Review Samsung NX 16-50 mm f/2-2.8
The Samsung 16-50 mm f/2-2.8 ED OIS is a very bright zoom lens with Samsung's own NX mount. It is a lens with an all-around zoom range, but not comparable with the standard 18-55 kit lens. This is a top lens, in terms of brightness and in terms of optical and mechanical quality, and it has a corresponding price tag. Together with the Sigma 18-35 mm f/1.8 (a bit brighter, but with less zoom range), this 16-50 mm towers over the competition when it comes to bright standard zooms. This is a perfect companion for the Samsung NX1, Samsung's first professional system camera. We reviewed a copy on the NX30, the mid-range mirrorless camera with a 20-megapixel APS-C sensor.
Samsung NX 16-50 mm f/2-2.8 + Samsung NX30
|From the design of the Samsung 16-50 mm f/2-2.8, it appears that multiple high-quality glass types are applied in order to get the highest possible sharpness with as few color flaws as possible.|
The Samsung 16-50 mm f/2-2.8 is equipped with iFn technology—with which you can set the various functions via the distance ring—, a super-fast focus motor and built-in image stabilization. The 16-50 is certainly not a wee slip of a thing: it's 96 mm long and weighs 620 grams. The lens has three aspherical elements, two ED and two HR elements. There is a large, non-turning front lens, lens mount 72 mm. The finish is outstanding, although there's no rubber sealing ring on the mount. As the only other minimal flaw, we note that the red dot for the correct mounting of the lens is really quite small. The image stabilization can be switched off and has only one setting. There is a switch to change between MF and M/A.
The lens also has an iFn press button. Samsung's iFn technology means that if you hold the iFn button pressed in, the distance ring on a lens can be used for other functions such as ISO setting or for aperture or shutter speed preference. The idea is that, due to the automatic focusing, you practically never use the distance ring for its original purpose.
Manual focusing is mechanical, the run of the rubber distance ring is great and the annoying slowness that you find with many focus-by-wire focus systems is absent. For autofocus, the lens has a fast stepper motor.
The documentation talks about a motor with greatly improved precision; we assume that this means that there's a counter built in that measures the lens movement, a feedback control loop. The focus speed is high but of course also depends on the body used. We measure 0.3 seconds in our standard test on the NX30. It's more important how the focusing works in low light. The great brightness of this lens guarantees a good result.
Vignetting of this lens is, at all focal distances, very limited. Given the uniquely high brightness (f/2 at 16 mm to f/2.8 at 50 mm), that's a very good performance.
An autumn picture. 1/200 second at f/8 at setting 50 mm, ISO 200.
One of the few points on which you can criticize this lens is the distortion, particularly in the wide-angle setting. The photo here was made at a setting of 16 mm. The light pole is as curved as a hula hoop, but in reality is perfectly straight (1/2500 f3.5). The NX30 body that we use for the test does not correct for distortion, the NX1 does, which makes a significant improvent. With the NX30 ou're dependent on an editing program if you wish to correct for distortion.
With the Samsung NX30, you get Photoshop Lightroom for free; with that the correction skewing is possible via "lens corrections." In Lightroom, there are multiple correction profiles for Samsung lenses, but the lens profile of this 16-50 mm was not (yet) included as a standard.
With backlighting (sun in the lens), the lens is not free from flare and ghosts, as shown in the photo here. That applies for practically all bright standard zoom lenses as well as for a large number of bright lenses with a fixed focal point. A sun cap is then no unnecessary luxury.
We were not able to document chromatic aberration.
Samsung NX 16-50 mm f/2-2.8: High sharpness
Here, the 16-50 mm puts its best foot forward. The resolution is exceptionally good, even in the corners. Only at the largest lens opening (f/2-2.8), the corner sharpness lags behind a bit. Using the Samsung NX1, with its 28 megapixel sensor, we reached even higher resolution numbers than with the 20 megapixel NX20. Impressive. There are not many APS-C lenses that can deliver such quality.
Samsung NX 16-50 mm f/2-2.8 @ 40 mm, 1/500 at f/8.
The bokeh of this lens is simply beautiful. Due to the large maximum lens opening (with its associated limited focal depth), you can take lovely product shots. The lens is also suitable for portraits.
Conclusion Samsung NX 16-50 mm f/2-2.8 review with Samsung NX30
|Look in our list of reviewed lenses to compare the performance of this lens with other lenses.
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you save the files in the camera as jpg 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".