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Lens review

Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/2.8 ZERO-D

20 April 2018
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

It would be difficult to compare the Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/2.8 ZERO-D to any direct rivals because you simply can’t find them. Of course there are full frame 2.8/14 lenses which provide similar angles of view and aperture fastness but such a comparison would be pointless. When it comes to smaller APS-C sensors your choice is so limited that we managed to include just two other models in our comparison chart . Still the Meike’s angle of view is distinctly narrower so, in fact, only the Samyang 10 mm f/2.8 ED AS NCS CS might be considered the direct rival of the Laowa. It is noticeably heavier and bigger, you can’t use classic filters with it and you have to mention the fact it is a lens originally designed for reflex cameras and then only adopted for their mirrorless equivalents. The Laowa, for a change, was designed for mirrorless cameras from the very beginning - you cannot find models equipped with reflex cameras’ mounts.

In the photo below the Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/2.8 ZERO-D is positioned next to the Fujinon XF 18–55 mm f/2.8–4.0 OIS. It is clearly visible what optical instrument you are dealing with.

Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/2.8 ZERO-D - Build quality

The tested lens starts with a metal mount without any contacts; on its rim you can find an inscription “Made in China” and inside you see a black part of the casing going round a rear element. That element is 14 mm in diameter, it moves but only slightly – with the focus set at infinity its edge sticks above the casing and after passing to the minimum focusing distance it hides circa 2 mm inside.

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Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/2.8 ZERO-D - Build quality

The proper body of the lens, which is made of metal, starts with a narrow (9 mm) aperture ring. The word ‘narrow’ might have a negative connotations but in this case it shouldn’t be understood that way. With such physical dimensions of the lens, all its parts seem small and narrow. That ring features ribs on both sides and aperture marks from f/2.8 to f/22 in the middle, omitting the f/16 mark. You can change the aperture smoothly as the ring is clickless, but when you hit full values you feel the ring falling into a kind of groove.

An immobile fragment of the casing with a depth of field scale featuring marks by f/2.8, f/5.6, f/8.0 and f/11.0 is the next part of the lens.

Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/2.8 ZERO-D - Build quality

A manual focus ring is the biggest part of the barrel. It is 19 mm wide and most of its surface is occupied by fine ribbing; under the ribs you see a distance scale expressed in meters and feet. The ring moves evenly and is well damped - running through the whole range needs a turn through an angle of about 130 degrees. It might seem it is not a big value for a manual instrument but, with the depth of field provided by the Laowa 2.8/9, it is more than enough for precise settings.

The lens ends with an immobile ring adorned with a blue stripe and a hood mount for a metal hood you get in the box. The front element is noticeably convex, with a diameter of 23 mm. It is surrounded by the producer’s logo, the serial number of the device, and a filter thread, 49 mm in diameter.

Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/2.8 ZERO-D - Build quality

The optics is quite complex for such a small instrument. Overall the Laowa 2.8/9 consists of as many as 15 elements positioned in 10 groups and the designers weren’t stingy with special elements. Inside you can find three low dispersion ED glass and two aspherical elements. The front element is covered by hydrophobic Frog Eye Coating (FEC). The lens is also has an aperture with seven blades which can be closed down to a value of f/22.

Buyers get both caps and a metal hood, all put inside a light-colored, hard box we found very stylish.

Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/2.8 ZERO-D - Build quality