Samsung NX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II ( S1855IB ) - Review / Lab Test - Analysis
Lens Reviews - Samsung NX
Article Index
Introduction
Analysis

Distortion

The distortion characteristic follows the usual pattern in this lens class. The lens produces a pronounced barrel distortion (3.4%) at 18mm. In the middle range there's nothing to worry about in this respect and there is only a slight amount of pincushion distortion at the very long end.

Move the mouse cursor over the focal length text marks below to observe the respective distortion
18mm 28mm 55mm

Vignetting

The Samsung NX lens shows some light falloff at max. aperture with an expected peak at 18mm @ f/3.5. At 1EV (f-stop) this will be visible in some scenes but stopping down a little reduces the issue to a very acceptable 0.4EV. The amount of vignetting decreases at max. aperture the more you zoom out to 55mm.

MTF (resolution)

"Kit" zoom lenses don't tend to be great - which can't come as a surprise regarding the very moderate pricing - but the Samsung NX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS does actually a pretty good job with respect to its resolution capabilities. The center resolution is very high at 18mm even at max. aperture and the border quality is also fine. However, the extreme corners are soft here. Stopping down to f/5.6 boosts the border & corner quality quite a bit already and you can expect sharp results across the image field around f/8. The 28mm setting is the sweet spot of the lens. The center resolution is still very good and the border/corner region follows on a good level. Stopping down to medium apertures results in a gain in overall quality with a very good peak at f/8 again. There is a decrease in quality when zooming out to 55mm. This is most apparent in the image corners which are soft at f/5.6. However, stopping down to f/8 resolves the issue. The lens exhibits only a moderate amount of field curvature across the range.

We tested two samples of this lens. The centering quality wasn't really great in both cases. Based on what we've seen so far you need to be generally cautious with Samsung's OIS lenses in this respect.

Below is a simplified summary of the formal findings. The chart shows line widths per picture height (LW/PH) which can be taken as a measure for sharpness. If you want to know more about the MTF50 figures you may check out the corresponding Imatest Explanations

Chromatic Aberrations (CAs)

Lateral CAs (color shadows at the image boders) are well controlled for such a lens. At f/5.6 they remain below 1px on the average at the image borders. The CAs are somewhat more pronounced at max. aperture at 18mm @ f/3.5 and 28mm @ f/4.5. At medium aperture settings you may spot this upon very close inspection on screen but it's pretty much irrelevant on prints.

Verdict

The Samsung NX 18-55mm f/3.5.5.6 OIS (II) is, of course, not a perfect lens - the low pricing sets limits to what you can expect here. However, it is a decent offering nonetheless. The image corners are somewhat soft at 18mm @ f/3.5 and 55mm @ f/5.6 but if you stop down to the sweet spot - around f/8 - you can expect sharp results across the frame. The quality stays, of course, short of what you can achieve with prime lenses but that's no surprise anyway. Lateral CAs are generally well controlled. You will see some light falloff in the image corners at max. aperture but if you stop down a little the issue is not really relevant anymore. Image distortions are an issue at the wide end of the zoom range but this is rather typical for a lens in this class.

The plastic lens body is tightly assembled. However, we didn't like the rather uneven zoom action and the high amount of friction. This may also be a bit of competitive disadvantage when interested users compare the various kit offerings (especially vs Sony E) in shops out there. The AF operates fast and silently. The optical image stabilizer (OIS) works just fine and its efficiency is comparable to other systems.

Mirrorless systems are certainly the future but as of now their major appeal is size and low weight. The NX200 + NX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS is certainly small compared to a DSLR but still the biggest "kit" in the mirrorless system class. So at least size-wise some users may find the Samsung NX 20-50mm f/3.5-5.6 more appealing.

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