Review: Samsung 45mm f1.8 2D/3D Lens

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Enter the storm trooper. A dear friend of mine aptly pointed out that the Samsung 45mm f1.8 on the NX300 reminds her of the soldiers with terrible aim. The 45mm f1.8 joins the NX ranks as a fast prime lens, and with the NX line’s crop factor, the 35mm-equivalent field of view is nearly 70mm. What distinguishes this lens from the rest is its capacity for 3D. Sadly, I don’t own any 3D-capable devices, so I was unable to test this feature effectively. Regardless, the 45mm f1.8 made for a swell companion on the streets of New York City.

Pros and Cons

Pros

-Smooth focusing ring

-Simple and clean lens design

-Good color rendition and smooth bokeh

-Moderately priced

Cons

-This isn’t necessarily a con, but the iFn button didn’t serve much of a purpose with the NX300’s buttons and dials

Gear Used

For this review, we used the Samsung 45mm f1.8 with the Samsung NX300.

Tech Specs

Courtesy of B&H Photo Video’s listing:

  • 45mm Prime Lens; 69.3mm in 35mm Format
  • Aperture Range: f/1.8-22
  • Fits Samsung NX Mount
  • 2D and 3D Imaging Capability
  • 19.7″ (0.5 m) Minimum Focus Distance
  • 7 Optical Elements in 6 Groups
  • iScene Compatible

Ergonomics

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The Samsung 45mm f1.8 is moderately sized and does not add too much weight to the front of the camera. The design is simple, and the white color contrasts nicely with the NX300’s leatherette finish. There’s a black option, too.

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The 45mm f1.8 doesn’t jut out too much from the body, and the focus ring is both nicely sized and textured. Just be mindful of the the 2D/3D switch and the iFn button. It’s easy to press those if you’re not careful.

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The 45mm f1.8 has two shutter curtains that operate consecutively to create 3D images and video, but that only matters if you have a device that can display 3D content. No quality is lost, however, when you’re shooting standard 2D images and video.

Build Quality

The Samsung 45mm f1.8 is a sturdy piece of glass. The metal construction and smooth focusing ring make it a solid addition to your NX kit. The lens’s weight is reassuring, and the clean design gives it a Star Wars feel, mentioned at the top of this review. Conversely, had Samsung sent the black version, there’d have been mention of Darth Vader at several points. Quality is not lost on this lens, and it excels both in build and image-making.

Autofocus

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Autofocusing with the 45mm f1.8 is fairly fast in most situations. It’s far better in good light than it is in poor lighting, but the NX300’s focus peaking steps in where autofocus fails. The autofocus point can be set by either tapping on the NX300’s LCD or pressing the OK button and navigating with the directional buttons.

Ease of Use

There’s nothing more to this lens than aiming, focusing, and shooting. Of course, be mindful of the 2D/3D switch and the iFn button. Use them if you need to.

Image Quality

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The Samsung 45mm f1.8 is a true winner when it comes to image quality. While the LCD isn’t the best indicator of what you shot, the lens does produce bright colors with the right amount of sharpness. Images are sharp even at f1.8, and it gets better the more you stop down. Given its focal length, this lens lends itself to street photography where sharpness and color rendition are key.

Bokeh

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The f1.8 provides a nice shallow depth of field that renders smooth bokeh that’s very visually appealing. The closer you get to your subject, the better it is. This lens and its bokeh capabilities would make for wonderful studio portraits, too.

Sharpness

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Sharpness is not a concern with this lens. Once you nail the AF point or consult focus peaking, you can rest assured you’ll get your image, and stopped down a bit past f1.8, the lens will provide sharper images. This is a boon for street photography, which is how I used this lens throughout the review period.

Color Fringing

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Throughout the review period, we didn’t find any issues with color fringing, which is one less step to worry about in post.

Color Rendition

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The Samsung 45mm f1.8 wins big with color rendition. I couldn’t say whether or not the colors would pop more in 3D, but for 2D purposes, the lens works wonderfully. With a city as colorful as NYC, color rendition is key to great images and reduced time in post. This lens helps with getting it as right as possible in the camera, which gives the NX line a major leg up.

Extra Image Samples

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SAMSUNG CSC

Conclusions

The NX system isn’t one that I’d normally reach for, given it’s inclination for touch screens. Yet, the NX300 and the 45mm f1.8 are an impressive combination that took me by surprise. The last NX camera and lens I worked with the NX2000 and the kit lens and its touch heavy design lost points with advanced users who favor control. The 45mm f1.8 is a major upgrade from the kit option, as it produces far more beautiful images.

The focal length also lends itself to all types of photography, from street to studio to portraiture, and its fast aperture can make from some colors and pleasing bokeh. The f1.8 also makes it a good contender in low light, but that could be improved had it been slightly faster at f1.4. Yet, that would’ve increased the size of the lens a bit, making the camera more front-heavy.

I lament the fact that I couldn’t make any use of the 3D feature. Regardless, the 45mm f1.8 is an excellent addition to the NX family of lenses, and if you’re in the market for a fast prime, this is the one to look at.

Pick it up now at Adorama and Amazon.

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