Review: Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D for Sony FE

Introduction

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review
Sony A7rII with Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D

The Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D is a lens I have  been waiting for eagerly since I took a few snaps with the prototype at Photokina in 2016. It is one of the very few lenses making actual use of the narrow flange distance of mirrorless cameras.
But does it only look good on paper or can it keep up with my high expectations? Find out in this review! 
This is a Rolling-Review, bits and pieces will be added as we get to know the lens better.
Last Update: Review finalized (12/03/17)

Sample Images

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review architecture landscape sunstars
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/8.0
laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review coma astro astrophotography milkyway milky way
Sony A7s | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/2.0 | higher resolution
laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review coma astro astrophotography milkyway milky way
Sony A7s | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/2.0

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/2.0
laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review architecture
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/8.0

You can find most of the shots in this review in full resolution here.

Specifications / Version History

I am reviewing the final production model here which has the following specifications:

  • Diameter: 77mm
  • Field of view: 110° (diagonally)
  • Length: 83mm
  • Weight: 520g
  • Filter Diameter: 72mm
  • Number of Aperture Blades: 7 (straight)
  • Elements/Groups: 12/9
  • Close Focusing Distance: 0.15m
  • Maximum Magnification: ~1:4.1
  • Mount: E-mount

The lens can be bought directly from the manufacturer’s online shop (affiliate link) for 849$. Or you can get it for 1100€ at amazon.de (affiliate link).

Disclosure

The Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D was kindly provided free of charge by Venus Optics / Laowa for reviewing purpose for a few weeks. The first sample showed some centering issues but we got a replacement that was well centred. I liked the lens so much that I decided to buy it to add it to my kit.

Handling / Build Quality

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review
Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D

The other two Laowa lenses we tested so far featured a good build quality, and the 15mm 2.0 is no exception. Most parts of the outer casing seem to be made from metal and the lens feels very dense and solid. Markings are engraved and filled with paint.

The focus ring has  (for my taste) pretty much perfect resistance; a little more than the Zeiss Loxia lenses, maybe a tad less than the Zeiss ZM or Voigtlander lenses. I am not yet sure about the throw of the focusing ring, it is about ~85° from the minimum focus distance (0.15m) to 1.0m and only ~5° from 1.0m to infinity. Infinity is exactly in the center of the infinity symbol on my sample, and you can focus a bit behind that. This is a very good approach, though an even better one would be an adjustable infinity hard stop, but no one is doing that…
The aperture ring has one-stop click-stops and it takes about 45° from f/2.0 to f/22.

We have seen quite a few different methods to “de-click” the aperture ring so far, and we can now add another one, as this lens incorporates a small lever for de-clicking the aperture ring. It is very close to the aperture ring and it might be possible to turn it by accident. Time will tell if this happens in the field.

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review
Laowa 15mm 2.0, close up of aperture de-click lever

Part of the package is also a petal-shaped lens hood which seems to be made from aluminium and fits quite nicely. The hood of the second sample does not sit as tight as the one from the first though.

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review
Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D – aluminium lens hood

Unlike the Zeiss Loxia or the the Voigtlander E-mount lenses the Laowa does not feature electronic contacts to communicate with the camera, so there is no Exif data transmitted.

Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D FE with NiSi Filters 100mm V5 holder
Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D FE with NiSi Filters 100mm V5 holder

Unlike most of the ultra wide angle competition that needs lens specific 150mm+ holders this lens does not only take standard 72mm screw in filters but also works with 100mm square filter systems (only tested with NiSi 100mm V5 holder).

Vignetting and colorcast

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review

The small size takes its toll here: wide open vignetting amounts to 2.9 EV, at f/2.8 it is 2.3 EV and stopped down further pretty much remains 2.0 EV. This is still less than the Samyang 14mm 2.8 (MF) or the Voigtlander UWA primes, but also more (especially stopped down) than the new Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art (see lenstip.com review).

Also similar to the Voigtlander UWA primes and the Laowa 12mm 2.8 this lens showed some green color cast in the corners on the Sony A7rII. The visibility depends highly on the subject and is more pronounced with very bright backgrounds:

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/2.0

I am pretty sure few of you will be bothered by this, many probably won’t even notice. Nevertheless – for the more critical among you – this is a real world shot where I can see it:

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/8.0

Sharpness

centering (second sample)

The second sample of this lens we received showed a significantly better centering quality with even corner sharpness.

infinity

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review

The center always looks great, stopping down to f/2.8 (or further) only slightly increases contrast. The midframe does not lag far behind. The corners are quite decent already wide open, by f/4.0 they look very good and best at f/5.6. The negative effects of diffraction can be seen at f/11 across the whole frame.
Nevertheless, f/2.0 is certainly usable when the amout of light demands to shoot at this aperture.
There is some very slight  field curvature at infinity, but this is really marginal and shot-to-shot focus variation is probably higher.
The corner crops have been pushed by 2 EV in post to reveal more details.

Despite the good centering quality of the second sample of the lens there was one strange issue with it: in only one of the 4 quadrants there is a small dip in sharpness in the midframe which is still visible at f/5.6. We weren’t able to pin down the reason for this and informed the manufacturer who promised to look into this. We hope this is a rare exception.
Update: over the last 3 months I have not heard of another sample exhibiting this issue.

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/5.6 | 100% crop midframe area

close focus

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review sharpness contrast resolution

With the minimum focus distance of just 0.15 m you can get really close to your subject and in this case I mean so close you are shading the subject with your lens. In the center the performance is already excellent at f/2.0, the floating element design pays off here. Towards the borders the resolution never reaches levels as good, not even on stopping down considerably:
laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review sharpness contrast resolution

But it is hard  to blame the lens for this: the competition doesn’t allow focus nearly as close, and  many samples I am showing here wouldn’t have been possible at all.

Distortion

Despite the “Zero-D(istortion)” in the name of the lens there is some slight barrel distortion visible even at infinity. Nevertheless, it is still very low for a lens this wide with a retrofocus design and it does not seem to be wavy as well (and therefore easy to correct in post if necessary by dialing in +5 in PS or LR).


Before: uncorrected | After: corrected (+5)

Coma

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review

The astrophotographers among you probably hoped for a better performance here. There is slight coma visible wide open which improves a bit on stopping down to f/2.8, and a whole lot on stopping down to f/4.0.
This is not a bad performance; you can see the often recommended Samyang 14mm 2.8 (MF) in a direct comparison here:


Before: Laowa 15mm 2.0 @ f/2.0 | After: Samyang 14mm 2.8 @ f/2.8


Before: Laowa 15mm 2.0 @ f/2.8 | After: Samyang 14mm 2.8 @ f/2.8

The Samyang has a slight edge, but let’s see how they compare when shooting stars in the next section.

Use for Astrophotography

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review coma astro astrophotography milkyway milky way
Sony A7s | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/2.0

When shooting stars coma often is not as obvious as when shooting cityscapes. So let’s take a look at some stars:

Before: Laowa 15mm 2.0 @f/2.0, 10s | After: Laowa 15mm 2.0 @  f/2.8, 20s | A7rII | 100% crop from upper right extreme corner

There is a slight improvement on stopping down as we have already seen in the last section.

Now let us compare the Laowa 15mm 2.0 to the Samyang 14mm 2.8 (MF). Keep in mind though the camera position hasn’t changed between shots so we are looking at the Laowa’s extreme corner and an area slightly before that on the Samyang:

Before: Laowa 15mm 2.0 @  f/2.8, 20s  | After: Samyang 14mm 2.8 (Nikon) @f/2.8, 20s | A7r|| | 100% crop extreme corner

The Samyang shows less coma, but you can also notice the Laowa’s shot is visibly brighter. By my calculation the difference is half a stop so I thought it would be fair stopping down the Laowa to f/3.4 to have the same exposure as the Samyang shows at f/2.8 in this area:

Before: Laowa 15mm 2.0 @  f/3.4, 20s  | After: Samyang 14mm 2.8 (Nikon) @f/2.8, 20s | A7r|| | 100% crop extreme corner

The Samyang still has a slight edge but the difference has become quite small now. Still, the Laowa is not the revelation many astrophotographers have hoped for, but keep in mind so far no lens is. I will talk about this a bit more in the “Alternatives” section.  Don’t get me wrong here, this is not a bad performance, just not as good as many had wished.

Update: I finally had the chance to shoot the milky way with this lens. As you already know coma correction is not perfect, but if the slight coma in the corners bothers you or not you need to decide for yourself. I have uploaded an A7s Raw file here for you to download and see for yourself.
A huge benefit of the fast aperture is the abilty to actually see the milky way in the viewfinder, which makes framing at night a lot easier.

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review coma astro astrophotography milkyway milky way
Sony A7s | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/2.0

Sunstars

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review sunstars blende blendensterne

Most of you already know I prefer 10-bladed aperture diaphragms and I really wish this lens would feature one as well. With it’s 7 aperture blades the Laowa produces sunstars which are not so well defined in my opinion, as the rays differ in length. Stopping down further doesn’t really change anything here.
This is a highly subjective topic so you might want to have a look at this article and decide for yourself, what you prefer.

Flare resistance

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review flare
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/16

With the sun near the center of the frame there are no problems whatsoever. As with many other lenses I have reviewed the point light source placed near the corner leads to the worst results, which means small rainbow artifacts in the opposite corner.
There is one position though, which will result in a local loss of contrast, but I found even the slightest reframing will solve this.

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review flare
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/16

This is still a much better performance than many other ultra wide angle lenses (especially the ones with bulbous front element) can offer. I think the lens behaves similar to the Voigtlander 15mm 4.5 E III in this aspect, which also features a rather small front element.
Update: I found the performance to be a bit worse near the minimum focus distance.

Chromatic aberrations

lateral


Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D |  f/11  | CA 100% crop before/after extreme corner

There are lateral CA present which can still be quite easily corrected in post.

longitudinal

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/2.0 | 50% crop

Longitudinal CA (loCA) are nothing to worry about with this lens.

Bokeh

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review flare close up macro
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/2.0 | higher resolution

Not a category I usually pay attention to when reviewing ultra wide angle lenses, but with the Laowa 15mm 2.0 the situation is a little different. Because of the great minimum focus distance and the fast aperture of f/2.0 you really have to pay attention to your plane of focus as it can be very thin. The quality of the bokeh is very good, much better than that of any other lens with a comparable focal length I have used so far. Even circles of light in the background are evenly lit (despite the use of aspherical elements, see Zeiss Batis 18mm 2.8 for comparison):

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review bokeh
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/2.0
laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review flare close up macro
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/2.0

Alternatives

Samyang 14mm 2.8 ED:
This is probably the alternative you are all thinking about. Cheaper, worse build quality, a tad better coma correction, worse flare resistance, hilarious distortion, worse vignetting wide open, way bigger and no filter thread. There are quite some quality assurance issues with this lens, I have had six of these lenses mounted to my camera, and four of them were badly decentered (3 of them new from store).
Update: In the meantime I replaced this lens with the Laowa 15mm 2.0.

Voigtlander 15mm 4.5 Super Wide Heliar III (E):
Similar build quality, a little smaller and also lighter. Sharpness is comparable, the Laowa might have the edge stopped down to f/5.6 or further in the corners though (I haven’t shot them side by side). The first batch seems to have been troubeld by centering issues.
The Laowa is more than 2 stops brighter which is a whole lot and makes it much better suited for astrophotography, but for blue hour shooting or having the sun inside the frame I prefer the 10 blade aperture of the Voigtlander. The Voigtlander may has a smaller 58mm filter thread, but because of the non removable hood using a filter system (or a bigger filter with a step down ring) poses quite the problem, which is not the case with the Laowa.
This is certainly not an easy decision. Don’t try to base it on the minimal sharpness differences, think about astrophotography, sunstar rendering and filter usage.

Sigma 14mm 1.8 HSM Art:
In terms of light gathering capabilities this is the only real contender. From an engineering point of view this is a spectacular lens, but not one I would like to use personally  because with an adapter it weighs almost 3 times as much as this lens, is huge by comparison and needs gigantic filters. Flare performance doesn’t look too great either and there also seem to be centering issues.
From what I have seen so far coma performance does not seem to be significantly better, but vignetting (especially stopped down) does.

Samyang 14mm 2.4 Premium:
I did not yet have the chance to try this one.

Irix 15mm 2.4:
At first I was very much intrigued by this lens, but it turned out to be so big, and flare resistance looks so bad, that I lost interest.

Preliminary Conclusion

good

  • unique combination of maximum aperture, size and optical qualities
  • excellent sharpness wide open at all distances in the center
  • very good sharpness stopped down even in the extreme corners
  • correction of longitudinal CA
  • minimum focus distance
  • bokeh
  • distortion
  • build quality
  • size
  • standard 72mm filter thread
average

  • vignetting
  • sunstars
  • weight
  • flare resistance
  • correction of lateral CA
  • coma correction
not good

  • no exif data

When putting together the chart above,  I noticed there is no weakness that really stands out to me (so far). This was interestingly also the case with the Laowa 12mm 2.8 Zero-D.
I still think the rating of a few aspects is debatable, so let me explain why I rated as I did:
Vignetting is quite pronounced but the Laowa still fares better here than the Samyang 14mm 2.8 (MF) or the Voigtlander 15mm 4.5 III.
The sharpness at closer distances away from the center is nothing to write home about, but this is also the only lens in this segment (apart from the Laowa 15mm 4.0 macro) that lets me focus as close.
Let’s be honest, we are all a bit disappointed by the coma performance. But when thinking about lenses that fare better I end up with a very short list, which so far only contains the Samyang 14mm 2.8 (MF) and maybe the Samyang 14mm 2.4 Premium.
The sunstars are my biggest personal concern. I would have so much preferred a 10-straight-blade-diaphragm as can be found in the Loxia or Voigtlander lenses.

When I first heard about this lens I thought it sounded almost too good to be true. But despite the few shortcomings this is in fact a pretty astonishing lens the guys at Laowa have put together. I also tend to think it is the most versatile ultra wide angle lens I have used so far:
It lets me take crazy close up shots, I can use standard filters on it, build quality is top notch, the size makes it a lens I want to put in my bag and yes, it can also be used for astrophotography. Personally I prefer it to the Samyang 14mm 2.8 (MF) for astrophotography because of the more even exposure and the speed advantage.

The lens can be bought directly from the manufacturer’s online shop (affiliate link) for 849$. Or you can get it for 1100€ at amazon.de (affiliate link).

Sample images

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/8.0
laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review architecture landscape sunstars
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/8.0
laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review architecture landscape sunstars
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/2.0
laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/5.6
laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review architecture
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/11
laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/8.0
laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/8.0
laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review sunset sunrise flare sun contralight contralit backlit
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/8.0
laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review flare close up macro
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/2.0
laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/2.0
laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review bokeh
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D | f/2.0

You can find most of the shots in this review in full resolution here.

Further Reading

The following two tabs change content below.
My name is Bastian and for many years I have been mostly shooting Nikon DSLRs. As of today I have made my transition from Nikon to Sony and I am mainly using small but capable manual lenses. My passion is landscape photography but I also like to delve into other subjects from time to time.

51 thoughts on “Review: Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D for Sony FE”

  1. Congratulations on finally getting this sample!
    I have experienced two prototypes, both visibly de-centered on my a7r2 body. Yours seem fine from the sample pictures.
    It’s a lens from my country which we have very high expectations, but of course I’m looking forward that we can reveal as many shortcomings as possible during the pre-production tests. I’m going to test some night sky shots as soon as weather clears up. Wish you have fun with it!

    1. Hey there,
      I think I unfortunately have to dissapoint you: this sample also shows a slight decentering on my A7rII.
      The chapters covering this will be added today.

      1. Sorry to hear that. It’s too bad for a fast ultra-wide which might be otherwise stellar.
        Please do join me in urging Laowa to improve quality control in the test feedbacks. I really hope they can do better in the later mass production.

  2. Hi Bastian, thanks for your great lens testing work.

    With a look on the sample photos your preliminary evaluation summary feels too positive for me.

    E.g. vignetting is very strong and to my opinion a clear obstacle of the lens and limiting its value. E.g. in available light photography. That is not average but not good/bad.

    As well coma in astro application is not convincing me and for my feeling not good. I have 30 years old primes that show less coma. But if you would take a modern Batis or a Firin as benchmark, I feel that the D-Dreamer is far behind.

    From what I have seen so far I assume that the relatively cheap IRIX 2.4/15 has less coma image defects. So far I could not find a direct comparison of both newcomers. Do we have a price tag for the Laowa? Thanks!

    1. Have a look at the competition’s vignetting: The Samyang 2.8/14 seems to be close to 5 stops, the 2.4 SP version above 4 stops. The Sigma 1.8/14 is above 3 stops. The Irix 2.4/15 is close to 5 stops. 2.9 stops are a lot but better than average for a 15mm.

      As mentioned in the review the price in the US will be $849, we don’t know the price in € yet.

      1. Hi Phillip. I think the vignetting of Sigma 14/1.8 is around 2-2.3 EV. Bulbous lenses have some advantages in this aspect.

          1. Thanks Phillip. I checked their vignetting data and did think they might slightly overestimate them, comparing to other reviews including Photozone and Lenstip.

      1. Bastian: Of course there are no no bright and brilliant 15mm lens of this age. I refer to less extreme Distagons with really low coma. Extraordinary good modern astro-performers Batis or Firin are longer, too.

        Philip: where do you have 5 stops vignetting for the Irix from. I cannot believe this value. Seidel and others recommend this lens for astro use and I have seen decent images. With 5 (FIVE) stops vignetting it would be useless in this application. The vignetting value I remember (?) is around three stops. That would be quiete a lot, too.

        Thanks for the price indication. Could be a bit below 1k Euros in Germany then. That is not cheap. For what I have seen and red so far, I feel relative to the price indication, ratings are too positive. Personally I would not spend that much money for a lens with obvious weak points.

        Maybe i am bit critical. Let’s wait for further findings and Bastian’s final evaluation.

        Edward: Loxias straight apperture blades force sun stars. In astro application sun star appearance can be much disturbing. Generaly I see sun star tuned lenses critical, Imho the image look is oftenly too far away from natural. Now that I own a Loxia, I feel quite disturbed from sun star image defects.

  3. Difficult times and expectations. Looking for an ultra-wide “Astro-lens”. Until now using most of the time the SY 14mm f2.8 or the Loxia 21mmf2.8. The SY 24mm f1.4 is nice as well wide open.
    See: https://vimeo.com/209420902
    SY 14mm, nice lenses but “only” f2.8. Plus the need to put extra lenses in the already heavy photo-bag.
    Have the Sony 16-35 F4.0 and 10mm Voigt, very happy with these lenses. Must say that I’m using the Voigt with the bombo adapter and this combo doesn’t produce to much problems.
    Thinking about the Sony f2.8 16-35mm against my f4, seems promising, combining landscape and Astro, any test foreseen for this lens in the future ?
    But f2.0 or less is very nice for Astro, the Sigma 14mm seems quit good when looking for a decent super-wide for Astro purposes.
    But heavy in weight and price, but the Laowa seems to produce nice results as well….for about half price and weight and offers the possibility to instal filters.
    Or wait for a Loxia 12 or 14mm f2.8, could be the next in line ?

  4. yes, in addition to better direct optical performance, the Samyang is chipped. That means in cam Raw correction of CA in the IlCE will be feasible. As well distortion and vignetting depending on the mode setting. The Laowa here does not contain any electronics. It is a pure mechanical retro-like lens at the price of a modern mechatronics lens.

    1. Despite the electronic contacts on the Samyang 14mm 2.4 you won’t get the
      benefits from native FE lenses like automatical distortion and vignetting correction
      and the automatical choice of the correct lens profile in Lightroom.
      The only difference will be the Exif data which might not even be correct
      with the Samyang lens (Canon cameras display 2.5 instead of 2.4 as I have read here).
      So in these cases I don’t see any benefit of using the Samyang over the Laowa, except for the Exif data.

      Do you have a side by side comparison of Coma between these two lenses?
      I don’t, so I can’t tell you which one is better and to what degree. If you do: please share.

  5. I am a bit surprised about your latest statements, I would wonder, if your theories around Samyang handicaps are fully correct.

    Other E-Mount licenced and chipped lenses – Tokina Firin for example – are fully supported by Sony camera bodies.
    Lenses have the an ability to encode and transmit aperture, distance and optical data to the camera body. This is making this lenses fully suitable in terms of using MF assist function, 5 axis image stabilization and view finder electronic distance scale. Lens CPU provides optical correction data for contributing to final image processing inside the camera.

    It would be a negative surprise, if Samyangs modern E-Mounts would be just basic performers in colaboration with Sony ILCEs. Where do you have this information from that camera-interaction of latest Samyang mechatroncis E-Mount lenses is handicaped and limited to EXIF hand-over?

    Why do you believe, that LR does not provide automatic correction for the Samyang 24/f2.4 as for other E-Mount lenses. Is there a qualified source for that?

    Imho and knowledge there is much more advantage from mechatronics E-Mount lenses over pure mechanical lens concepts than stated in this review.

    1. There is no native E-mount Samyang 14mm f/2.4, it is only available in Canon EF and Nikon F mount.
      You probably mixed that up with the Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 which I didn’t yet use as well (partly because I didn’t hear too great things about it, it has no filter thread, I don’t want AF in an UWA lens etc.).

  6. https://www.sonyrumors.co/samyang-announced-premium-mf-14mm-f2-4-lens-for-sony-e-mount-cameras/

    As long as it is not available es pre-sales sample, one can take the EF-version as benchmark. It should not have poor corner sharpness and significantly less coma defects as the Laowa here. I wonder, that in your summary poor corner sharpness is not mentioned. As well as missing electronics is a real drawback for 2017 released lens. It is not just “missing EXIFx”.

    Having no electronics in this lens means: there is no camera interaction as needed for in-body stabilization, distance metering, automatic modes or Raw editor feeding in post capturing images made with this lens.

    Considering optical and interaction limitations price level could be mentioned under cons, too,

    Just my opion. Presently I cannot imagine to by a Laowa for the mentioned reasons and I see your summary here as quite positive.

    1. That site’s source is the press release Bastian just linked to. Which doesn’t mention an E-mount version. The fact that you can still only buy it in F- or EF-mount 10 months later should be is even more evidence that you are wrong.

  7. Weren’t waiting for the Laowa E-Mount not even longer than a year? But maybe the E-Mount version Samyang indeed will not come as announced from Sony circles as you state. Could be that you are right.

    The Laowa will not directly benefit from that. This lens is old-style “naked” opto-mechanical device without camera interaction and lens comensation. It cannot even transmit Exifs for the image meta data for later processing. The optical performance does not compensate for this obstacles. There are weaknesses, too and the lens feels quite overprized.

    For IRIS UWW mechatronical lenses, meanwhile a specific E-Mount smart adapter was introduced. Samyang with the full electronics know-how could easily follow this example, if they see need.

    Much better would be of course, a lighter e-mount tuned premium ultra wide prime model. Samyang, Sony, Tokina, Zeiss, maybe Sigma, will hopfully introduce such a lens utilizing their state-of-the-art technologies including electronics.

    1. “Samyang with the full electronics know-how could easily follow this example, if they see need.” You know about the Samyang FE AF 2.8/14? I think that lenses performance is good proof of how wrong you are with your statement.

      I would never choose that one over the Laowa because in the end results count and not having exifs is a small nausience but in the end it just costs a few seconds here and there with no influence on the results.

      Btw: I see little sense in continuing this discussion only to repeat asking for better evidence and not getting any. You are free to voice your opinion here but unless it is backed by solid evidence do not expect a reply in the future.

  8. Indeed there is no further interest of continueing reading and discussing here.

    There is too strong pushing and defending of brands and products away from state-of-the-art performance including weighted rating.

    1. Of course certain ratings are subjective, no denying that.
      This is discussed in detail in the conclusion, which I actually doubt you have read yet.
      There is a concept in the rating of good (= better than average lens in this segment) average and not good (= worse than average in this segment).
      And having used and owned many lenses in that segment myself has of course a strong influence on these ratings.
      Even better are direct comparisons which demand lots of time and effort but nevertheless I try to include them if I think they offer meaningful insight (like the Coma comparison to the Samyag 14mm 2.8 DSLR/MF).
      Still, if one or two lenses are (or might be) better in one segment (let’s take “Coma” as an example) doesn’t necessarily mean the lens we are looking at is worse than the average lens.
      So if you put strong weight on electronic contacts for automatical zooming in, internal corrections AND coma performance and you don’t care about the other benefits over the competition this might indeed not be the ideal lens for you (seems you got that out of the review, which might be the point of it).
      I still wish you luck finding a lens that meets your demands, as I don’t know of any that exists and ticks all these boxes you are looking for.

  9. Kudos for your gentlemanly handling of this contentious viewer, Phil and Bastian. I might agree with him on a point or two but wouldn’t discount your excellent efforts to portray this lens in an honest light. Knowledgeable shooters will understand the context of a features vs. performance comparison and make the proper conclusions needed to ultimately ‘understand’ each lens you review.

    I also take any evaluation of what is presented here as a personal opportunity to learn what to look for and judge in my equipment choices and image results without countering every word written in a review. Neither fair or constructive. Your lens testing articles are a smart idea we should all take more time to assess what we are using. A simple lens test at the time of purchase saves a lot of headaches before an important shooting session. (Might be scary to imagine what we will find as flaws in our favorite glass!)

    Remaining neutral with comments based on factual results will always preserve your credibility more highly than any opinion that could skew our perception. I appreciate the measurements you use to determine the level of performance vs. any characteristics or flaws that must be endured in any lens.

    Please continue providing us with these valuable user-level reviews to aid our consideration of the many lenses available, and certainly not available to us all. Best wishes!

  10. I agree with everything bstrom stated. Thank you Bastian and Phillip for these super helpful reviews. I believe from everything I’ve read here that this Laowa lens, despite some of its drawbacks, offers a strong consideration for anyone seeking a good performing and great value wide angle prime lens.

  11. Thx Bastian for this well considered review. I do echo the lack of QA in the industry and really look forward to reading your guide in testing lens decentering at the shops efficiently.

  12. Hi Bastian,

    did you already get any feedback regarding the decreasing sharpness in one quadrant in the midframe?

    Thomas

    1. I talked to some other testers and so far this one seems to be the only one showing these issues. I did not yet send my review sample back to the manufacturer though, so they did not yet get a chance to fully analyze it.

  13. thank you very much for your time and effort, you’re one of the best, the master of Sony users.
    thanks again and keep it up.
    could you do a review or tutorial how you post processing your image crisp n simple?

  14. This is really a great review. And those sunstars don’t look that bad. If Canon or Nikon released this lens, it would cost $2000. Thanks for the review.

  15. Hi Bastian,

    If you order this lens in Europe, do you have to pay for some additional costs like custom duties?

    Thanks for the review.

  16. Hi,

    Do you already have written the way how to test for centration easily?

    Would be really interesting for me…

    Thanks for your good test.

    I am struggling to buy batis 18 or this one. I know it is really a huge difference in angle. But I don’t want to buy both. Any suggestions? 🙂

  17. Hello Bastian,

    First thank you so much for this — and many other —excellent reviews. I just purchased this terrific lens not in a small part because of your review, and I am getting to know it.

    In my online research besides following this site, I also look at “The Last Word” by Jim Kasson. He posted a very simple decentered lens test here: http://blog.kasson.com/the-last-word/simple-decentering-test/
    As well as a a few more scientific tests. Perhaps this helps some of your readers out until you publish your article. From this test my lens looks centered.

    EXIF: No exif definitely is a negative for this lens but I was thinking it would be helpful to have the lens profile available in LR or Capture One so that one can manually select the it and correct some of the issues. They have many profiles but as far as I can tell not the Laowa. Perhaps Laowa can contact Adobe and Capture One to have them add the profiles.

    And thank you and the entire crew for your passion and good work.
    Lia

  18. Bastian, thanks for the very excellent review. I have the Sony a7ii and was wondering if your findings would be the same on my camera.

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