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Samsung NX 30mm f/2 and Sony E 16mm f/2.8 lens - Review / Test Report 1.

Samsung NX 30mm f/2

Mirrorless micro-system cameras (also called "EVIL" = Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens) are among the hottest products of the season. Micro-Four Thirds started first in late 2008 and they jump-started right into the list of top selling cameras all over the planet. Slowly but steadily we're now seeing further competitors. Surprisingly there're no "traditional" DSLR manufacturers among the first followers. Instead the electronic giants such as Samsung and Sony are taking their chances.

Earlier this year Samsung released their "NX" system and they were bold enough to start from scratch - the NX mount is not compatible to one of the established mount systems - so there aren't really many lenses available as of the time of this review. Our first NX review covers the Samsung NX 30mm f/2 - a pancake lens. These dwarfish lenses get increasingly popular also because they're a perfect match for the very small micro-system cameras. Such "kits" are only slighly bigger than conventional digicams. Samsung NX is an APS-C format system so the field of view of the Samsung lens is equivalent to about 45mm on full format cameras - a typical standard prime lens. The Samsung lens is very well build. You could argue that it's so small that there can't be any shaky parts anyway. The lens is made of high quality plastics based on a metal mount. The physical length extends slightly towards closer focus distances. The front element does not rotate.

The NX 30mm f/2 features a conventional micro-motor which operates slowly for a contrast-detection system (primarily a camera issue) and nearly silent. The AF accuracy is very high but that's typical for such systems. The small focus ring is not directly coupled to the focusing gear - similar to Micro-Four-Thirds is works "by wire" (the focus ring accentuates the AF motor). We had no issues with this approach.

Optical Quality: Mechanical Quality: Price/Performance:

Verdict The Samsung NX 30mm f/2 is a highly attractive pancake lens. It's very sharp across the image frame straight from f/2 onwards and the results are really great at medium aperture settings. Distortions as well as lateral CAs are minimal and not field relevant. You may spot some purple fringing in extreme contrast situations but that's rather typical at very large apertures anyway. The amount of vignetting is minor even at f/2 (at least from a user's perspective). The only really weakness of the lens is the quality of the bokeh which can be somewhat rough at times. Besides being extremely compact and light-weight it is also very well built. The AF speed is Ok although nothing to rave about but this aspect is also related to the capabilities of the camera. The NX10 tends to hunt a little around the final focus point. Some users may not like the "fly-by-wire" approach in manual focusing mode but we think it's mostly just a matter of getting used to it. The pricing of the Samsung NX 30mm f/2 is very competitive and it's definitely worth to have it in your bag.

Article Index Introduction : Analysis : Sample Images & Verdict :


Sony E 16mm f/2.8 (Sony NEX)

The Sony E 16mm f/2.8 is a so-called "pancake" lens for the Sony NEX system. The field-of-view is equivalent to a classic ~24mm full format lens so it's on the borderline between a wide- and ultra-wideangle prime lens. The lens alone is also part of a mini-system based on optional converters. It is possible to (front-)mount a fisheye converter (VCL-ECF1) as well as well as a 0.75x ultra wide-angle converter (VCLECU1). This is a quite bold "statement" because converter combinations require a really good base lens in order to produce a decent quality level. We'll see.

The build quality of the Sony lens is excellent but the lens construction is so simple that there can't really be many shaky parts anyway. The metal lens body is tightly combined with a tiny metal focus ring. The front element does not rotate and the physical length remains constant regardless of the focus setting.

The AF performance is pretty good for a contrast detection system (albeit highly dependent on the base camera). AF operations are basically noiseless. Manual focusing works "by wire" so the focus ring is not directly coupled to the focus gears but to the AF motor. DMF ("Direct Manual Focusing" in Single Shot AF mode) is supported.

Optical Quality: Field Quality: Mechanical Quality: Price/Performance:

Verdict The Sony E 16mm f/2.8 is a controversial lens. Upon first contact you're probably positively surprised - it's stylish, dwarfish, very well built and the AF performance is also pretty good. It doesn't even cost a fortune. Unfortunately that's where most of the glory ends. The lens delivers very sharp images in the inner image field but the corner performance is rather poor especially at f/2.8 and f/4. The fairly heavy amount of lateral CAs isn't helpful here either. However, to be fair - if you use the lens at f/8, the sweet spot, it is actually capable of delivering good results across the image field and the corners are usually not all that important when taking images at f/2.8 anyway. The bokeh (quality of the out-of-focus blur) can be quite rough in critical scenes although that's typical for most wide-angle lenses. The amount of vignetting is class-average at f/2.8 but it could be somewhat lower at smaller apertures. Distortions are well controlled and not overly relevant from a field perspective. So technically it isn't really an impressive lens but it can give you quite good results if you're aware of its limitations and maneuver around them.

Article Index Introduction : Analysis : Sample Images & Verdict :

Samsung NX and Sony E pancake lens Review  

Mirrorless micro-system cameras (also called "EVIL" = Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens) are among the hottest products of the sea...

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