Review: Laowa 9mm 5.6 FF-RL

Introduction

laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Laowa 9mm 5.6 on Sony A7rII

The king is dead, long live the king! After the Voigtlander 10mm 5.6’s field of view has been matched by the Samyang 10mm 3.5 XP and the Laowa 10-18mm 4.5-5.6 it has now been surpassed by this Laowa 9mm 5.6 FF-RL. Can a lens be wider and at the same time better? Let us try to find out!
Lens is being tested on 42mp Sony A7rII and 24mp Leica M10

Sample Images

laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Leica M10 | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/5.6
laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Sony A7rII | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/11
laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Sony A7III | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/11
laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Leica M10 | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/5.6
laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Leica M10 | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/8.0

Many of the sample images in this review can be found in full resolution here.

Disclosure

The Laowa 9mm 5.6 FF-RL was kindly provided free of charge by Venus Optics / Laowa for reviewing purpose for a few weeks.

Specifications / Version History

This is a one of a kind lens, there has not been a 9mm lens before! So far it comes for Sony E-mount, Leica-M mount, L-mount and Nikon Z. I have a look E-mount and M-mount versions. These are the specs of the E-mount version:

    • Diameter: 63 mm
    • Field of view: 135° (diagonally)
    • Length: 74 mm
    • Weight: 373g (without caps)
    • Filter Diameter: – (100 mm holder will be available)
    • Number of Aperture Blades: 5 (straight)
    • Elements/Groups: 14/10
    • Close Focusing Distance: 0.12 m
    • Maximum Magnification: 1:4.8
    • Mount: Sony-E

Because of the different flange focal distance of Leica M cameras the M-mount version is a bit shorter (66 mm) and also a bit lighter (350g) the other specs are the same.

You can already order the lens directly from the manufacturer’s homepage, B&H or ebay.com/ebay.de for $899 (M-mount) and $799 (E/Z/L-mount) (affiliate links)

How wide is it?

 

At the wide end a millimeter makes a big difference, so this Laowa 9mm 5.6 is noticeably wider than the Voigtlander 10mm 5.6, more than the numbers may suggest.

Handling / Build Quality

laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Front element

The Laowa lenses always gave the impression of high build quality but I have the feeling they are still trying to improve.
The lens looks and feels like it is an all metal construction, all the markings are engravend and filled with paint and the new laser engraved Laowa logo on the non removable hood looks pretty cool, too.
The focus ring has perfect resistance and travels roughly 100° from the minimum focus distance (0.12 m) to infinity.
The aperture ring has full-stop click stops and travels ~80° from f/5.6 to f/22.
I was a bit surprised that – despite incorporating a very complex floating elements design – the click stops are not equidistant. This won’t bother the most of you, but it kinda spoils the whole picture for me.

There is no filter thread but a 100mm filter holder is available directly from Laowa, more on that at the end of this chapter.

E-mount exclusive

laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Focus tab on the E-mount version

Unlike the M-mount version the E-mount version features a small focus tab, which is kinda interesting, as these are probably more popular among Leica users than Sony users.

The E-mount version does not feature electronic contacts to communicate with your camera.

M-mount exclusive

laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Rangefinder coupling and 0.7 m click stop

The M-mount version of this lens is rangefinder coupled between 0.7 m and infinity and there even is a click stop at 0.7 m, so you can feel if you leave that range without taking your eye of the rangefinder (not that the rangefinder is particularly useful when using a 9 mm lens).

laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Holes for 6-bit coding

There are also holes included to add 6-bit coding so you can disguise the Laowa 9mm 5.6 as a Leica lens when used on one of the later Leica M-mount cameras.

100mm Filter Holder

100mm filter holder attached to the 9mm 5.6

In collaboration with H&Y Laowa also offers a 100mm square filter holder for this 9mm lens, as was already the case with the Laowa 10-18mm 4.5-5.6. So we again have one of these magnetic filter holders. I will spare you some of the details about this system, you can find it discussed in greater detail in my Laowa 10-18mm review.

Laowa 9mm 5.6 with 100mm filter holder

This time the holder is a single piece and you do not need to remove the lens from the camera to attach it. Furthermore it features a small screw to lock the square filters in place. These are really great improvements over the 10-18mm’s filter holder, believe me.

laowa 10-18mm zoom c-dreamer 4.5-5.6 ultra wide 42mp a7 a7rII a7rIII review sharpness
H&Y 150x100mm magnetic frame

To use your existing filters with this holder you need to buy a magnetic frame for it, they come in 150×100 mm (Grad) and 100×100 mm (Polarizer/ND). The holder does ship with a 150×100 mm frame, but as I am most interested in using a polarizer with this lens I bought a 100×100 mm frame from Amazon this time.

Is there any additional vignetting when using filters?

 

The good news first: at 0° and 90° rotation I see no additional vignetting. These are probably the most used angles for grads and also with a polarizer these translate to maximum and minimum polarization, which is clearly what I am using most.
At roughly 40° rotation you can see a tiny bit of vignetting in the corners.
And also if you use more than one filter (I do not have more than one 100mm wide filter to try) I would definitely expect more additional vignetting.

Vignetting

light falloff

Because of the non removable hood we cannot get decent values on light fall off with our usual method that yield those nice charts.

Nevertheless, I measured around 3.7 EV in the corners on my Sony A7rII at f/5.6 and slightly better values at f/8.0 (3.4 EV) and f/11 (3.3 EV). Like we have seen in the past with other small ultra wide lenses there isn’t much improvement on stopping down; the price you have to pay for the small dimensions.

So vignetting is high, but in line with other small ultra wide angle lenses like e.g. the Voigtlander 10mm 5.6 or 12mm 5.6 or 15mm 4.5.

color cast

Like with other small ultra wide angle lenses there is a slight color cast in the corners. On the Sony A7rII the corners take on a greenish teint while on the Leica the color cast seems to be asymmetrical, something I have already seen with the Voigtlander VM 15mm 4.5 II to a much higher degree. I usually use gradients in Lightroom to correct this color cast.

Sharpness

infinity (42mp Sony A7rII, E-mount version)

laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d

What did I expect here? The Laowa 9mm 5.6 is noticeably wider than the Voigtlander 10mm 5.6 E but pretty much the same size and weight, therefore I would have been happy if the 9mm would not be much worse than the 10mm. To my surprise the 9mm is actually quite noticeably better though.
The 10mm 5.6 really needs f/11 in the corners and even after stopping down and CA correction in post some aberrations remain.
The 9mm 5.6 on the other hand yields actually good corners at f/5.6, in fact better than the 10mm 5.6 ever gets. There is a slight midzone dip though, but it is mostly resolved at f/8.0 and will be hard to detect in actual pictures.

There are two things worth noting though: with lenses this wide mount tolerances can have a noticeable influence on the across frame performance (especially in the midframe), therefore lens A may perform great on camera B but slightly worse on camera C.
Furthermore the corners already look best at f/5.6. This is most likely due to diffraction, as the actual f-stop in the corners is slower than that in the center, therfore the corners are diffraction limited already at the maximum aperture (which is also true for comparable lenses).
But this should not take away from the fact, that I think the performance is astounding for such an extreme yet compact lens.

You can see the Voigtlander 10mm 5.6 E in a direct comparison here.

infinity (42mp Sony A7rII, M-mount version)

laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d

Some people are using different camera systems and many of those prefer M-mount lenses as they can be adapted to a plethora of other mounts, which is not true for E-mount lenses (they can be adapted to Nikon Z though).
So the question is always: what are you giving up when using the M-mount version with adapter instead of the E-mount version?
In the case of this 9mm 5.6: nothing, really. The M-mount version shows a performance on an E-mount camera that is indistinguishable from the E-mount version within the margin of sample variation.

infinity (24mp Leica M10)

laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d

Performance on the Leica M10 is surprisingly similar including the slight also the corners show a very similar performance.

close (0.12m, 1:4.8)


100% crops from center, A7rII

A minimum focus distance of 0.12 m from sensor coupled with a maximum magnification of 1:4.8 is pretty amazing for a 9mm lens. The Laowa 15mm 2.0 offered a similar maximum magnification (1:4.1) but the performance was only good in the center, so I expected something similar here.

Interestingly the Laowa 9mm 5.6 offers really good performance across most of the frame even at these distances. The border regions show a performance almost as good as the center, only the midframe shows a dip in resolution (similar to the situation at infinity).
It fares significantly better here than the Voigtlander ultra wide angle lenses that also do not focus nearly as close.

Distortion

infinity


Sony A7III | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/8.0

The lens shows moderate yet slightly wavy distortion at infinity. Laowa created a profile for Lightroom to correct this which does a reasonably good job, you can download it here.
It also includes vignetting correction but it is too strong, I recommend a value between 20 and 40 here.

minimum focus distance


Sony A7III | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/22

Between 0.3 and 0.12 m focus distance the distortion pattern changes significantly. Close to the minimum focus distance distortion is much higher and you would need a separate profile here, but for all the applications for a 9mm lens with a 12cm minimum focus distance I could think of this should not be an issue.

This is clearly a design trade off that gave us the good across frame sharpness performance at these close distances.

Flare resistance

laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Sony A7rII | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/8.0

As always evaluating flare is a complex matter since you can get any lens to look bad if you push it hard enough and a slight change of scenario can affect results a lot.

The sample above is the worst I could create. With the sun in a certain part of the frame you can create a line of small red ghosts pointing towards the corner.

The Laowa 10-18mm 4.5-5.6 had severe issues with point light sources at night, luckily the 9mm 5.6 fares noticeably better here:

laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Sony A7rII | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/8.0

There are some situations where the Voigtlander 10mm 5.6 E would fare better, but this 9mm’s performance is not bad at all.

laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Sony A7rII | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/11

Coma


100% crops from extreme corner

After the sharpness section this does not come as a surprise: the coma correction is really good.
Still, the parameters do not make the Laowa 9mm 5.6 an obvious choice for astro photography in the first place, there are better options available for this task.

Sunstars


100% crops from center, A7rII

No sunstars at f/5.6 but well defined 10-stroke sunstars between f/8.0 and f/22 as we have also seen on the other recent Laowa ultra wide angle lenses.
If you want to learn more about sunstars have a look at this article.

Chromatic Aberrations

lateral


100% crops from inner midframe, Sony A7rII

Usually ultra wide angle lenses show a high amount of lateral CA. This is surprisingly not the case with the Laowa 9mm 5.6 as the lens is almost free of lateral CA.
The corners are very clean, you really have to look at the midframe to find a small amount of CA, which is easily corrected in post.

longitudinal

As this is a very wide and rather slow lens longitudinal CA (loCA) are nothing to worry about.

Alternatives

Laowa 5.6/9, Voigtlander 5.6/10, Laowa 4.5/11, 4.0/14, 2/15 and Canon TS-E 4/17

You are looking at a review of the widest ultra wide angle lens and you got this far, therefore I doubt the comparably huge and long AF zooms are an alternative to you, but you can still have a look at our Guide to Ultra Wide Angle Lenses for the A7 Series to learn more about these options.

Voigtlander 10mm 5.6 E Hyper Wide Heliar:
My ultra (or hyper?) wide angle lens of choice for the past years.
It is slightly better in terms of flare resistance, but resolution (especially in the corners and at wider apertures), performance near minimum focus distance, lateral CA and coma it is noticeably worse.
Long story short: I sold my 10mm 5.6 and will buy a 9mm 5.6
buy from CameraQuestebay.deamazon.deebay.comamazon.com | B&H for 1099$ (affiliate links)

Laowa 10-18mm 4.5-5.6 C-Dreamer FE:
If you value flexibility and compact size over image quality and you don’t know yet what focal length is the right one for you this may be worth a look.
buy from manfucaturer’s homepageamazon.com | B&H (affiliate links) for $849

Laowa 11mm 4.5 C-Dreamer:
9mm and 11mm are a huge difference in terms of field of view and one would expect the 11mm to perform better – all else equal.
I did compare the lenses side by side and this is not really the case.
The 11mm shows more coma, astigmatism and lateral CA in the corners, distortion is also different, in total less, but a bit wavier. The optical design does also not look as complex and it doesn’t focus as close.
But there are also advantages: it has a 62mm filter thread (widest lens with a normal filter thread), better flare resistance, is ligther and cheaper.
buy from the manufacturer’s homepage for $799 (M-mount) and $699 (E/Z/L-mount) (affiliate links)

Canon TS-E 17mm 4.0L:
To get the same angle of view as the TS-E 17mm (when taking a shift panorama) you need a 10.2mm lens, so this 9mm lens actually allows for perspectives not possible with the TS-E 17mm. The 9mm is also easier to use (less bulky, smaller 100mm square filters, panorama not needed to get to these viewing angles) and flare resistance is a bit better, but you will obviously also end up with less pixels for the same framing. With today’s high resolution sensors this might be a trade off you are willing to take though.
buy from amazon.com | amazon.de | B&H | ebay.comebay.de for $2150 new or $1500 used (affiliate links)

Samyang 10mm 3.5 XP:
I don’t enjoy using a big DSLR lens on a mirrorless camera when there is a smaller alternative, therefore I didn’t try this lens and cannot tell you much about it.

Conclusion

good

  • sharpness and contrast from f/5.6 even in the extreme corners
  • minimum focus distance
  • CA correction
  • coma correction
  • distortion
  • sunstars
  • handling/build quality
  • size/weight
average

  • flare resistance
  • price
not good

  • no electronic contacts
  • vignetting
  • slight green color cast in the corners

As a Sony user:
The last time Laowa dipped its toes in the “ultra-ultra-wide” realm was with the 10-18mm 4.5-5.6 zoom. A lens, judging by its specs, that would be a perfect fit to my shooting style and almost any of my kits. Unfortunately in the end there was simply one disadvantage too much, be it the high distortion, subpar sharpness at the long end, flare resistance or the really annoying filter holder.
Therfore, I was a bit cautious with my expectations here.

But luckily this time I got pleasantly surprised. Not only is the Laowa 9mm 5.6 perceivably wider than the Voigtlander 10mm 5.6, in most areas (especially sharpness, minimum focus distance, coma correction, CA correction) it is also significantly better. Furthermore the Laowa 9mm 5.6 has pretty much the same size, it shares the same weight and the price is also lower.
When it comes to flare resistance the Voigtlander 10mm 5.6 still has a slight edge, but the 9mm is no slouch either.

It is really the absence of electronic contacts and Exif data that spoils the whole picture here, I would have really hoped Laowa could offer these by now. Nevertheless, you will easily be able to recognize the pictures taken with the 9mm lens when you load them to your computer due to its extreme viewing angle.

Lenses in the 9-11mm range, they are never the lenses I take most of my pictures with, but properly used they are often the lenses I take my most striking pictures with.
Therefore I decided to add one of these 9mm 5.6 lenses to my kit, replacing my former Voigtlander 10mm 5.6. Due to size and optical qualities it even challenges my bulky Canon TS-E 17mm 4.0L, something I did not expect.

As a Leica user:

laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Laowa 9mm 5.6 on Leica M10

What I have written about the Sony version applies here as well, but I want to add that the M-mount version has some clever features rarely seen on third-party M-mount lenses, especially the click stop when you leave the rangefinder coupled distance range and the option to easily 6-bit code the lens.

I greatly enjoyed using this lens on the Leica M10, I am sure the sample pictures tell more than a thousand words.

You can already order the lens directly from the manufacturer’s homepage, B&H or ebay.com/ebay.de for $899 (M-mount) and $799 (E/Z/L-mount) (affiliate links)

Further Sample Images

laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Sony A7rII | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/8.0
laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Leica M10 | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/5.6
laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Sony A7rII | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/8.0
laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Leica M10 | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/11
laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Leica M10 | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/5.6
laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Leica M10 | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/5.6
laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Leica M10 | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/5.6
laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Sony A7III | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/11
laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Sony A7III | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/5.6
laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Sony A7III | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/11
laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Sony A7III | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/5.6
laowa 9mm 5.6 ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Sony A7rII | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/8.0

Many of the sample images in this review can be found in full resolution here.

Further Reading

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My name is Bastian and I am your expert here when it comes to ultra wide angle lenses, super fast portrait lenses (ranging from a 50mm f/0.95 to a 200mm f/1.8) and I also have reviewed way too many 35mm lenses. Don't ask me anything about macro or wildlife shooting though.

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67 thoughts on “Review: Laowa 9mm 5.6 FF-RL”

  1. Hi Bastian, interresting lens for canyons and small interiors. I like the sunstars, I put it on my list for time lapsing and full spectrum photography with my converted Z6. Did you see any coma? or testimage of a night-cityscape? Great work! Bjorn

  2. Hi Bastian,

    Wow, I was very excited when I found out that you will be testing the lenses and the 9mm sure looks promising!

    Also, any initial review of the 14mm? Is the optical performance comparable or better than the 9mm? Does it accept 67mm filters like the 11mm?

    Oh I also noticed a small typo in the image containing the lens lineup; it should be 4/14 I think

    1. Ah yes, it is 4/14 of course, thanks for pointing that out!
      This review will be updated later, especially with better product pictures.

      While I received good copies of 9mm and 11mm the 14mm is unfortunately a bit decentered, which is why I am waiting for a second copy right now.
      The 11mm takes 62mm filters and 14mm takes 52mm filters, which might make it a nice match to the Loxia lenses.
      What I can already tell you about the 14mm: flare resistance is better than the 9mm and distortion is very low.

      1. Very interesting lenses! the 9mm is available in the site, but I did not found the 11mm or the 14mm. Are they not yet available? Regards!

          1. Thanks for the answer! This lens is not filter friendly I suppose? What are you doing to equalize sky and fields lightness? Staking? It is a very very attractive lens 🙂

            Thanks a lot for the review!

          2. There is supposed to be a 100mm square filter holder for the 9mm lens, I will check how that one works.
            Generally, the comparably high vignetting helps a bit to not blow out the sky 😉
            On the 10mm 5.6 I was sometimes even using a reverse GND instead of a hard GND.

  3. Thanks! While a 9mm (11mm is pretty wide too, speaking for myself only) is certainly too wide for most applications, a small-ish 14mm that can take normal screw-in filters is very much a dream come true, cant wait for your review and for Laowa to release them!

  4. As always, thank you. This lens looks like it would be awesome for extreme WA work.

    One question for you: Would Laowa have supplied a profile to Phase One for their Capture One software? (A lot of Sony users have been using this for post-processing, rather than Lightroom).

    1. Not that I would be aware of.
      I also don’t know if it is even possible for a third party to create correction profiles for Capture One, Adobe provides the necessary software.

  5. Hi Bastian, thanks for the work done, as always. Any info on availability within EU with good return policy? Duties and sample variation are my main concern.

    Thanks!

    1. I can understand, german customs are also no fun to deal with.
      Laowa Germany said it will be available mid July, I guess other countries should get a shipment around that time, too.
      If you tell me what country you are from I can ask Laowa.

  6. I guess you probably haven’t tested is thoroughly yet….But based on your initial impressions, do you think the Laowa 11mm performs better or worse than the FE Voigtländer 12mm lens?

    1. The Voigtlander 12mm 5.6 E is one of the few ultra wide angle lenses I did not use personally.
      Judging by our review of it and what I have seen from the 11mm 4.5 so far I think they
      are quite similar performers.
      The 11mm shows more distortion but features a 62mm filter thread over none on the 12mm, which would be a benefit for me, but it also lacks the 12mm’s electronic contacts.
      The 12mm 5.6 has already been discontinued and sometimes available with big discount, which makes it an interesting option, too.

  7. Thanks, I’m from Croatia. Companies over here are slow to adopt “exotic” lenses in their rotation to begin with and the return policies are more or less non-existent. I rely heavily on other EU distributors for that reason alone (Germany mostly, but others too). I’ll wait for a couple of weeks, no need to rush. 🙂

    Thanks again!

    1. I never loved the 10mm.
      I sold it, hoping it can be replaced by the Laowa 10-18mm 4.5-5.6, but that lens had one flaw too much in the end, so I ended up buying David’s 10mm (also hoping my first 10mm might have been a faulty copy) but in the end they performed the same.
      Now I am really quite happy with this 9mm, ability to use it on a Sony camera or Leica M10 with little drawbacks is now a welcome feature.
      That the E-mount version won’t have electronic contacts makes it easier for me to make the decision to go for M-mount 🙂

      1. I might have missed it in the review; does your comment mean the Leica version had electronic contacts?

        I have the 12mm Voigtlander but the 11mm will be interesting since it can take filters. The only thing that bothers me, like you said in your review here, is the lack on electronic contacts. I’m thinking I might be able to buy a Leica version (of the 11mm when it’s released) and adapt it to my Sony and solve the problem.

        1. You can google “Leica 6 bit coding” for further reference of how lenses are recognized on a Leica M camera, but to make it short and save you some time: no, it doesn’t.

  8. Thank you for the review – reliable, sensitive and thougthful, as always! For me, this lens would probably not be that useful; but I am looking forward eagerly to hear more about the Laowa 4.0/14mm … I did not succeed to find a good copy of the Laowa 2.0/15mm, and in addition was not happy with the focussing of the latter (for me, there was not enough room between 1m and ∞ in order to focus accurately), so maybe the 4.0/14mm could be a nice option if the focussing would be a bit more generous ;).

    1. 9mm is certainly not for everyone, I agree 🙂
      That is also an interesting note, I will have a look how the focus rings of both lenses compare around infinity.

  9. Hello Bastian, thank you for your kind answer!

    And yes, it would be very helpful if you could compare the handling of the focus rings around infinity! From your review, I infer that the focus ring of the Laowa 9mm/5.6 is a joy to use (you write “the focus ring has perfect resistance and travels roughly 100°”, and the photo shows quite some space between the marks for 1m and infinity), therefore I have some hope that Laowa has improved this in the 14mm/4.0, too … (Both copies of the Laowa 15mm/2.0 which I tried had (for my taste) an extremely stiff focus ring, so it was not possible to rotate it precisely; together with the little room between 1m and infinity, the focussing did not work well for me.)

  10. I might be missing something, but how come you can’t do falloff measurements? The CV 10/5.6 has a built in hood but you were still able to do measurement on it.

  11. As I see you have added some very good new sample photos – congratulations! Venice and Florence are always beautiful, and you have really shown some reasonable use cases for a 9mm lens. 😉

  12. Thank you for your very good review, as usual ! Any news on the Laowa 14 ? I want a ultra wide prime for my personal use and I don’t know what to do : pull the trigger on the voigtlander 15 or wait for the laowa 14… I hope that you’ll get a good sample soon !

  13. Thanks for your work Bastian. I have to say I’m pretty happy with my Laowa 15mm f2 D, but I do feel the need for an uwa or a shift lens, so I’m looking forward to the new Laowa realeases. My only issue is the filter thread. I’m hoping the 11mm will have good optical quality. Can you tell us already something about it? Also, is it possible the 15mm shift will have a rear filter system?

    1. Currently I have no useful information on the 15mm Shift lens (except that it will shift 11mm) that I could share.
      The 11mm, keep in mind I can only compare these two samples I have at hand, shows a similar performance as the 9mm,
      but I would rate the 9mm slightly better (maybe 5-10% better, so not a huge difference).
      I asked the designer and this is in part in fact due to the bulbous front element of the 9mm, that makes designing a lens with such a wide viewing angle easier.
      With the 11mm the design target was to make it compatible with 62mm screw in filters, therefore the front element is smaller and less bulbous,
      so we have a design disadvantage here despite dealing with “easier to design” specifications.
      Today I also received the 100mm square filter holder for the 9mm lens that is significantly better than that of the 10-18mm lens, review will be updated soon.

  14. Really appreciate your tireless efforts reviewing all of these lens, especially the UWAs!

    Having needed the Voigtlander 10mm for some very specific shots I really value what that focal length range can achieve, but I also do bit of astro and have been looking for something wider than my 16-35GM that can hopefully take its filters. I was considering the Voigtlander 12mm with the 77mm filter adapter, but I wasn’t aware of this lens or Laowa’s 11mm (which being a stop faster would be marginally better for astro).

    Between those three, what would you think is the best option? This 9mm is good but would require a whole new investment in filters, while 11mm might be adaptable to my current filter set, but the 12mm might have better image quality? Or see what Laowa has in store for the Argus line?

    As always, thank you.

      1. I had considered it before the 16-35GM came out, but decided against it due to it still having the hassle of adapting filters, the large size, weak coma performance, and limited flexibility for all of those issues. As I do a lot of traveling and don’t see myself needing this focal length range that often, I was just hoping to get something a little more compact, even at the cost of maximum aperture.

  15. Well my Laowa 9mm E-Mount lens arrived today. First impressions: A little difficult to focus in bright sunlight particularly as the infinity focus isn’t the hard stop. I guess I have yet to find the right point for my copy of the lens to focus at infinity

    I managed to get the red sunflares quite often when pointing the lens towards the sun (when the sun is in the edge third of the frame)

    Might be slightly sharper in the corners that the Voigtländer 10mm…although my 60+ megapixel lens definitely challenges this lens

    Vignetting seems to be quite strong on the A7RIV.

    Apart from the the field of view is unique and quite a bit wider than 10mm

        1. I thought I already had the lens correction turned off….but it seems that was on my old camera. Sorry!

          So with the correction turned off the Voigtländer actually seems to have more vignetting and significantly more chromatic aberration. I have no numbers to support this and it’s just based on comparing images.

          I think if I had a lens profile for DXO Labs 3 the vignetting would be easier to manage. Using the vignetting slider removes it to a certain degree but not uniformly across the image.

          Verdict is still out on the corner sharpness….the extra 1mm shows more stretching and I’m not sure how much field curvature there is with this lens….what were your thoughts?

          Either way I’m now stuck with the Laowa as I’ve already sold the Voigtländer 10mm and I need to send it to the new lucky owner.

          Only thing that still bugs me a little bit is the red lens flare…but I guess I will just have to learn to live with it / learn how to avoid it.

          1. The 9mm E-mount sample I have here focuses past infinity which is necessary due to the high mount tolerances of E-mount cameras,
            on the M-mount sample true infinity matches the hard stop.
            As written in the review there is a midzone dip (field curvature) at wider apertures, still performance in these parts of the
            frame is hardly worse than those of the 10mm and then in the corners the 9mm is so much better.

  16. Ich verstehe deine Antwort nicht so ganz – Not sure I understand your reply. The optimum focus point on my lens is somewhere near the 1.2m Marl and not at the infinity symbol. I’m stopping down to F8/F11 so any mid-field dip should not be an issue. Even then the corners on the Sony FE version on my A7R4 are only marginally better (if at all) than the 10mm Voigtländer.

    I’d be interested to see how you find the E-Mount version.

      1. I’ve sent you a message with a download link via Flickr. I think perhaps the A7RIV out resolves this lens and therefore the sharpness at the edges suffers. Have a look and let me know what you think.

  17. Beware with this company Laowa!
    Hi Bastian,
    Thank you very much well written review.
    After I read your review, I decided to buy this lense directly from them. but I realized I ordered wrong mount. So I contacted them to cancel in just after few hours. after few days no response. I wrote again, no response. I wrote them total 5 e-mails. no response. Then after 20 days. I just get email they shipped my order.
    If someone thinking buy this company’s product, I strongly recommend buy through trust worthy distributor.

  18. Hello Bastian:
    I wonder if you could get a little money for promoting tourism in the places which you photograph. That place is beautiful and I would love to see it one day. I don’t own a Laowa 9mm f/5.6 lens or a used Sony A7 camera, but am contemplating to buy them. Wonderful review way more extensive than anything I’veread on DPReview about lenses, not their focus.

    1. my opinion about Laowa 9 mm

      Distortion is too strong, and it is impossible to correct by using Lensprofile provided from Venus optics in Lightroom.

        1. Sorry, Bastian

          I want to withdraw my opinion.
          And I found an interesting thing, distortion is changing according to focus.

          When I set focus at 1.2m for getting a deep depth of field,
          in this case, distortion is strong to correct.

          But when I set focus at infinity ∞ , distortion becomes more natural, and it became easy to correct by lens profile.

          So I decided not to change the focus from infinity for architectural photography.

  19. Thanks for reviewing such a unique lens and making us all more aware of it. Laowa deserve some credit for coming up with such innovative designs.

    I’ll be interested to hear more about the other two Laowa ultrawides you mentioned you’re testing soon. I might want a prime that’s significantly wider than my 15mm Laowa – I just don’t know for sure how much wider I want to go. This widest-possible 9mm, and crop a little when needed? Or should I pick the 11mm, depending on how well it reviews? I find it hard to decide whether 9mm will just look too stretched and extreme in the corners, even in shots where no other focal length will frame what needs to be framed. Would this lens produce OK results when taking extremely tight indoor photos of small rooms etc? Or would it just be “too much”?

    P.S. Lenstip have added their review of the lens – their conclusions are a close match to yours – https://www.lenstip.com/588.1-Lens_review-Venus_Optics_LAOWA_9_mm_f_5.6_FF_RL_Introduction.html

    1. I personally sent this E-mount sample to lenstip and already read their translated polish review 2 days ago 🙂
      As I value the lenstip testing I was also relieved we came to similar conclusions, anything else would have clearly made me question my approach!

      The 11mm 4.5 review, it is mostly finished, but I will wait until the official release to publish it.
      At shared apertures 9mm and 11mm show a smiliar performance.
      I think the 9mm is a slightly better performer in terms of sharpness and contrast and a bit better at closer distances.
      This is mostly due to the higher design freedom introduced by the use of a bulbous front element.

      The 11mm would be my recommendation if you want slightly better flare resistance and the 62mm filter thread, which is surely nice to have.

  20. I’m able to use the filter holder (“L-100”) that came with my Laowa 9mm 5.6 RL with a number of other lenses I have including my Loxia 21, 35, 50 and 85. Do you know anything about the upcoming polarizer filter for this filter holder from H&Y? H&Y said they are working on one. I’m curious whether it is a square filter or if there is a way to attach a circular one.

    1. I have no contact to H&Y and therefore no idea what they are working on, but I doubt that it will be a round polarizer.
      Will see how the holder fits my Loxia lenses though 😊

  21. There may be a very slight light leak from behind with the Loxia as it does not have petals (that the 9mm lens has) to fill in the slots on the mount but I don’t think it would matter. I’d be interested in your thoughts on this.

    I can also fit a screw on polarizing filter on the Loxia lenses under the 100mm filter. It may be a good solution for a minimalist kit – Laowa 9mm, Lox 21, 35, 85. I wish it would work on the Laowa 15mm f2.0 but it is too wide a lens.
    Which 100mm polarizer do you have?

    1. I will have a look how it works with the Loxia lenses.

      I am using a square Haida polarizer, but that was mainly a price driven decision.
      If money was no issue I would have preferred a “Landscape” or “Blue and Gold” polarizer.

  22. Actually, it’s easily to cover up the slight light leak at the rear with a piece of gaffer tape (loose fitting so the holder can still be loosened and tightened for attachment to the lens). Now it works perfectly now with Loxias and also with a few other small circumference lenses.

  23. How is the testing of the other new Laowa (11mm & 14mm) lenses going?

    I’m particularly interested to know how the 11mm lens performs in terms of flaring and edge sharpness….

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