Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D Review

August 15, 2017 | Tim Coleman | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star

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Reviews of the Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D from around the web. »

As an architectural photographer I often need fairly wide angle lenses to get enough coverage for interiors and exteriors of buildings. It’s for this reason that I have the rather hefty Canon EF11-24mm f4L lens, along with the EF8-15mm fish-eye and TS-E17mm tilt/shift lens. The Laowa 12mm f/2.8 is a fully manual lens, in that you have to focus it and you have to set the aperture.
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Kickstarter lens project brings us the 12mm f/2.8 rectilinear lens from Venus Lens. That is, not a fish-eye, but the widest lens so far available for DSLRs that will give us straight lines at the image edges and be suitable for architectural shots. There are some very exciting designs now coming from Chinese manufacturers and the emphasis here is definitely not on copying existing designs but on breaking new ground with specialist optics that aim for very high standards. So let's see how this new lens matches up to its aspirations.
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The Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D Lens features nearly the widest rectilinear (not a heavily-barrel-distorted fisheye lens) focal length available in a full frame compatible lens (a pair of 11mm options currently hold that record) and while that extreme wide angle of view alone creates a great attraction for this lens, the wide f/2.8 aperture makes this lens exceptional. As of review time, no other full frame lens wider than 14mm has an aperture wider than f/4. The value of this lens continues well beyond these features – how about the near-zero linear distortion hinted at by the "Zero-D" in the name? Currently, no other 12mm lens option has so little distortion. The small size and the quality build of this lens are additional desireables.
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