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Venus Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D Reviews: “For Landscape Photographers it Could be a Dream Come True”

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Laowa 9mm F2.8 Reviews

The Venus Laowa 9mm F2.8 Zero-D is grabbing quite some attention lately and getting lots of very positive reviews, such as the one of Jonas Rask.

Venus Optics is now taking pre-orders on the Laowa 9mm F2.8 Zero-D. First comes first, so order now to be high on waiting list.

To order, or not to order? That is the question.

Personally I do own the Samyang/Rokinon 12mm F2 as well as the Fujinon XF10-24, so actually I do not really “need” the Laowa 9mm F2.8. However, the lens performs well and looks so ridiculously small, that I can imagine it’s just a joy to travel with such a small and light super wide-angle lens.

Well, let’s try to make your decision if to order it or not a bit easier, so here are a 3 reviews, that might help you in your decision.

Opticallimits (former “photozone”)

As usual this is a review that focuses also much on the technical side of the lens. I will share in short their verdict here:

Verdict: We have to admit that we are having a sweet spot for everything unusual and the Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D qualifies here. The focal length is extreme – in fact, it is the widest rectilinear lens available in Fujifilm X mount (by a tiny margin) – but the real value proposition is the size of the lens. That doesn’t mean that it’s just soso optically. Extreme ultra-wide lenses are never perfect. Keeping this in mind the Laowa is pretty good indeed. It’s super-sharp in the image center and if you avoid f/2.8, the borders/corners are decent. Lateral CAs are generally not an issue. Image distortions are extremely low for a lens of this focal length – and that’s without image auto-correction. The primary weakness is vignetting which is rather extreme at max aperture. However, at medium aperture settings, it’s a lesser issue outside of lab conditions. Flare in strong contra-light can produce quite a bit of glare – a generally weaker aspect in Laowa lenses it seems. 

The Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D may have some shortcomings but that being said we really enjoyed using the lens out there.

Priced at 499USD it isn’t cheap in absolute terms but it’s half the price of the Voigtlander 10mm f/5.6 Aspherical (Sony/Leica mount) and Fujifilm’s own, much bigger XF 10-24mm f/4 OIS lens. It’s also refreshing to see that while other manufacturers are releasing increasingly bigger lenses with every new generation, Laowa is trying to fight the mainstream with dwarfish offerings that are really more aligned to small mirrorless cameras.”

For the full review check out opticallimits here.

Christopher Forst

The next Laowa 9mm F2.8 review comes from Christopher Frost, who tested the Sony version:

  • absolutely tiny
  • feels solid, made of metal, and very light
  • manual focus lens
  • aperture ring works with clicks
  • at F2.8: fantasticly sharp in the center and great contrast. Soft in the corners and suffers a bit from field curvature at F2.8
  • at F4: excellent sharpness in the middle and quite good in the corners with almost no chromatic aberration
  • F5.6 to F11: sharp
  • clean and sharp images
  • essentially no distortion
  • at F2.8 lots of vignetting and gets better stopped down but never really goes away
  • nice option for astrophotography. He did not notice any coma
  • CONCLUSION: for landscape photographers it could be a dream come true

Check out the whole video at Christopher Frost Photography Youtube

Photonews

“FINAL THOUGHTS: I have always been a fan of ultra wide-angle photography and have been using Fuji’s excellent XF 10-24mm F4 OIS shortly after it hit the market. However, it’s the only zoom lens I own and is quite bulky in comparison to the rest of my arsenal. After using the Laowa lens for a couple of weeks, I’m seriously reconsidering my lens lineup and going back to all primes. Yes, I’ll lose image stabilization and autofocus but I’d be gaining a lighter, more compact lens with an extra stop of light and a wider field of view. Yes, there is a noticeable difference between 9mm and 10mm and still be able to cover the rest of the zoom range with 14mm and a 24mm lenses. The close focusing distance and wide maximum aperture would also allow for some unique photos that I can’t accomplish with any other lens.

The Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D lens is an excellent lens with an impressive build quality at an incredible price. The lack of distortion is quite remarkable for such an extreme field of view and this lens would be a great addition to any camera bag for photographers who shoot with Fuji X”

Check out the whole review at photonews here.

Laowa 9mm F2.8 Pre-order: Venus Optics

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