Lens review

Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/5.6 FF RL

13 August 2020
Maciej Latałło

3. Build quality

There are not many rectilinear lenses with such wide angles of view in our database. Apart from the Voigtlander Hyper Heliar, mentioned in the previous chapter, we also might mention the Irix 11 mm f/4.0 and the Samyang 3.5/10 XP. In our chart we compared the tested Laowa to these instruments

The Laowa sticks out with its physical dimensions and weight – when compared to others it the smallest and the lightest instrument even though it can hardly be called optically the simplest. It also impresses with its minimum focusing distance. Still the Irix and the Samyang are faster aperture-wise while provinding a bit narrower angle of view.

In the photo below the Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/5.6 FF RL is positioned next to the Sony FE mount Voigtlander Apo-Lanthar 65 mm f/2.0.

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Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/5.6 FF RL - Build quality

The tested lens starts with a metal mount; on its edge you can find an inscription „MADE IN CHINA”. Then you see a rear element, 15 mm in diameter, surrounded by a well-matted and ribbed tube. The element changes its position, being at its shallowest with focus set at infinity. The lens doesn't have any contacts to communicate with a camera.

Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/5.6 FF RL - Build quality

The proper body of the lens starts with a smooth, black ring that doesn't move and is made of metal. On that ring you can find a depth of field scale with markings at f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, and f/22 apertures. Then you see a manual focus ring, as wide as 24 mm. Its middle part is covered by metal ribbing and below you can find a distance scale, expressed in feet and meters. The ring features an aditional tab which is supposed to make it easier to operate. The ring's work is smooth and properly damped, its focus throw amounts to an angle of about 100 degrees. With such parameters it is more than enough.

Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/5.6 FF RL - Build quality

Further on you find a small, immobile part of the barrel with an aperture ring. It works properly well, with distinct full stop click-stops but the ring can be smoothly set also for in-between values.

Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/5.6 FF RL - Build quality

Then you see a metal casing with a blue stripe, and the name and parameters of the lens (still I am at a loss what means the Roman II numeral in the name) which turns smoothly into an in-build petal-type hood.

Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/5.6 FF RL - Build quality

The front element doesn't move, is distinctly convex and 47 mm in diameter. There is no filter thread because you can't use traditional filters with this lens. When it comes to optical construction you deal where with 14 elements positioned in 10 groups. Producers decided to use 2 extra-low dispersion, 2 aspherical elements and one element made of glass with high refraction index. Inside you can also find an aperture with five blades that can be closed down to a value of f/22 t the maximum.

Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/5.6 FF RL - Build quality

Buyers get in the box: both caps and a plastic case (although I doubt 'case' is the right word).

Venus Optics LAOWA 9 mm f/5.6 FF RL - Build quality