Laowa is likely one of the first to create a large lens for Nikon’s Z and Canon’s RF mount, with their 15mm f/2 Zero-D. The lens can be obtainable in Sony’s FE, representing a novel choice for full body mirrorless customers. With a powerful aperture and focal size mixture, is it a lens it is best to take into account?

The Model

It’s possible you’ll not have heard about Laowa or Venus Optics earlier than, however when you’ve got, it’s in all probability due to their headline grabbing lens launches. With every announcement, it appears they’re aiming to be the world’s first in no less than a way. Their first lens, a 60mm macro was the primary 2:1 additionally able to focusing to infinity. Their penchant for distinctive lenses has solely continued since then, with lenses like a 4mm round fisheye for Micro 4 Thirds and a wild trying 24mm macro probe.

Don’t confuse them for a producer of gimmicks, nonetheless, as these lenses actually do ship outcomes. Nonetheless, any lens maker must be judged on a per lens foundation.

The Lens

The very first thing that ought to leap off the spec sheet, which is surprisingly prolonged for a main lens, is the aperture and focal size combo. At f/2 and 15mm, Laowa isn’t enjoying it protected by introducing a pedestrian 50mm f/1.eight for the brand new mounts, however as an alternative going fairly huge and really quick. Laowa guarantees very low ranges of distortion, going as far as to place it into the very title with “Zero-D”. Among the many different essential specs embrace a detailed focusing distance of 15cm from the sensor and a 72mm filter thread (notably good to see for panorama use). Though it’s solidly constructed, with a metallic exterior and rings, the lens solely weighs somewhat over a pound.

Regardless of the loaded spec sheet, the lens does not have autofocus or aperture management from the digital camera. For this lens, these aren’t enormous concessions.

The lens may be very effectively constructed, that includes a metallic exterior, precise metallic lens hood, clear markings, and a depth of area scale on the huge, knurled focus ring. Total, the lens feels prefer it’s extraordinarily top quality. For video use, the aperture ring can have its clicking turned off, through a small change close to the mount. 

The lens hood isn’t notably massive, however provides some measure of safety to the surprisingly small and flat entrance aspect. Conveniently, the doorway pupil is clearly marked on the physique of the lens, making it straightforward to make use of this lens in a panoramic setup.

Getting all the way down to the glass, Laowa has constructed this lens round 12 parts in 9 teams, with 2 aspherical parts and three further low dispersion parts. Given the quick and huge design, using these particular parts is important for preventing aberrations. The entrance makes use of their “Frog Eye Coating”, a hydrophobic coating that’s meant to bounce water proper off. Whereas I haven’t had monsoon rains to check this out with, I count on it will be a giant profit to these capturing in misty or wet situations.

In The Discipline

Given the specs, this lens is a superb match for astrophotography and architectural work. Whereas it really works for any huge angle shot, the aperture and distortion traits are the 2 key attributes of the lens.

In use, I discover that focus must be set through a zoomed in view, however when focus is nailed, the lens is sharp. Since this lens is meant to be used with mirrorless, I am not as involved by the dearth of autofocus — there are many aids obtainable, from peaking to zoomed in reside view, that make it simpler to focus manually. 

Stopping all the way down to f/2.eight brings in somewhat further chunk, however at f/2, it’s nonetheless passable. If you happen to want f/2, don’t be afraid to make use of it. In any other case, I don’t suppose you’ll see a lot change stopping down previous f/5.6.

Stopping down will assist vignetting, which is noticeable at f/2. In fact, this is not a major problem given how straightforward it’s to appropriate in submit, however it may be noticeable.

With clicking turned on, aperture choice is simple. The clicks are clear and tactile, with out feeling heavy or caught able. The aperture ring is effectively outlined and clearly separate from the huge guide focus ring. For focus, the motion may be very easy and closely damped. It strikes simply sufficient with about two fingers of stress, however stops immediately, with none play.

To throw focus throughout the vary requires a rotation of somewhat over 90 levels, with about 40 levels masking infinity to 1 foot, with 1 foot to MFD masking the rest. Whereas I don’t usually manually focus my lenses, I had no drawback dialing in focus when on a tripod or utilizing a zoomed in view.

By eye, distortion seems very low — no less than low sufficient to be unnoticeable in my capturing. Chromatic aberrations weren’t important however had been perceptible. They’re simply corrected when observed.

I might like to see some profiles for lens corrections, because the vignetting and CA are each solvable issues. One obstacle to creating these corrections is the dearth of aperture information — at f/2, the diploma of correction required is clearly increased than at f/5.6. 

In use, I by no means had any points with flare, even with robust mild sources within the nook of the body. 

The quick aperture got here in useful when capturing in the direction of sundown, permitting for decrease ISOs than my Nikon 14-30 at f/4. Sharpness was comparable, though off-tripod use meant the occasional missed shot resulting from focus points — mainly as a result of I am not an skilled guide focus person.

Total, the lens nails the necessities. It is sharp and simple to make use of, providing a novel mixture of aperture and focal size. On my Z7, the lens mounted easily (significantly better than my Nikon FTZ adapter, funnily sufficient), and as soon as the lens data was enter, functionally very equally to a primary social gathering lens.

What I Favored

The low distortion makes this an excellent alternative for architectural work if tilt/shift corrections aren’t wanted. For astrophotographers, it is a comparatively cheap choice for a really huge, quick lens. It might probably work nice as a panorama lens, due to its filter threads and robust decision efficiency throughout the body.

Total efficiency is robust. The lens is sharp all through the vary of focus distance and aperture choices, whereas the slight vignetting may be very correctable.

Construct high quality can be a powerful level — the lens feels very effectively constructed and sturdy.

What I Did not Like

I’d wish to see the lens present aperture information to the digital camera, however this isn’t crucial. Handbook focus feels very delicate to set round 5 to 15 toes, because it feels prefer it requires solely a small flip to make a big change. Total, the few compromises this lens makes really feel effectively justified, and don’t impression usability or the outcomes. 

Conclusion

If you happen to’re on the lookout for a local Z or RF mount huge angle, you don’t have many choices – however this lens ought to undoubtedly be one in every of them. I’m very pleased with the construct and have set, and the efficiency meets the excessive bar set by first social gathering mirrorless lenses.

The lens actually units itself aside from the competitors due to the aperture and mount — for those who want both of these in a large angle, it is a nice choice. Each Canon and Nikon are lacking one thing on the native-mount huge finish that this lens supplies. For Nikon, that is a quick choice, whereas for Canon it is a RF mount huge angle that’s lower than $2,300.

For some, the distinctive traits in a scarce area of opponents will make this lens a should purchase, whereas everybody ought to take into account it a helpful choice for huge protection on mirrorless. At $849, the worth is nice worth, notably when in comparison with the considerably dearer first social gathering choices. The lens is at the moment obtainable in Z mount, RF mount, and E mount.

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