Lens review

Samsung NX 20-50 mm f/3.5-5.6 ED

26 January 2011
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

If you are accustomed to the standard,18–55 mm kit range of focal lengths at the beginning you might be a bit perplexed by the 20–50 mm range offered by the Samsung, which stems from the compromise mentioned in the introduction and aimed at shrinking the device. The equivalent of focal lengths ranging from 30 to 75 mm is not such an untypical thing after all, appearing also in analogue instruments. From the point of view of the mirrorless devices the Samsung NX 20-50 F/3.5-5.6 is an alternative to kit devices; that’s why in the comparison chart we presented the tested lens along with kit lenses from different systems, including those of the NX system.

When it comes to the design and parameters the lens tested here is very much like the M.Zuiko Digital14–42 mm f/3.5–5.6 ED, which offers the equivalent of focal lengths ranging from 28 to 82 mm. The latter is a bit longer and heavier but both instruments’ constructions are very similar – including 9 optical elements in 8 groups, an untypical filter thread 40.5 mm in diameter and a blocking system for transport purposes. The resemblance is so striking that you must start wondering who borrowed from whom – the chronological order would of course indicate the Samsung. Unfortunately the lack of the tested Samsung’s inner construction diagram makes it impossible to investigate further this issue.

Apart from the obvious difference, consisting of the narrower range of angles of view, the first thing that sticks out here is the smallest weight and dimensions of the Samsung NX 20-50 f/3.5-5.6. Its weight is about 60% of that of kit lenses from NX and NEX system. Also in the transport position the lens is noticeably smaller.

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The photo below shows the Samsung NX 20-50 mm f/3.5-5.6 positioned next to the NX 18-55 mm mm f/3.5–5.6 OIS kit lens and the reflex camera Canon kit EF-S 18–55 mm f/3.5–5.6 IS.

Samsung NX 20-50 mm f/3.5-5.6 ED - Build quality

The comparison between the dimensions of the Samsung NX100 with the kit lens attached and with the tested lens attached is presented below.

Samsung NX 20-50 mm f/3.5-5.6 ED - Build quality

Like the Olympus kit lens, mentioned before, the Samsung features a blockage which makes it possible to hide the extended part inside the instrument in the transport position. After unblocking the lens its dimensions increase by about one centimeter and are the biggest for extreme focal lengths. In the middle of the range the extended part becomes even shorter by several millimeters.

The lens is made of plastics but the quality of the material is beyond reproach. As the build quality is very good and all elements are well-fitted the lens makes a much more solid impression than the popular Canon EF-S 18–55 mm f/3.5–5.6 IS kit lens. After a several weeks of normal wear and tear we couldn’t find any scratches or cracks on it.

Samsung NX 20-50 mm f/3.5-5.6 ED - Build quality

The lens features a plastic mount. Immediately behind it you can find the logo of the producer, a red dot indicating the right fixing position, the focal range and some icons with hints about practical applications of the lens – in this case a landscape and portrait mode has been suggested. Next you can find a ribbed zoom ring about 1 cm wide. There is also a button which blocks the lens in the transport position. If you move the ring when the lens is blocked you can unblock it instantly; otherwise the button must be used. Behind the ring there is an immobile part on which you can find the precise marking of the lens and the distance scale with the values of 20, 24, 35 and 55 mm.

Samsung NX 20-50 mm f/3.5-5.6 ED - Build quality

Apart from that the lens boasts one of the biggest innovations of Samsung – the i-Function button. The lens ends with a quite narrow, ribbed focus ring and a non-rotating filter thread, 40.5 mm in diameter. The focus ring is also used to change parameters such as ISO speed, white balance, aperture and exposition compensation when you work in the i-Function mode. If you press the I-Function button and you turn the focus ring you can comfortable change these settings.

The inner design of the lens consists of 9 elements in 8 groups, one aspherical element and one made of ED glass (low dispersion glass which is supposed to minimize chromatic aberration level). Inside you can also find a circular aperture with 7 diaphragm blades which can be closed up to f/22. The lens offer 1:4.5 magnification, the same as its bigger relative, the Samsung NX 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 OIS compact kit

Currently the tested lens is not available in Polish shops yet but it is supposed to be sold with both caps but without any lens hood.