Samsung 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS Lens
The standard kit zoom lens for NX series interchangeable lens cameras.Samsung’s 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS covers the typical focal length range of a standard kit lens. Built to a price, it nevertheless offers desirable features like built-in optical stabilisation and comes with a clip-on, petal-shaped lens hood (which some manufacturers omit). It’s also surprisingly small for a camera with an APS-C sized sensor, at just over half the weight of similar lenses supplied with APS-C DSLRs. . . [more]
Samsung’s 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS covers the typical focal length range of a standard kit lens. Built to a price, it nevertheless offers desirable features like built-in optical stabilisation and comes with a clip-on, petal-shaped lens hood (which some manufacturers omit). It’s also surprisingly small for a camera with an APS-C sized sensor, at just over half the weight of similar lenses supplied with APS-C DSLRs.
Constructed with 12 elements in nine groups, the 18-55mm lens includes one aspherical element to correct common aberrations. It has seven diaphragm blades that close to a circular aperture and offers a minimum focus of 28 cm with a maximum magnification of roughly 0.22 times.
The Samsung 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS kit lens for NX series cameras.
This lens is made almost entirely of black polycarbonate and is a good match for the NX10 body. Built quality is quite good for the price of this lens. However, the plastic lens mount is something of a letdown, particularly since metal mounts have been provided for the other lenses released with the NX10.
Extending approximately 70 mm out from the camera body (with lens cap attached) at the 18mm position, it protrudes roughly 35 mm further at the 55mm focal length. The focusing ring is a narrow band between 15 and 20mm back from the front of the lens barrel with thin parallel ridges to provide a grip.
Although narrow, it’s in proportion to the rest of the lens and relatively easy to use. However, on the review lens, it was quite free-moving and difficult to focus with high precision. It also turns through a full 360 degrees, regardless of whether the lens is set for auto or manual focusing.
The zoom ring is a ridged, rubber-coated, 15 mm wide band closer to the camera body. It turns through just under a quarter of a turn as you move from the 18mm to the 55mm focal length. There’s no distance scale, no depth-of-field indicator and no markings for infrared focus correction.
On the left side of the main barrel are two sliders; one for switching between auto and manual focusing and the other for turning the image stabiliser on and off. The petal-shaped lens hood is easy to attach and provides excellent shielding against stray light. It reverses over the lens barrel when not in use.
The review lens was a comfortable fit on the NX10 body used for our tests and the combined camera-plus-lens felt light but well balanced. The front of the lens rotates a little as the lens is zoomed from the 18mm to the 55mm focal length position – but probably not enough to affect polarisers settings significantly.
The five focal length settings marked on the lens barrel appeared to be accurate in our shooting tests. Changes in maximum apertures as focal length is increased are shown in the table below.
Focal length setting
The performance of the review lens in Photo Review’s Imatest tests was typical of many short-zoom kit lenses. Resolution was quite high in the centre of the field at wider apertures but edge softening was seen throughout the focal length range, particularly at shorter focal lengths. The graph below shows the results of our tests.
Lateral chromatic aberration was mainly in the ‘low’ band but negligible for the 35mm, 45mm and 55mm focal lengths. However traces of coloured fringing could be seen in shots taken in contrasty outdoor lighting. In the graph below, which shows the results of our tests, the red line marks the border between negligible and low CA, while the green line separates low from moderate CA.
Rectilinear distortion was also quite low for a lens of this type. Slight barrel distortion, which was visible at 18mm, was resolved by 24mm. However, slight pincushioning could be seen at 55mm. Vignetting was negligible at wide apertures throughout the lens’s zoom range.
Backlit subjects were handled well and the supplied lens hood enabled shots to be taken in quite strong contre-jour situations. Close-up shooting, however, was restricted by the 28 cm minimum focusing distance and only possible with the lens set to 55mm. Even then, it was difficult to frame in on subjects less than 10 cm across.
Bokeh at the widest aperture settings was a little smoother than the 30mm f/2 lens but out-of-focus highlights remained slightly chunky.
Buy this lens if:
– It’s offered with a camera body. As a kit lens, its performance is up to the standard of most entry and lower mid-level DSLRs.
– You require low levels of chromatic aberration and minimal vignetting.
Don’t buy this lens if:
– You require totally distortion-free images.
– You need close focusing capabilities.
Distortion at 18mm; ISO 200, 1/50 second at f/5.6.
Distortion at 55mm; ISO 200, 1/80 second at f/5.6.
Vignetting at 18mm f/3.5; ISO 100.
Vignetting at 55mm f/5.6; ISO 100.
18mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/125 second at f/11.
55mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/60 second at f/10.
Close focusing limit; 18mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/400 second at f/3.5.
55mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/160 second at f/5.6.
18mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/90 second at f/5.
100% crop from the above image showing slight coloured fringing.
55mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/50 second at f/6.3.
Bokeh; 55mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/50 second at f/5.6. Manual focusing.
18mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/90 second at f/4.
18mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/90 second at f/5.
35mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/8.
Additional image samples can be found with the review of the Samsung NX10 camera.
Picture angle: 75.9 to 28.7 degrees
Maximum aperture: f/3.5-5.6
Minimum aperture: f/22
Lens construction: 12 elements in 9 groups (includes one aspherical lens)
Lens mount: Samsung NX
Diaphragm Blades: 7 (circular aperture)
Minimum focus: 28 cm
Maximum magnification: Approx. 0.22x
Filter size: 58 mm
Dimensions (Diameter x L): 63 x 65.1 mm
Weight: Approx. 198 grams (without hood)
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