This budget superzoom option will only set you back £150, but what exactly can you expect for such a reasonable price?
Despite being a 4x zoom the 50-200mm suffers only a one f-stop change in aperture across the focal-length range. In fact this specification is unusual in competitively-priced tele-zooms but such lenses often suffer from MTF weaknesses, which Samsung’s lens tries hard to avoid.
This zoom has almost twice the mass of the body to which it is attached yet the combination still feels nicely balanced. There is a vast zoom ring across the middle section of the barrel with a narrow focusing ring further forward and a pair of slider switches to the rear. The zoom ring has a consistent feel across its quarter-turn twist and causes the lens to almost double in length when extending from 50mm to 200mm. The focusing ring is uncoupled from the internal mechanism in AF mode so you can’t apply manual adjustments but neither is it necessary to avoid obstructing it.
The 50-200mm’s lens-hood is cylindrical and is short enough to leave the zoom ring significantly exposed when stowed, allowing the lens to be used without having to reverse the lens-hood first.
Samsung’s OIS system gives a sharpness advantage even when the camera and lens are tripod-mounted. In the field, though, side-by-side comparisons of everyday images, taken at modest exposure times, show no improvements. However, when long exposure times are used, unaided handheld images become softened whereas OIS images retain their edge.
Chromatic aberrations become more visible as the focal-length increases but at no point is it unacceptable. In MTF testing, at 200mm the lens only just hits the critical 0.25 cycles-per-pixel level; at 50mm it is comfortably above 0.3 cycles-per-pixel across much of the aperture range.
This is a useful lens that performs well but there is room for an apochromatic telephoto to deliver even better image quality to Samsung users who are prepared to pay a higher price.