LensTip.com

Lens review

Venus Optics LAOWA 12 mm f/2.8 ZERO-D

9 January 2019
Arkadiusz Olech

11. Summary

Pros:

  • solid, metal casing with sensible physical dimensions,
  • very good image quality in the frame centre,
  • negligible longitudinal chromatic aberration,
  • sensible correction of lateral chromatic aberration,
  • lack of problems with spherical aberration,
  • sensible distortion correction,
  • moderate astigmatism.

Cons:

  • weak image quality on the edge of the frame near the maximum relative aperture,
  • enormous vignetting,
  • too weak performance against bright light.
In my opinion the constructors of the Laowa 2.8/12 went a bit over the top. They wanted to create a small, handy and distortion-free lens with an angle of view of over 120 degrees and an unique aperture fastness. Everything in moderation, sometimes you have to compromise. I suppose they should have given up the tight control of physical parameters a bit – an increase of dimensions and weight by even 30-40 % would allow them to correct optical aberrations better (especially on the edge of the frame). Mind you the tested lens would still remain smaller than such zoom lenses as the Sigma A 12–24 mm f/4 DG HSM or the Canon EF 11–24 mm f4L USM; it would be as sharp as them and still offer a superior aperture fastness.

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I admit, though, it is difficult to criticize unique or record-breaking lenses. Laowa tackled a really difficult challenge, untouched so far by any other producer, so it is really difficult to say whether in this category you might count on more. As long as the Laowa lens remains unrivalled it should be praised – after all, despite the flaws, this instrument is able to produce well-done, sharp, photos.