Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Samsung 30mm F/2 review

Typical to a fixed ("pancake") lens at 25-35mm range the size of the optics inside the housing is not exactly huge, especially when compared with "glass monsters" 50/1.4 (50/1.2, 50/1.0), 85/1.4(1.2) and above.

Samsung has been a major player at consumer electronics for several years. They were widely known at 1990s for producing different kind of home appliances such as vacoom cleaners, TV-s or fridges.

1/50 - F/2.0 - ISO400

As of today, the production line of the giant South Korean electronics manufacturer (brief history) has expotentially grown ever since, resulting in wide selection of uncountable electronics based products. The Galaxy smart phones are probably best known, but also laptops and tablets. Samsung also produces enormous amount of memory chips, LCD screens for other manufacturers (incl. Apple).

1/160 - F/2.0 - ISO100 (focus is at minimum focusing distance (approx.30cm), aperture is wide open so you get the idea of bokeh here).

First serious approach to enter the market of digital cameras (other than compact cameras), was a cooperation with Pentax back in 2008, resulting in DSLR cameras branded under the name of Samsung. Bridge-like cameras (smaller sensors than APS-C though) were also marketed, such as the Samsung Pro815.

1/320 - F/4.0 - ISO100 (bokeh stays cool stopped down)

The Samsung NX line (hybrid/mirrorless cameras with APS-C sensors) entered the market back in 2010. Wide range of NX lenses were introduced, including several primes. As per several sources at the internet almighty, the producer of the NX lenses is Optron Technologies.

1/1000 - F/5.6 - ISO100

One of the primes lenses, the "pancake"-type (relatively compact) 30mm F/2 lens has been at my photo bag for a while. Let me share a couple of thoughts about using the lens in real world (so no lab test reports, but impressions from the track and field).

1/500 - F/4.0 - ISO100

The lens is small, so perfect for traveling. Pocketable for mid-large pockets. The 30mm gives you are 45mm equivalent view at APS-C size sensor. This means the view is not wide, nor too narrow, but best of both worlds - you can shoot some architecture at a reasonable distance, and also portrait if you are not too far away.

1/160 - F/5.6 - ISO100

The build quality of the lens is excellent - full metal body + mount, no cheap feeling whatsoever. The feeling is the lens could last for some serious time accompanying the photographer as a reliable tool.

1/500 - F/4.0 - ISO100

As a standard of a modern lens, the auto-focus is a ring-type ultra silent drive, so literally quiet AF operation and reasonably fast focusing time. It can focus as close as 25cm, so not exactly a macro-capable lens, but there's still some freedom to capture relatively smaller things as needed. I tried to fool the focus with making it focus on very close and far objects quite quickly - focusing was snappy, and in average to decent light conditions, very precise.

1/200 - F/2.8 - ISO100

Manual focusing also works smooth - automatic magnifying of the NX1000 body (used for to test this lens) was very helpful for that. The focus rings turns smoothly with no hassle at all.

 1/500 - F/4.0 - ISO100

The lens lacks image stabilization (Samsung NX 18-55 and 55-200 zoom lens have this feature) as well as the I-Function button. I never truly missed either of these (though both features are helpful at certain situations).

The bottom line - at a glance, it may look one boring lens! Only prime, standard focusing distances, small, modest, lightweight.. but you instantly learn to appreciate the results the small lens is able to deliver - sharp wide open, fast/smooth focus, excellent bokeh, pocketable to take a shot whenever, wherever needed. A good companion for to go out at the streets, and nice backup option if you can't use your full frame DSLR available. The price is also reasonable.

1/320 - F/4.0 - ISO100

If you'd like to learn more about the NX lineup - Dx0 recently published an extensive testing of Samsung NX lenses and they were really happy with the results. So whether you are looking for a backup system or to build a new mirrorless camera system, the 30mm F/2 (and potentially other primes from Samsung) are well worth considering.

1/400 - F/4.0 - ISO100

1/320 - F/3.5 - ISO100

For me the exceptional sharpness (I sometimes thought photos taken at F/2.0 were actually stopped down ones), compact design and extremely precise and quick AF makes this lens a real gem. Combined with a slim NX body the set (camera+lens) is also very pocketable and easy to reach ("the best camera is the one that is with you").

1/640 - F/5.0 - ISO100

1/125 - F/2.2 - ISO100