The Samsung 60mm f/2.8 Macro ED OIS NX ($599.99 direct) is the first macro lens for the NX mirrorless camera system. It delivers a field of view that is equivalent to 90mm on a full-frame camera and focuses close enough so that you can achieve 1:1 magnification—the size of the image that is projected onto your camera’s image sensor matches the size of the object in real life. This lets you capture some impressively small details, and is a great option to capture flowers, fine textures, and other intricate subjects.
It’s a big lens, with the hood attached it’s bigger than the NX300 with which we tested it. The 60mm lens measures 3.3 by 2.9 inches (HD) and features a 52mm filter thread. The included hood just about doubles the length when attached, but can be reversed for storage. The minimum focus distance is about 7.2 inches; but remember that is measured from the sensor plane, not from the front element of the lens. Because of the length of the lens and its hood, you’ll actually have to remove or reverse the hood when working with subjects at the minimum focus distance.
Optical stabilization helps you get a steadier shot, and there are a couple of physical control switches on the lens itself. The Focus Limiter allows you to limit focus to non-macro subjects for quicker acquisition, or to allow the lens to hunt over its full range. The iFn button makes it possible to control certain camera functions via the lens itself. Most Samsung lenses use the manual focus ring to control this, but the 60mm Macro has a dedicated control ring for iFn. The larger manual focus ring is always active, which is especially helpful when shooting macro subjects as, is the case with most macro lenses, the focus tends to hunt a bit when trying to lock on to a close subjects.
I used Imatest to check the sharpness and distortion characteristics of the lens. It’s an incredibly sharp lens, scoring 2,330 lines per picture height at its maximum aperture when paired with the 20-megapixel NX300. Edge performance is excellent at f/2.8, and overall sharpness improves marginally as you narrow the aperture. It peaks at 2,591 lines at f/5.6. As you would expect from a macro lens, distortion is a nonissue. Its performance is in line with the Sony 30mm f/3.5 Macro that is available for the competing NEX system. That lens has a shorter focal length, but still manages to 1:1 magnification ratio thanks to a shorter minimum focus distance.
If you’re an NX camera owner and you need a macro lens, the Samsung 60mm f/2.8 Macro ED OIS NX is currently your only choice in a native format. Thankfully it’s an excellent performer, albeit a bit large and on the pricey side. You can adapt an older manual focus lens if you’d like, but by the time you add an SLR lens adapter the size advantage is negated. The 90mm field of view is also a classic option for portraits, and the f/2.8 aperture will allow you to create a pleasantly shallow depth of field when working close enough to frame your subject in a head-and-shoulders shot.
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