Intro

The Laowa 15mm f4.5 Zero-D Shift from Venus Optics is a particular ultra-wide angle lens: The front-end of the lens could be shifted off the optical axis in any course. This makes it the widest shift lens obtainable for full-frame cameras. The main use-case is to shift the lens as much as keep away from perspective distortions when taking pictures structure or interiors. See the next instance photographs for instance the impact:

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Above: Laowa 15mm f4.5 Zero-D Shift, unshifted (left), shifted up (proper); click on picture for 4k model

The lens is corrected for a picture circle of 65mm diameter which covers full-frame sensors plus permits for 11mm shift. It’s obtainable for Canon EF & RF, Nikon F & Z, Pentax Okay, Sony FE, and Leica L mounts. Plus there’s a lens mount adapter for the Canon EF or Nikon F variations changing them to the Fujifilm GF mount. This makes it attainable to make use of the Laowa on the medium format sensor (44 x 33mm) of a Fujifilm GFX digital camera the place the lens can nonetheless be shifted 8mm with out corners blacking out. The Laowa 15mm f4.5 Zero-D Shift is handbook focus and handbook aperture solely and doesn’t transmit EXIF information to the digital camera.

The lens prices 1400 EUR / 1200 USD / 1250 GBP. The lens mount adapter for Fujifilm G mount is 120 USD. Venus Optics additionally gives a 100mm magnetic filter holder (149 USD) and a particular tripod collar (149 USD) to go together with the lens.

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Details and options

The angle of view of the Laowa 15mm f4.5 Zero-D Shift on a full-frame sensor is 110 levels in its unshifted state and 129 levels when shifted horizontally to the max. I’ll be evaluating the Laowa to the Nikon Z 14-30mm f4.Zero S (“Z Nikkor” for brief). The Z Nikkor may not be a shift lens, however has a Four levels wider angle of view at 14mm focal size than the unshifted Laowa. Most often you would seize the identical scene as with the Laowa by tilting the digital camera with the Z Nikkor up a bit and doing perspective correction in post-processing.

As traditional I’ve rated the options with a [+] (or [++]), when it’s higher than common and even cutting-edge, a [0] if it’s commonplace or simply common, and [-] if there’s a drawback. Dimension and weight had been measured for the Nikon Z-mount model of the lens – which is roughly comparable for all mirrorless mounts. The DSLR variations of the lens are about 30mm shorter and fairly a bit lighter.

Dimension (diameter x size): At 79 x 128mm (3.1 x 5.0in.) the Laowa is of comparable dimension because the Z Nikkor when set to 14mm focal size. [0]

Weight: The all steel barrel brings the burden to 760g (26.Eight oz.). The Z Nikkor is simply 479g + 18g lens hood. [0]

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Optics: The Laowa is a reasonably complicated design with 17 components in 11 teams together with two aspherical and three particular dispersion components. The Z Nikkor has 14 components in 12 teams and gives a fluorine-coating on the entrance ingredient to repel water, mud, and filth and make cleansing simpler. [+]

Closest focus distance is 0.20m (0.66ft.) with a magnification of 1:4.9 which is kind of helpful. But it surely ends in a working distance of solely 0.06m (2.4in.). The Z Nikkor achieves an analogous magnification at double the working distance when zoomed to 30mm focal size. Each lenses don’t prolong whereas focusing and the Laowa achieves a magnification of 1:10 at a distance of 0.28m (0.9ft.), the Z Nikkor at 0.41m (at 30mm focal size). [0]

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Picture stabilization: The Laowa and the Z Nikkor haven’t any optical stabilization. You solely get the built-in sensor-shift stabilization which fashionable mirrorless digital camera our bodies present. Because the Laowa doesn’t present EXIF information to the digital camera you must enter the focal size within the digital camera menu (on a Nikon Z underneath “Non-CPU lens information”) which makes the digital camera stabilization work greatest. [0]

Filter-thread: There’s no filter thread on the entrance or gel-holder on the again. So it’s essential to use some non-standard mounting system and corresponding filters. Laowa gives an optionally obtainable 100mm magnetic filter holder. The Z Nikkor accepts commonplace filters with a 82mm thread. [-]

Auto focus: No, the Laowa is handbook focus solely. The main target ring is 12mm vast with a ribbed steel floor. It turns the best way Canon/Sony customers are used to which is the reverse of what a Nikon consumer expects. Operation of the main target ring could be very clean however requires some drive. The main target ring has a throw of 100 levels which is lengthy sufficient for exact focus. The Z Nikkor has the standard focus-by-wire AF you’ve come to count on from lenses designed for mirrorless cameras with a variable gearing which permits for very exact handbook focus when turned slowly. [-]

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Focus respiratory: The picture turn out to be 2% extra magnified when pulling focus from infinity to 0.28m (1:10 magnification). That is hardly distracting when taking pictures movies. The Z Nikkor has even much less focus respiratory. [+]

Aperture: The Laowa has 5 aperture blades within the blue-ringed model, the red-ringed model has 14. Aperture is operated manually through an aperture ring with 1 cease clicks from f4.5 to f22 and the lens doesn’t switch EXIF information concerning the aperture to the digital camera. The aperture ring strikes easily however is simply 5mm vast with {a partially} ribbed floor and the click-stops are a bit mushy to register correctly. It’s wedged between the main target ring and the shift ring with only some mm house on all sides. That will increase the chance that working one of many three rings would possibly inadvertently transfer an adjoining ring too. The Z Nikkor has an electronically operated aperture and transfers full EXIF information. It additionally gives a multi perform ring which could be assigned to set the aperture. [-]

Shift and rotate: The lens could be shifted alongside one axis 11mm in each instructions. Shifting is completed by turning the ring immediately in entrance of the shift scales. There’s a mushy click-stop at 0mm and the lens has a small screw to lock the shift place. In its default state the shift goes up or down however you’ll be able to flip the front-end of the lens round to shift in every other course – e. g. left/proper. The turning mechanism has laborious stops each 15 levels with a locking latch. You’ll be able to attempt to use the lens at any angle in-between the 15 levels stops however because the rotation isn’t locked it’s simple to inadvertently alter the angle whereas taking pictures. All of the mechanics for the shift and rotate features go away a stable and clean impression. And the shift function along with the quick 15mm focal size makes the Laowa the widest shift lens obtainable for full-frame cameras. The Z Nikkor doesn’t supply shift. [++]

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Lens profile: The lens doesn’t include a lens profile nor does Lightroom or Photoshop present one. So for correcting vignetting and distortions you must depend on handbook settings in post-processing. The Z Nikkor has an built-in lens profile. [0]

Covers full body/FX or smaller. Similar with the Z Nikkor. [+]

Value: At 1400 EUR (incl. 19% VAT) / 1200 USD / 1250 GBP the Laowa isn’t precisely low-cost. The lens mount adapter for Fujifilm G mount is 120 USD. The Z Nikkor prices 1200 EUR / 1300 USD / 1150 GBP. [0]

The lens comes and not using a pouch and there’s no lens hood. The back and front lens caps are included with the entrance cap being product of steel weighing 52g and locking on the bayonet mount – even when the lens is held within the lens help. [0]

Sealing: No, not even a rubber grommet on the lens-mount. So for those who’re taking pictures open air you higher protect the lens from the weather. The Z Nikkor has a rubber grommet on the lens-mount plus additional particular weather-sealing all through the development. [-]

With a rating of 4[-]/7[0]/5[+] the Laowa 15mm f4.5 Zero-D Shift has fairly a mixture of good and never so good/lacking options: It gives the distinctive mixture of ultra-wide protection with shift capabilities however then again doesn’t supply autofocus, automated aperture, EXIF information, or climate sealing.

Equipment

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Venus Optics gives a particular tripod collar (“lens help”) with an Arca swiss type foot for 179 EUR / 149 USD as an additional. It holds the lens on the entrance finish and permits for shifting with out transferring the optical middle of the lens. There may be additionally a mark on the foot for the nodal level of the Laowa 15mm f4.5 Zero-D Shift which is essential for creating panorama photographs by rotating the lens on a tripod.

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1 / 4 of the cumbersome bracket is additional slim to permit entry to the main target ring. The lens help additionally has a bubble degree on the highest to facilitate right alignment. However make no mistake, this bubble degree is way too inaccurate for the job as even just a few levels of misalignment result in perspective distortions.

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The rear facet of the lens help has indentations to safe the lens at numerous angles.

Venus Optics additionally gives a 100mm magnetic filter holder (149 USD) which could be mounted on the bayonet socket on the entrance of the lens:

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The filter holder could be rotated 360 levels and locked with a screw in any place. Sadly I couldn’t lock the screw agency sufficient with out pliers and a whole lot of drive to securely mount the holder on the lens. This hopefully was a singular flaw with my copy of the holder.

Mounting the filter within the holder is straightforward: It merely snaps into place held by magnetic drive. It’s nonetheless simple sufficient to regulate e. g. slide a graduated ND filter to the proper place within the picture. One other screw on the facet of the holder can be utilized to lock the filter in place. This screw labored flawlessly.

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Options

There are a whole lot of ultra-wide lenses in the marketplace however solely few of them supply shift performance. Let’s take a look at these first sorted by focal size. All the lenses are handbook focus solely.

  • The Laowa 15mm f4.Zero is a large angle macro lens with ±6mm shift vary. However shift can solely be used on APS-C/DX sensors, on a full-frame sensor shifting will end in blacked-out corners. The aperture must be operated manually and no EXIF information are transmitted to the digital camera. It’s an authentic DSLR design from 2016 obtainable in a large variety of DSLR mounts and likewise Leica L mount and Sony E mount for mirrorless cameras. The lens is small and light-weight and prices 560 EUR / 500 USD / 500 GBP.
  • Canon’s TS-E 17mm f4.Zero L Tilt/Shift lens gives ±12mm of shift and ±6.5 levels of tilt and could be rotated 90 levels. It’s a design from 2009, obtainable in EF mount, and prices 2050 EUR / 2150 USD / 2260 GBP. The angle of view is 6 levels narrower than from the Laowa.
  • The Nikon PC 19mm f4.0E ED is an authentic DSLR design from 2016 obtainable in F mount. It gives ±12 mm shift and ±7.5 levels of tilt and could be rotated ±90 levels. The lens is by far the most costly of the options listed right here at 3300 EUR / 3400 USD / 3200 GBP. The angle of view is 13 levels narrower than from the Laowa.
  • Samyang has the T-S 24mm f3.5 ED AS UMC, an authentic DSLR design from 2012 obtainable in a large variety of DSLR mounts in addition to Fujifilm X, Sony E, and MFT mount for mirrorless cameras. The lens gives ±12mm of shift and ±8.5 levels of tilt and could be rotated 90 levels for tilt/shift and tilt alone. The aperture must be operated manually and no EXIF information are transmitted to the digital camera. Costs are 650 EUR / 650 USD / 660 GBP. With its comparatively lengthy focal size of 24mm the angle of view is a hefty 26 levels narrower than from the Laowa. So the Samyang may not suit your function.
  • Sony apparently doesn’t supply a tilt and/or shift lens of their very own.

Then there’s a entire bunch of ultra-wide prime lenses with out shift capabilities. The widest of them corrected for full-frame cameras with rectilinear projection is Laowa’s 9mm f5.6 FF RL with a whopping 135 levels angle of view. It’s obtainable for Nikon Z, Sony E, and Leica L mount and prices 980 EUR / 800 USD / 500 GBP. There are others like Samyang or IRIX which provide lenses with 10mm, 11mm, 12mm focal lengths which cowl bigger angles of view than the unshifted Laowa 15mm f4.5 Zero-D Shift and will simply produce comparable photographs – after perspective correction in post-processing. None of these lenses has autofocus and lots of have a handbook aperture and don’t produce EXIF information.

Two ultra-wide angle lenses

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Above: Laowa 15mm f4.5 Zero-D Shift (left), Nikon Z 14-30mm f4.Zero S (proper)

And eventually: ultra-wide zoom lenses which go not less than 14mm vast. All of these lenses have autofocus, routinely operated apertures and transmit EXIF information – aside from the Laowa 10-18mm f4.5-5.6. Under I’ve listed solely these which aren’t vastly costlier than the Laowa 15mm f4.5 Zero-D Shift:

  • Nikon’s Z 14-30mm f4.Zero S from 2019 covers 114 levels on the vast finish and prices 1200 EUR / 1300 USD / 1150 GBP.
  • Sigma has the 12-24mm f4.Zero Artwork from 2016 protecting 122 levels on the vast finish. It’s a cumbersome lens with a weight of 1.15 kg. Out there in Nikon F, Canon EF and Sigma SA mount it additionally can be utilized through mount adapters on mirrorless cameras from Nikon, Canon and Sony. It prices 1400 EUR / 1600 USD / 1270 GBP.
  • The Sigma 14-24mm f2.Eight DG DN Artwork is a brand new mirrorless design from 2020 which covers 114 levels on the vast finish. It’s obtainable for Sony E and Leica L mount and prices 1430 EUR / 1299 USD / 1299 GBP.
  • Sony’s FE 12-24mm f4.Zero G from 2017 covers 122 levels on the vast finish and prices 1500 EUR / 1770 USD / 1400 GBP.
  • Laowa has the 10-18mm f4.5-5.6 from 2019 protecting 130 levels on the vast finish. It’s obtainable for Sony E, Nikon Z, and Leica L mount and prices 1000 EUR / 850 USD / 900 GBP.

As you’ll be able to see there are a variety of ultra-wide options for those who don’t prohibit your self solely to lenses with shift capabilities. To present you an impression of the protection right here is the angle of view that the Laowa 15mm f4.5 Zero-D Shift covers (with out shifting) in comparison with the Nikon Z 14-30mm f4.Zero S at 14mm:

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Angle of view on full-frame digital camera: Laowa 15mm f4.5 Zero-D Shift (left), Nikon Z 14-30mm f4.Zero S at 14mm (proper), click on picture for bigger model

The next panorama is from two pictures with the Laowa mounted within the lens help and maximally shifted left and proper. Stitching was accomplished with Picture Merge in Lightroom utilizing a cylindrical projection with Auto Crop utilized. Shot on a Nikon Z7 this ends in a 72MP picture.

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Panorama: Laowa 15mm f4.5 Zero-D Shift at f5.6, shifted 11mm left and proper; click on picture for 4k model, right here for big authentic

The following panorama was shot with the Nikon Z 14-30mm f4.Zero S at 14mm focal size rotated on the tripod to cowl an analogous angle of view because the Laowa above. Stitching was accomplished in Lightroom utilizing a perspective projection from three photographs (left, middle, proper) as Picture Merge wouldn’t produce an accurate projection from solely two photographs.

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Panorama: Nikon Z 14-30mm f4.Zero S at 14mm f5.6, turned left and proper; click on picture for 4k model, right here for big authentic

The variations between each photographs are minimal however there’s one factor to notice: The Nikon may simply have captured a good wider panorama by turning extra to the left and proper whereas shifting with the Laowa is maxed out.

Subsequent try my high quality outcomes!

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