Review Samsung 45mm f/1.8 2D/3D NX test (aps-c)


The Samsung 45 mm f/1.8 is a bright lens with an NX mount, designed for the APS-C format system cameras of that brand. The special thing about this lens is not just that it is a relatively bright lens with a fixed focal length, but also that, with a suitable body, can make stereo photos. We reviewed the Samsung 2D/3D lens on a Samsung NX300, currently the only NX-body suitable for stereo photography. Of course, we also tested this Samsung lens as we usually do with a normal lens, so that we can make an image quality comparison with other lenses.


Samsung 45mm f/1.8 2D/3D NX @ Samsung NX 300



The lens is, by the 3D-ability, which is thicker and heavier than you might expect for maybe a fixed focal length lens. There must be room for the 'doors' in the interior, which we'll discuss more later. The design is flawless and fits seamlessly with the NX series, and there's nothing to complain about with the finish either. Very nice.
The lens features the iFn-system, with which you can control certain functions using the focusing ring. The thought behind it is that you almost never use that ring for focusing, and that you can also use the left hand for the camera operation.
Of course, there is a white and a black version.


Stereo effect with only one lens!

Stereo cameras have been around almost as long as photography. This is typically done with a camera with two lenses side by side, so those two pictures differ a bit from each other's perspectives. Also, there are sliders where you have a camera with one lens that can shift between two shots a bit to achieve the same effect. With a stereo-viewer in which each eye sees one image, you get the stereo effect.
The Samsung stereo technology uses the principle that the blurred parts of the image are a bit different when you use the left or right half of the lens. This is the same principle as in phase detection autofocus .

The 45 mm lens has a switch that allows you to (only on a NX300, not on the other NX models!) back and forth between 2D and 3D. In the 2D mode, it works just like any other lens fixed focal length lens. In the 3D mode, two transparent screens slide from the sides of the lens. Those can be made opaque electronically. By first capturing an image with the 'right' window blinded screen and then one with the 'left' window blinded, you get two shots with different perspectives. The stereo basis is obviously not great because the lens opening is less than two inches. The principle also works on film, because the screens can be changed at lightning speed (60 per second) from 'open' to 'closed' and back. The stereo effect is visible on a TV screen when using 3D glasses. The TV projects alternating the left and right images; the glasses are synchronized with the screen and allow you to watch with one eye. On the photo here, you see the two 'valves' in the lens. Using the lens in 2D mode, then those are stored in the lens housing.



In the 3D mode the NX300 saves two files for each shot: a 'normal' 2D JPEG (this turns out on closer inspection to be the left image) and a file MPO file extension. Those files you can view in 3D on a suitable television with the accompanying 3D glasses. Not on the computer! Photoshop will not open the MPO files. We tried various software programs and eventually 'cracked' the files with 'StereoPhoto Maker' (free download from There appear to be two JPEGs in each MPO file, of which the 'left' is identical to the JPEG file that the camera stores. The largest image size is 2688x1512 pixels (4.1 MP). The MPO file format is a so-called open standard, which can be used in principle by all manufacturers. Converting the two JPEGs to a 1920x1080 pixel TV picture is only done in the television. Whether the NX300 files also work in other 3D TVs than that of Samsung, we have not studied. The manual does not mention this.
The camera when shooting in 3D largely takes control. All shots are made at f/6.0. That's not a 'real' aperture, because you're only half the lens surface is used, you immediately lose a stop, and the light transmission of the doors also won't be 100%.

We photographed the electronic stopwatch on our computer screen. If you put the two JPEGs next to each other, then it turns out that the time interval between the two shots is about 30 milliseconds. See the picture in the upper right. With this brief interval, you cannot capture excessively moving subjects in stereo. We also made a shot of the lighting fixture above our workplace, with the background of a white lace curtain (on the right and bottom right). It is clear that the position of the light box compared to the folds of the curtain in the two shots is different. That difference gives the stereo effect. It is, in view of the small stereo base, only really observable for objects at close range.



Is the stereo effect for 'still-photography' worthwhile? We do not know. The picture on the TV picture looks somewhat crumbly; it is of course highly compressed because a TV screen doesn't have many image pixels. In addition, are you bound to a horizontal image format. The real profit when working in 3D is probably when filming, but that was not part of this test.



Although the attention in this lens is especially on the stereo-option, is the normal (2D) a very good standard-lens. Do note that the focal length of 45 mm (KB-equivalent 67 mm) might not be to everyone's taste: too long for an all-round lens or for landscapes, too short for a portrait lens.
The sharpness earns the score "very good" as long as it's 2-3 stops apertured. At maximum aperture only the center is really sharp. And yet even in the extreme corners at maximum aperture there's a resolution of nearly 1500 lines per picture height.


The vignetting is extremely low over the full range, and in practice as good as invisible. In the JPEG mode it's clear that some vignetting correction is applied. JPGvignet


The distortion in RAW is very noticeable, but very low in JPEG files. JPGdistortion

Chromatic aberration


The distortion in RAW is very noticeable, but very low in JPEG files.




Conclusion Samsung 45mm 3D review



See our list of tested lenses to compare the performance of this lens to other lenses.

ECWYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you store 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".
ECPure 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.




  • 3D functionality
  • Well built
  • Very bright
  • Very good optical qualityit
  • Heavily built
  • Not inexpensive
  • 3D image quality on TV-screen could be better
  • Focal length may not suit everyone
Samsung, although it's only been active in the photography market for a relatively short while, continues to appear with innovative new products. This 3D lens is an example of that. For that reason alone the brand deserves a feather in their cap. The 3D-principle works, although the image quality on a TV screen, in our view, can still be improved. We are not fully convinced of the added value of 3D in (still image) photography. Probably the effect is much more appealing in video.
With 'normal' 2D-use you have with this 45 mm f/1.8 an excellent lens with the image quality that you can expect at a fixed focal length.
Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.


Comments (1)

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A camera cannot be better than the lens that is on it, no matter how good or expensive the body is. And the Samsung 45mm lens yields images that are sharp and pretty darn close to perfect. It is among the best consumer lenses out there. It is not...

A camera cannot be better than the lens that is on it, no matter how good or expensive the body is. And the Samsung 45mm lens yields images that are sharp and pretty darn close to perfect. It is among the best consumer lenses out there. It is not to be confused with the other 45mm lens produced, the 2d/3d. This is the "normal" lens.
It focuses very well, images are very sharp. Auto-fucus works flawlessly. I use it on an NX20, and auto-focus is dependent on both the lens and the camera's auto-focus system; your results may vary depending on whether you have an older camera model or a more recent one.

Build: The lens seems to be very well built. There are no loose parts, the control ring turns smoothly, buttons work as they should. It mates well with the camera: not snug that you have to push it in, not loose that there is any tilting play. However, once locked into place, there is a little bit of turning play (where you can turn the lens' mount in relation to the camera just a little bit), but this is not something that would affect sharpness or image clarity. Mating the surfaces, and a good snug fit, is important - but the width of the tabs, so the lens doesn't rotate even slightly when you try, would have enhanced the owner's impression of quality.
Don't try this at home, but I've already dropped the ensemble a couple of times, and no damage to the lens (or the camera). In all fairness, I had a lens cap on it, which, being pushed into the threaded opening, absorbed some of the impact, but still, it this lens is not as fragile as one would fear of a lens with a plastic body.

iFn Control: like all Samsung iFn lenses, pushing the iFn button gives you immediate access to the main functions you want to change on the fly while doing your creative photography. Your Samsung camera menu, under iFn Customizing allows you to choose up to 5 out of 6 of the following features you want to appear in your sliding iFn menu: Aperture, Shutter speed, EV, ISO, WB, iZoom - the ones you have access to depend on what your mode-dial is set on (ie: P, A, S, M). This is with 2014 firmware on Samsung NX20 and the 45mm respectively. The lens has the usual switch for selecting AF and MF modes. In AF, it works as it should according to your preference settings in your camera, where you determined how you want the AF to work, ie. whether you want just auto-focus, or auto-focus with the possibility of manual override, etc.

Manual focus: the same control ring is used for the iFn menu and manual focus/MF override. Turning the focus ring gives absolutely no tactile feedback, and nothing tells you if you should turn clockwise or counter-clockwise to focus closer or farther. There is also no indication whether you have reached infinity or the closest focus: you can just keep on turning and turning, not sure where the focus is at in the scheme of things. If I am trying to photograph a small bug on a thin branch, for example, where the camera's focus system only picks up other objects in the background with auto-focus, I don't know if I am turning the ring too fast, too slow, if I have overshot the right point and should continue turning or if I should turn back the opposite way. Although technically it works flawlessly, manual focus can be a bit frustrating in sutuations like my bug on a branch. The manual focus ring is much more convenient when you are using a wide-open aperture, with a very shallow depth of field, and you just need to make fine quick adjustments - for example to bring a subject's eyes into focus, where the camera may have locked focus not exactly at the depth you wanted.

Bokeh: Bokeh is simply a side-effect of larger openings, where it becomes impossible to have everything in focus at all distances. Surprisingly, although at f1.8 the DoF is as shallow as one would expect, background defocus is not as marked as one would think. There are no huge spheres being produced in the background as with some vintage lenses or as we see from a Leica $10,000 lens - rather, focus drops off predictably as the distance increases from the focused pane. Yet the subject still "pops" out from the background. For example, shooting my dog or daughter, they are in very sharp focus, and look to separate and stand out from the background, but a background where you can still make out some fuzzy shapes. The background blur is not as significant as one might hope - although this lays testament to just how phenominally good the optics design and execution are, it might not be what eveyone would hope for (ie: less-good design for more blur).

Despite the turn-forever manual focus ring, this is an outstanding lens, which is right up there with some of the best lenses available for much more money. This lens allows my Samsung NX20 to perform at it's utmost, and I'm certain it will do the same for more recent NX cameras. It has been permanently on the camera now, as I prefer it to any of my other NX lenses. the only lens I could see replacing this one, is Samsung's new, but (understandably) much more costly $1200, 16-50mm S-series f2-2.8 zoom lens. I also own a vintage Minolta Rokkor 50mm f1.4 lens, with a modified-for-NX lens mount, that I no longer use now that I have this 45mm. At f1.8 the depth of field for portrait and street is so shallow already, that I no longer see the point

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Comment was last edited about 3 years ago by Ivo Freriks Ivo Freriks

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