Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D reviewed

Discussion in 'Sony' started by Vieri, May 8, 2018.

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  1. Vieri

    Vieri Well-Known Member

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    For my Fine Art Landscape work, I find ultra-wide-angle lenses to be wonderful creative tools because of the different “view of the world” they provide: see in this Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D in-depth review my thoughts about this relatively new and promising addition to the ultra-wide pool, and about its place in a Fine Art Landscape photographer’s bag.

    While I reviewed it adapted for my Leica SL, the lens is available in Sony mount as well, so I thought it might be relevant:

    https://vieribottazzini.com/2018/05/venus-optics-laowa-12mm-f-2-8-zero-d-in-depth-review.html

    [​IMG]

    Thank you for reading, best regards,

    Vieri
     
    #1 Vieri, May 8, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
  2. Bob Israel

    Bob Israel Well-Known Member

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    I had the Laowa 12/2.8 for a short time. I like the lens a lot stopped down but on my copy, the corners were very soft wide open to the point that I returned the lens. Perhaps, I was asking for too much but compared to the Laowa 15/2 and any of the Voigtlander superwides, I was a bit disappointed with the lens for my uses.
     
  3. Vieri

    Vieri Well-Known Member

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    Hello Bob,

    I don't want to be boring, so I will not repeat here what I already wrote in the review - corner performance is not perfect, but my copy seems to be quite good in the corners as well. What counts for me is performance at f/8 - f/11, and that is simply amazing, just perfect all over the frame. No distortion, no chromatic aberrations, great flare resistance and contrast, very little vignette and - especially - the possibility to easily use 100mm square filters - make this a winner for me, no comparison with the Voigtlander 10mm (which I just sold) or 12mm (which I got, tested, and sold about 1 year ago to keep the 10mm instead). You can see the Voigtlander 15mm compared in my Leica 16-35mm review here, to check it against the 12mm Laowa: https://vieribottazzini.com/2018/05...l-16-35mm-f-3-5-4-5-asph-in-depth-review.html. The Laowa wins hands down in the corners, IMHO. Of course, your requirements and, therefore, your solutions to them, might be different.

    Best regards,

    Vieri
     
  4. Bob Israel

    Bob Israel Well-Known Member

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    I most certainly agree with your assessment. Stopped down, the lens is wonderful! I was hoping for a lens that wasn't too large that I could use for astrophotography and therefore shooting wide open. I also shoot in low light situations, hand held and that's where the soft corners were problematic. But yes, as a landscape lens, it produces some great images!
     
  5. Vieri

    Vieri Well-Known Member

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    Bob, I think that for the size and price the lens is... amazing even wide open! ;)

    Jokes aside - in your previous message, you compared it with the Voigtlanders super-wides, and both the 10 and the 12mm are f/5.6: at f/5.6, the Laowa is more than acceptable and definitely better than both Voigts at equivalent apertures. However, with a maximum aperture of f/5.6 neither Voigt is ideal for night photography or hand-held photography in low light, IMHO.

    I haven't tried the Laowa for astrophotography yet, will report once I did.

    Since you also mentioned the Laowa 15/2, assuming that the difference in coverage (and there is quite a sizeable difference between 12mm and 15mm) is fine by you and for your requirements, you might want to try the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 instead - however, that is not so small, not filterable, and costs about 50% more than the Laowa 12mm... and I am not sure how much better the corners will be wide-open. I got a copy briefly, didn't test it thoroughly but my (admittedly non formal) tests told me that the corners were not tack sharp at f/1.8.

    Best regards,

    Vieri
     
  6. Bob Israel

    Bob Israel Well-Known Member

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    I was excited about the Sigma until I saw its size . . . way too big for my taste. I found the Laowa 15/2 to be a great compromise between size, focal length and corner resolution. I have a friend who owns it. I thought the corners were better than the 12/2.8 but then again, it's not as wide. Currently, I'm shooting the Rokinon 14/2.4 SP for astrophotography. It is bigger than the Laowa and it is much better than the Rokinon 14/2.8 especially since there are QC issues with this lens. It's a lens that is under the radar to most.

    Perhaps I need to try another copy of the Laowa 12/2.8 . . .
     
  7. Vieri

    Vieri Well-Known Member

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    Wel,, to me a 15/2 is not much different than a 16/2.8 (any 16-35mm f/2.8 would do, then) both in terms of coverage and speed; a 14/2.4 or 12/2.8 make much more sense in terms of differentiation from the 16-35mm. About giving the Laowa 12mm another go, well perhaps you had an earlier / worse / copy of the 12mm, since my copy doesn't look like it would be unusable wide open - especially for astrophotography, where you don't really need extremely sharp corners and where I think coma control is more important (I don't much like butterfly-looking stars). I hope to be able to test it in such conditions soon - even though, not being my bread-and-butter photography, that might take some time.

    Best regards,

    Vieri
     

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