Laowa Zero-D 12mm f/2.8 distortion-free lens coming soon

Laowa Zero-D 12mm f:2.8 lens
The small Chinese company Anhui Changgeng Optical Technology Company Limited, better known as Venus Optics has already announced several niche, highly specialized lenses:

Their lenses are sold in a variety of mounts, including Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K, Sony A and Sony E. They are currently working on a rectilinear, almost distortion-free ultra-wide angle lens for 24x36 cameras: the Laowa Zero-D 12mm f/2.8 (Zero-D symbolizing the absence of distortion). The main specifications of the prototype are the following:

  • Image circle: 24x36
  • Field of view: 121.96°
  • Optical formula: 16 elements, including 2 aspherical elements and 3 elements made of glass with anomalous dispersion, in 10 groups
  • Number of aperture blades: 7
  • Aperture range: f/2.8 - f/22
  • Manual focus
  • Minimum focusing distance: 0.18m
  • Maximum magnification: 0.2x
  • Maximum diameter: 74.8mm
  • Length: 82.2mm
  • Weight: circa 570g.

Sample photos taken with a Laowa Zero-D 12mm f/2.8 mounted on a Sony Alpha 7R camera can be found on Flickr:

Laowa Zero-D 12 mm f/2,8

Thanks Mistral 75!

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  • Doug Henry

    has anyone used any of these lenses? I thought the macros looked nifty on paper (there are a few reviews as well). Wondering if anyone has any experiences to share after using them over time.

    • Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

      I only own the 15/4. But its pros and cons is extremely similar to samyangs 14/2.8 to me. The reviews and stuff I’ve been reading about their other lenses seem to me like another samyang company but with specialized lenses.

      • S0lidSnake

        I’ve been thinking about swapping my Samyang 14mm for one of these. How sharp is the 15 in your experience?

        • Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

          The Samyang is better in sharpness. Wide open they are both about the same in the center. Samyang is alot better in the corners. Venus get about as good as it can around f11. But it will never be as good in the corners as the samyang because the astigmatism casued by the lens design.
          Flare and distortion is about the same for these lenses. Shift is not really a feature anyone would buy this lens for because the optics is not good enough to begin with. Buy it if you want the macro capability.

  • David Trachtenbarg
  • David Trachtenbarg

    Purchased the wide angle macro. Fit on the Nikon mount is so tight concerned about safely removing. Unable to figure how tilt shift mechanism works or if it does not work because it is broken. Manual focusing with no automatic diaphragm is also a challenge. Not buying another lens from this company.

    • Mistral75

      The Laowa 15mm f/4 has not tilt capability, only shift and shift is limited to APS-C sensors.

      • Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

        Shift still works on fullframe. You have to remove any filter and the lenshood and clean up the corners. But it is 100% usable.

        • Zos Xavius

          Interesting. Thanks.

        • Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

          Max shift on fullframe.

          • sebas

            that’s a fairly heavy vignette

          • SH*T666

            I can´t tell if it is heavy vignetting or heavy storm clouds. The lower corners don´t seem to be affected at all and left upper corner has a lot less ‘vignetting’ than the right upper corner.

          • Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

            Its heavy vignetting. When you shift you move the image circle up or down, so it will cause some darker corners on only top or the bottom of the frame. This will also move the distortion from the top/bottom of the frame to the middle.

            The vignetting looks heavy but its fairly easy to clean up, especially if you shoot raw.
            The distortion is the real issue when shifting and can be a challenge to work around.

            Why the sample is darker in the right corner than the left I have no idea. Could be just that image or maybe the lens. It is a “cheap” china lens after all. But I haven’t noticed any wierdness or optical defects with my sample.

          • How about coma in star shots wide open?

          • Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

            Compared to nikons 14-24 and nikons 16-35. Those I had available.
            Its not really a lens I would use for astro/astroscapes.

          • SH*T666

            As you said: “Why the sample is darker in the right corner than the left I have no idea”. IMO, the only easy explanations are a defective camera sensor, a badly photoshopped picture or dark stormy clouds.

          • RHNO!

            What city is that. You live in the ghetto or just a city in some loser country

    • Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

      There should be a small lever on the side of the lens you press on while you slide the lens up or down.

    • SH*T666

      Where did you buy the lens? I once bought a cheap Fuji lens in a small store in Hong Kong and it was trash. You should always try to buy lenses in your country, with manufacturer´s guarantee.

    • RHNO!

      Your mama also mounts really tightly but she ain’t broken

  • Vertex

    chinese optics… must be good….

    • Zos Xavius

      Is racism really necessary?

      • captaindash

        This comment has exactly what to do with race? Are you saying Germans are superior if you say that German engineering is better?

        • SH*T666

          That comment is stupid. Period.

          • captaindash

            Unless you read it and understand the words it contains. I could’ve have been more clear. It’s an exact parallel. They are both comparing the country of origin to the quality of goods, nothing more, nothing less.


    • GearHeavy

      @Vertex You are an idiot.

    • PhilK

      Laugh all you want, the Chinese and Korean companies are going to have the Japanese optical companies pretty worried if they are not already.

      I think it’s a key reason we are seeing the traditional Japanese 3rd-party lens manufacturers pushing into the higher-end products now. Pretty soon the Chinese/Korean companies will be a major force in, if not own the entry-level and mainstream market.

  • Tor Kristian Herskedal

    These samples looks promising! I haven’t used any Laowas yet, but these speciality toys are really tempting to try out.

    • Chaitanya

      you can check Kurt G photos on flickr. He primarily uses Venus 60mm and 15mm macro lenses. Venus certainly has created a niche for themselves with decent lenses.

  • TheInconvenientRuth

    As they say:

  • mclaren777

    I’ve been waiting for this lens for years!

  • Hans Bull

    Availability in Europe?

  • And now, Sigma, do the same with AF and AE – then I’ll retire the 14/2.8 HSM for such an instrument. 🙂

    • Deryk

      Why would you need autofocus for a lens this wide?

      • Flipper Tweenie

        Why would you ask that question?

        • Deryk

          Why would you comment without anything with substance?Because at 12mm on full-frame it is unlikely you are going to have anything out of focus. Manual focus is preferable if you ask me since the main application will be for architecture, landscape and interiors. I would rather have a great manual focus wide than pay more for an autofocus motor which will raise the price and size.

          • I would need AF because I do not want to focus manually all the time? MFing is also impractical in many situations – for example when using such a lens for reportage.
            As well, it’s a myth that “everything is in focus on a wide angle”. Well, maybe only if you shoot at f/22 and aim for medium-long distance subjects, but I’ve found that on the 14mm, everything is DEFINITELY not “in focus all the time”. If something isn’t blurred into an unrecognizable mess as the background may be when shooting with a 85/1.4 lens does NOT mean it’s sharp, let alone usably sharp. On the 14mm there’s as much risk to get OOF (= unusable) shots as with the next lens.
            Besides, the Sigma 14mm I have has significant close-focus abilities (I have no max. magnification figures but the MFD is only 18 cm) so it can have a lot of blur when the subject is close or at medium distances. AF is very handy in either case. The lens is not priced stratospherically (so I don’t understand those who complain about the AF and AE adding price… someone who has spent pretty penny to buy a full frame camera surely must not have pawned his/her last shirt, so he/she can spend on quality lenses as well?)
            If you prefer manual focus, fine – everyone has a different taste. I’d like to see an AF prime in the range – because the 14mm is pretty close to the other widest lens I have now, the 16-35, and it might be nice to have more separation. Though I actually have no real complaint about the 14mm, and I can keep it indefinitely if there’s no better option.

          • Deryk

            There you go, a respectible response. Different opinions are perfectly fine. For my use, I don’t mind manual focus as long as it means the lens is not a juggernaut. For example, I really wanted to like the tamron 15-30 2.8, but the thing is a behemoth; moreover, it doesn’t take filters. I am also a zeiss fan, so I have been manual focusing for awhile (on a 100mm f2 no less). If I had to choose between af or ae, I would much rather have a chipped lens.

          • Deryk

            A good response. I still would argue for a high quality built wide over a juggernaut with af. I wanted to like the tamron 15-30, but it is a fat boy, and doesn’t take filters. I love manual focusing, and I have no issues with it (I use zeiss lenses a lot so I am biased I guess). AE would be much more preferable. I would not use 12mm for reportage unless you are up someone’s armpit or something; just take a step back. Thank you for giving a worthy response though. We all have different needs after all. My dream lens is about a 14-24 manual focus lens that takes screw-on filters and is smaller than the Nikon and much smaller than the aforementioned tamron.

          • I’m not sure you’ll ever get a 14-24 lens with filters (unless you’re speaking of APS-C lenses, which have the filter capacity down to 10mm). This lens we’re debating now does not seem to take filters – as there’s no such line in the specifications. 14mm is pretty useful in press work – a lot of Nikon shooters are seen with a 14-24 though some seem to prefer the 16-35. I’ve been using the 14mm (although not on full-frame – I’ve been using Canon 1D series bodies for awhile) for shooting demonstrations and some events that are either in confined space or require a subject shot against a wide background. Oh, and it’s highly useful for travel journalism too. 🙂 I guess the 12mm might have similar uses, and they’re all united by the fact that they’re happening in a volatile situation where fiddling with manual focus and exposure may not be practical. After all, the Sigma 12-24 has been a huge hit for a reason. 🙂
            And finally, stepping back is fine (if you have somewhere to step to) but sometimes we step FORWARD deliberately, to get a special perspective, don’t we. 🙂

          • “f/8 and be there” gets you a hyperfocal distance of nearly 34in. That’s 17in to infinity in focus. You need to be closer than that?

          • Again: I found the “everything in focus” mantra to be not true. At least in my case. 🙂 The wideangle lens has its share of misfocused shots.

          • Anders Koefoed-Bæk

            Spot on Deryk 🙂

  • RHNO!

    Admins mom so wide, she has massive distortion. On gravity that is lmao

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