An affordable pancake option for the NX series, with excellent image quality
The most obvious things about this prime lens are its compact proportions and the modest size of its front element. Comprising just five elements, each in its own group, this is a ‘pancake’ lens that protrudes less far in front of the camera than the back-plate sits to the rear. As such it looks ill-proportioned and is awkward to hold given the NX10’s body size.
Just under half the barrel’s length is occupied by the focusing ring, which is useless most of the time but is free to rotate. This rotation is a particular inconvenience when trying to take the lens off the camera as any applied twisting action is more likely to turn the focus ring than the lens.
The good news is that Samsung’s 30mm f/2 easily produced excellent image quality. Its MTF figures only drop below the critical 0.25 cycles-per-pixel level at f/22, and all the way down to f/16 its results are significantly better than those of the 18-55mm zoom set to 30mm. Peak sharpness exceeds 0.35 cycles-per-pixel in the range f/4 to f/5.6. The slightest hint of chromatic aberration was seen during technical testing but real-world images were crisp and fringe-free.
These benefits could be enough to cancel out the minor niggles and justify its top-of-the-tree price were it not for the fact that the only way to use the 30mm lens in MF mode is to make that selection via the camera’s menu: sadly, there is no AF/MF selector on the lens itself.
Overall, this is a Jekyll-and-Hyde lens. If you like compact lenses then you’ll love it but if not then its handling may annoy you. It’s the most expensive of the current Samsung NX lenses yet it has the fewest features and isn’t even supplied with a lens-hood, which the other two have. On the other hand, it returns some very strong MTF data, is virtually free from chromatic aberration and produces beautifully smooth images when wide apertures are used. It is therefore for individual purchasers to decide whether this lens is an unnecessary addition or perfect fast and compact alternative to the 18-55mm zoom.
See sample image gallery
5 elements in 5 groups
85g (without hood)