When it comes to portrait focal lengths, Samsung has always delivered beautiful lens offerings, So when the 50-150mm f2.8 OIS came in for review, we were ecstatic to see what it offered. The lens is billed as one of their high end offerings–and so incorporates weather sealing, a rugged body, and lots of controls around it. To boot, the lens also delivers beautiful image quality overall.
With 20 elements in 13 groups comprising the inside, the lens is also an internal focusing and zooming one.
And to be quite honest, this lens has to be one of the best telephoto zoom lenses that we’ve tested here on the site.
Pros and Cons
– Built like a tank
– Tripod Collar can’t be removed
– Super sharp–Samsung’s portrait and high end lenses should be taken very seriously
– Beautiful bokeh at the more telephoto end
– Very smooth focusing ring
– Great placement of the switches on this lens–very subtle but makes lots of sense to put them towards the front
– Weather sealing will ensure that this lens takes a beating and keeps clicking
– Big, sort of
For this review we tested the Samsung 50-150mm f2.8 OIS lens on the NX30. We used PocketWizard Plus III transceivers, Adorama’s Flashpoint Streaklight 180WS, Lumopro’s LP-180, Westcott six foot parabolic umbrellas, and the Peak Design Clutch strap.
During one session, we used this lens with the Samsung NX1 flagship mirrorless camera.
Tech specs taken from the B&H Photo listing of the lens
|Filter Thread||Front:72 mm|
|Dimensions (DxL)||Approx. 3.19 x 6.06″ (8.10 x 15.39 cm)|
|Weight||2.02 lb (.92 kg)|
The Samsung 50-150mm f2.8 OIS is a rather well constructed lens that has a couple of subtle ergonomic changes that to us really seem to make sense. But at the same time, it doesn’t do it all perfectly. We start our ergonomics tour by looking at that massive front element. At 72mm, you’ll need quite the filter to protect this lens from frontal impact. While the lens hood will offer some protection, it isn’t 100% secure.
The lens is characterized by one pretty massive zoom ring and a Jenny Craig worthy focusing ring splitting up a bunch of smooth metal that makes up the exterior. The lens is an internal zooming one and so that helps to keep the size down.
To control the lens, you can use these four controls between the zooming and focusing area. The button lets you control ISO, Aperture or exposure–but there is also an AF/MF, OIS and focus limiter switch.
What makes this lens very unique is the tripod collar, which doesn’t come off at all but instead slides around the lens. It’s a fairly low profile addition to the lens, but I really wish that I could take the damn thing off.
Samsung’s 50-150mm f2.8 OIS lens is billed as being weather sealed. Considering that it is a higher end lens, it really should be. We took the lens out during a light rainfall and it didn’t seem to be phased by the elements.
Otherwise, the lens’s exterior is comprised of an all metal build that works incredibly well for what it is. The metal is very smooth to the touch and we wish that it were a bit more textured for grip reasons. However, the lens also has a massive focusing ring that can be gripped with no trouble.
This lens tends to nail focusing very quickly when used with Samsung’s higher end cameras like the NX30 and NX1. The focus limiter is quite a nice addition, but the performance overall is so darned good that we never really needed to use it. In the rare cases that we manually focused the lens, we felt that it wasn’t really needed due to the cameras offering focus peaking and focus check magnification.
Ease of Use
This lens is one that can be screwed onto a camera and is ready to shoot with immediately. All of the controls that you need to access are right at your finger tips when zooming the lens in and out–and none of them are accidentally hit. If you’re using this lens with a higher end camera, you probably won’t be worrying too much about the i-Function button on the lens due to the dials and controls being on the camera.
The Samsung 50-150mm f2.8 OIS lens is a lens that proves that Samsung is an exemplary lens manufacturer. Our favorite is the company’s 85mm f1.4, but this lens may even beat that for portrait photography. It renders wonderful colors, great sharpness, and what can be really wonderful bokeh in the right situation. Photojournalists and portrait photographers will make the most use of this especially when combined with Samsung’s connectivity options that allow you to shoot an incredible portrait and send it off to Instagram or any other social channel immediately.
This lens’s sharpness is simply incredible. Part of it has to do with the 20.3MP APS-C sensor in the NX30. Every image that we shot was able to resolve details in natural light like we’ve never seen before from other lenses except for those from Zeiss, Olympus and Sigma. When flashes were added to deliver even more specular highlights, the sharpness obviously went up even more.
We’re quite impressed with what this lens is capable of doing in terms of sharpness. In fact, it may even be too sharp for portraits and you’ll probably have to scale the sharpness back–or have lots of smoothing makeup on your subject.
Photographers that don’t look at Samsung seriously should have a close look at this lens. More so than any other, it should make your head turn.
At the wider end of this lens, I wasn’t incredibly impressed, but can still honestly say that the bokeh isn’t terrible in any way, shape or form. It’s quite hazy, but not too creamy. Only when you start to zoom in will the bokeh become very creamy.
This only makes sense though considering the focal length range. However, the bokeh isn’t distracting at all and instead is truly beautiful.
Something that we’ve always been smitten with from Samsung has to be their color rendition. It’s very saturated in the right spots and not so much for skin tones that therefore makes the photographer need to scale it back.
Samsung’s color rendition takes the best of Canon and Sony and adds a bit more saturation that Fujifilm naturally has to their images. The colors are indeed really beautiful and make the editing process a simple one as well.
In all of our tests, we found very little purple fringing. Overall, it’s very well controlled and you will only be able to see it when looking at 100%. But we encourage you to get over pixel peeping, and instead to focus on the whole. When it comes to looking at the whole image, we couldn’t find any fringing. Any evident fringing was easily removed with Adobe Lightroom 5.
Extra Image Samples
– Excellent build quality
– Sharp images
– Nice bokeh at the longer end of the lens
– Great colors
– Fast focusing
– Considering that Sigma made an 18-35mm f1.8, we’d really like to see lenses with faster apertures on the market.
Samsung has delivered to us an exemplary lens that offers some of the highest image quality that we’ve seen from a mirrorless camera offering. Hands down, it has the best color of any telephoto zoom lens designed for a MILC that we’ve seen. It’s also got a great build overall–though we have some very minor qualms with it that can be solved with the addition of gaffer tape to the lens.
Portrait photographers should take a much more serious look at what Samsung offers–you’ll be truly blown away.
The Samsung 50-150mm f2.8 OIS lens wins our Editor’s Choice Award along with five out of five stars. Want one? B&H lists them for $1,599.99.
Recommended Cameras and Accessories
– Samsung NX30: The NX30 isn’t weather sealed, but it’s still got all the great features that many pro-targeted mirrorless cameras offer.
– Samsung NX1: The single best Samsung camera gives you a DSLR feel without the size and bulk. It pairs excellently with this lens.