Samsung NX 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 ED OIS iFn ( EX-L18200MB ) - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Samsung NX

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published June 2011

Introduction

Extreme zoom-range lenses are inevitable in all mounts - even in the rather low profile Samsung NX mount. Following the philosophy of of its kind, the Samsung NX 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 ED OID iFn is promising to deliver a huge focal length range in a compact, light-weight package. Such a multi-purpose lens belongs to the so-called "Omnia" series in Samsung terminology.

Just like the similar Sony E 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS (Sony NEX), it shows a weakness of the concept when applied to APS-C mirrorless cameras though. The cameras may be small, even tiny, but lenses with a medium to long tele range are just as "big" as on an APS-C DSLR - a Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II (for Nikon DX DSLRs) has about the same size and weight, for example, so such lenses aren't really an obvious choice here.

The Samsung NX 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 ED OID iFn offers a field of view equivalent to about "28-308mm" on full format cameras. That's impressive for sure although it's getting even more extreme in other mounts lately (e.g. Nikon 18-300mm, Tamron 18-270mm). Price-wise the Samsung lens isn't overly cheap but about in line with offerings from other manufacturers.

The build quality of the lens is pretty good actually and that's despite the duo-cam zooming mechanism (= two inner lens tubes). The lens body is mostly based on high quality plastics based on a metal mount. The inner lens tubes show only a marginal tendency of wobbling. As you can conclude from the product images below, the lens extends significantly when zooming towards the long end. Set to 200mm and with attached lens hood, it is a bit of an odd view on the tiny NX 200. The zoom action is fairly smooth for such a lens and the focus ring has no play and turns easily. Typical for recent Samsung NX lenses, it features a dedicated iFn button which allows control of various camera settings in combination with the focus ring.

The AF motor works both fast and silently. However, the NX200 had a hard time in terms of AF accuracy based on firmware v1.0 although this got a little better after upgrading to the latest version. Even so the AF accuracy was still not great though. This is the first time that we experienced such problems on a mirrorless camera. Manual focusing works, as usual for NX lenses, "by-wire" so you actually control the focus motor by turning the focus ring (unless the camera is busy with other operations).
The lens features Samsung's OIS ("Optical Image Stabilizer") which seems slightly less effective than other optical stabilizer systems - you can expect "a gain" of about 2-3 f-stops from it.

Some readers who are agonizing about entering the APS-C mirrorless segment may be interested in a visual comparison to the Sony E 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 for Sony NEX. The Sony lens is slightly shorter but more "fat" and the build quality is somewhat better.

Specifications
Equiv. focal length28-308 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/5.4-f/9.7 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction18 elements in 13 groups (3x aspherical & 2xED elements)
Number of aperture blades7 (circular)
min. focus distance0.50 m (max. magnification 1:3.6)
Dimensions67.2 x 105.5 mm
Weight578 g
Filter size67 mm
Hoodpetal shaped, bayonet mount, included
Other featuresOIS, iFn




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