroll through any menus. You do have to learn to work with it before you can take full advantage of it. The filter size is 43 mm, a standard size for Samsung.|
Build and auto focus
Everything on this lens works electronically; there is no zoom ring, but a zoom switch; a motor moves the lens. The focusing is also done electronically, “by wire” as it is called today. Even when you focus manually with the focus ring, the lens elements move by motor. It feels a bit “rubbery”. The focusing takes place internally; the front lens does not turn, and it does not come forward. The advantage of that is that you get smooth operation when filming, without shocks and nearly without sound. It is also much easier to hold the camera still when working by hand. An additional advantage is that the lens does not draw in any air (and hence no dust) inside during focusing and zooming. This is in contrast in particular with extending lenses; those are real air pumps! The lens has 9 lens elements (of which 4 are ED glass) in 8 groups, and 7 aperture blades (an odd number, which reduces “star formation”). The shortest distance setting runs from 7 cm (wide angle) to 24 cm (telephoto).
Vignetting, distortion and chromatic aberration
Vignetting and distortion are automatically corrected, both in jpg files that are stored in the camera and in RAW files that you open with an Adobe program or with the included Samsung RAW converter. This method is being used by ever-more manufacturers and is just as accurate as the use of lens correction profiles, with which you can automatically correct lens errors in Photoshop or Lightroom. If you open the Samsung RAW files in another RAW converter, then there is the chance that you will encounter visible distortion and vignetting. You see that in the scores for distortion and vignetting for RAW files and jpg files in the conclusion section.
Chromatic aberration: We can be brief about that, as it is barely observable.
Your editor on test location in Rotterdam. We got to head out with two bodies and a whole box of Samsung lenses. Spoiled!
The lens elements of the Samsung 16-50 mm Power zoom are relatively small in comparison with wide-angle lenses for an SLR camera. That means that, for a wide-angle lens, this lens is not very sensitive to flare and ghosts as a result of backlighting—but not entirely insensitive. On the photo above, you see a purplish backlighting artifact in the upper right corner. You have to order a lens hood separately, and we would recommend doing so.
The Samsung 16-50 power zoom delivers an image quality that corresponds with that of most other kit lenses, such as, for example, the Samsung 18-55 mm kit lens. On the four bar graphs above, you see the resolution at different focal distances. It is clear that the corner sharpness (the red bars) leaves something to be desired in comparison with the very high center sharpness (thanks to the 28 megapixels of the Samsung NX1 test camera). To get good corner sharpness, you have to stop down to f/11, and then the center sharpness decreases as a result of diffraction. For a consumer zoom, this is acceptable. For the best result, you’re best off turning to the larger, heavier and especially more expensive 16-50 f/2-2.8.
The two bar graphs on the right show distortion and vignetting in jpg, so after the automatic correction has been applied. Great result.
|On APS-C cameras, the focal depth is always larger than on a full-frame. And with a not-very bright lens like this 16-50 f/3.5-5.6, that focal depth just increases. If you are going for attractive, softly blurred backgrounds, then you are better off with the—much more expensive—16-50 f/2-2.8. Even so, we made a few series at full aperture in order to check the bokeh. You can see the result on these pictures. There are some white rings visible here are there, but the result is quite reasonable.
Conclusion Samsung NX 16-50 mm f/3.5-5.6 Power Zoom ED OIS review with Samsung NX1
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, where you have applied all available in-camera lens corrections. 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 if the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. If you make use of Photoshop or Lightroom for the conversion of RAW files, then the RAW scores are the same as the jpg scores.
This Samsung NX 16-50 mm f/3.5-5.6 Power Zoom ED OIS is not really a “pancake”, like the 30 mm Samsung pancake and the 16 mm pancake that we reviewed previously. But in combination with an NX model without a viewfinder, you have a very nice and portable set. The power zoom is a bonus when you film a lot. The optical performance is good for a lens of this price level.