Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D Review

November 12, 2018 | Mark Goldstein |

Conclusion

The Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D is a tiny lens that delivers a big performance, with image quality in particular being its forte. The all-manual design might not be to everyone's taste, but this is certainly the cheapest way for Fujifilm X-shooters to gain an ultra-wide-angle view.

Sharpness is excellent in virtually all of the frame, and even at f/2.8 the fall-off is controlled admirably. As the Zero-D moniker suggests, lens distortions are really well controlled, except for the usual vignetting, which thankfully can be easily removed during post-processing. We expected to find chromatic aberrations in our images but struggled to locate any at all, and where we did, it was minimal and again easily corrected.

The Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D exhibits an impressive level of control over barrel and pincushion distortion. If you use the lens properly by making sure the camera/lens is level and curvature (barrel) distortions in buildings are not present, making it an ideal lens for architecture photographers who can take their time over their setup.

The handling is the area where this lens will have less wide-spread appeal. It's strictly manual-focus only, which means that you'll need to use peaking and focus magnification through live view to obtain critical focusing when shooting at the wider apertures. Thankfully the Fujifilm X-T3 delivers a very nice user experience in this regard.

Just make sure that you set the "Shoot without lens" Button/Dial setting to On, otherwise you won't actually be able to fire the shutter when this lens is attached! This is because of the lack of electrical contacts on the lens, which also means that the camera doesn't recognise and won't record the aperture that is set on the lens. You'll also need to use an automatic shooting mode like aperture priority to ensure accurate metering (or work it out for yourself).

The other handling drawback is a more minor one - the lens hood doesn't lock into place, which led to a few shots that were ruined after the hood had been turned slightly without us noticing. Otherwise, the build quality is excellent considering the affordable price-tag. Note that it's not weather-sealed, though, and we haven’t tested it in really extreme weather conditions to judge how well it holds up.

Overall, though, the Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D is an inexpensive way to get an ultra-wide-angle of view for your Fujifilm mirrorless camera, with no compromises made on image quality despite the price-tag. Highly recommended!

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 4.5