Review Samsung 12-24 mm f/4-5.6 ED NX

The Samsung NX 12-24 mm zoom lens is compact, light (2 ounces!) and certainly not expensive for a wide-angle zoom lens with which you make dramatic landscape shots and wide interior photos. For a field of view of 24 mm (FF equivalent), there is plenty of choice in the Samsung lens selection. You can choose from the Samsung 12-24 mm, Samsung 16-50 mm f/2-2.8, Samsung 16-50 mm F3.5-5.6 PowerZoom ED OIS or the Samsung 16 mm f/2.4. But fans of a wide perspective, with a field of view smaller than the field of view of a 24 mm lens on a full-frame lens, have to choose between the Samsung Fisheye lens, which we reviewed previously, and the relatively unknown and little-reviewed Samsung 12-24 mm. How good is the optical performance of a lens design that has already been on the market for a couple of years? Do an extra-low dispersion and two aspherical lens elements really deliver higher image quality? Is that possible with such an inexpensive and small lens? In other words: Is this lens good enough for a Samsung NX1 or a Samsung NX500, with a modern 28-megapixel BSI sensor? High time for a review of the Samsung 12-24 mm, then.

Samsung 12-24 mm: wide view with high center sharpness in a very compact size

700 SAM3260photo: Ton Niessing
12 mm @ APS-C Rocks: Imagine that you zoomed out to 16 mm for this shot. Nothing would be left of the composition.

Build and auto focus

700 SAM3480photo: Ton Niessing
The shortest distance setting is very small at 17 cm. The front lens is a couple of centimeters from the subject, while you retain the wide-angle perspective. By definition, it is not a real 1:1 macro (where the subject is the same size on the sensor as in real life), but the effect is not lost.

The Samsung 12-24 mm is light, small and has a modest 58 mm filter size. Next to an AF/MF switch, there is an iFn button on the zoom lens, with which you can assign your own function via the camera. That takes some getting used to if you are not accustomed to Samsung cameras and lenses, but it increases the ease of use as soon as you are used to it. The housing is made of plastic; the lens mount, of metal. A flower-shaped lens hood with a mount attachment is included. The manual focus ring is nicely dampened, and the AF works quickly. For the use of (polarisation or grayscale) filters, it is nice that the front lens does not turn when focusing.

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Vignetting and distortion

700 SAM3341photo: Ton Niessing
As usual for wide-angles, there is some vignetting with an open aperture. At f/4, that is no longer a problem. Barrel-shaped distortion is—not surprisingly for a wide-angle zoom—visible at the shortest focal lengths.
If you edit into JPEG in, for example, Lightroom or another program delivered with the camera, then it is as good as gone. We did note, though, that the in-camera correction for distortion at 12 mm seems to be a bit too drastically applied, since the distortion transitioned in our measurement from barrel-shaped (RAW) to pincushion-shaped (jpg).
Vignetting is strikingly low. At full opening, you can see in a photo of an even blue sky that the corners are darker. But there are many APS-C wide-angle zooms with notably more vignetting.

Flare and chromatic aberration

700SAM 7749Bphoto: Ton Niessing

Ever-more manufacturers are choosing, due to cost considerations, to correct chromatic aberration with software. Samsung as well, and I think there is little wrong with it, when it comes to the image quality. In un-corrected files, chromatic aberration is visible that does not disappear if you choose a smaller aperture. Both the jpg files from the camera or RAW (SRW) files that you open in Lightroom or Photoshop show practically no chromatic aberration. You can encounter flare and ghosts if there is a bright light source shining in frame. The Samsung 12-24 mm is no better or worse on this point than most wide-angle zooms for APS-C from other brands.


Until recently, we showed measurement results for jpg files, including all possible lens corrections that are available on the camera (WYSIWYG). The disadvantage of these pictures is that they give less information about the quality of the lens design. We now show the resolution measurements of RAW files without correction of chromatic aberration, measured with our new test set-up that is also suitable for 50-megapixel cameras. For lenses that have visible chromatic aberration, the graphs with measurement results for RAW files in the corners deliver a lower edge sharpness than in the graphs of corrected jpg files that we have shown previously. We also still measure both corrected jpg files and uncorrected RAW files, so that you can see the influence of lens corrections on the image quality.

Bokeh Samsung NX 12-24 mm

The background blur (“bokeh”) of the Samsung 12-24 mm is just as good as that of comparable wide-angle zoom lenses for cameras with an APS-C sensor. Noisy, as you can see in the example above. You buy a wide-angle zoom lens for the enormously wide field of view and the terrifically big focal depth, not for a butter-soft bokeh; for that you need the Samsung 85 mm f/1.4. For beautiful bokeh at a short focal length, you choose the Samsung 16-50 mm f/2-2.8.
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Conclusion Samsung NX 20 mm review with Samsung NX1

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Use our list of reviewed lenses to compare this lens with other lenses.

ECWYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, where you have applied all available in-camera lens corrections. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: “What you see is what you get”. {insertgrid ID = 308}
ECPure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens if the file is stored in the camera as a RAW file. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. If you make use of Photoshop, Lightroom or SilkyPix for the conversion of RAW files, then the RAW scores are the same as the jpg scores. {insertgrid ID = 309}


  • 12 mm focal length delivers the widest perspectives
  • Compact and light
  • Solidly built and solid optical performance
  • Attractively priced


  • Sharpness in the corners is less than in the center
  • Modest brightness

Photographing with an extreme wide-angle like the Samsung NX 12-24 mm adds a dimension to your body of work.

The Samsung 12-24 mm f/4-5.6 ED NX is an especially attractive zoom lens for multiple reasons. First, there is the shortest focal length of 12 mm, which makes the field of view of every Samsung camera spectacularly larger. Replace a 16-50 mm zoom—the kit lens with which many Samsung cameras are sold—with this 12-24 mm, and the world will open up for you. The weight is exceptionally low for an APS-C wide-angle zoom lens. The Samsung 12-24 mm weighs half as much as a similar zoom lens, the Canon EF-S 10-22 mm. The dimensions mean that you can easily take the Samsung 12-24 mm along: a length of just 6.5 cm and a filter diameter of 58 mm are unique. A length of more than 10 cm and a filter diameter of 77 mm make similar lenses from other brands into giants in comparison with the Samsung 12-24 mm.
Do the small dimensions and light weight go along with lower quality? No. If you compare the performance of this Samsung with the more expensive Canon 10-22 mm APS-C wide-angle zoom, then the optical performance is comparable. The Samsung 12-24 mm beats the Canon as far as resolution is concerned at the shortest focal lengths, but that difference is more due to the extremely high resolution of the Samsung NX1. This is not the best lens from the Samsung lens selection. In the Samsung 16-50 mm f/2-2.8, for example, the 12-24 mm has to acknowledge its superior. The extra brightness of the 16-50 mm f/2-2.8 will appeal more to professionals. That is not strange, if you include the difference in dimensions, weight and price in the comparison.


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