Laowa 9mm f/2.8

The Laowa 9mm’s size, han­dling and op­ti­cal per­for­mance are sim­ply awe­some www. laowalens . co. uk

Digital Camera World - - CONTENTS - Rod Lawton

This ‘Zero Dis­tor­tion’ su­per-wide prime is made to ap­peal to APS-C mir­ro­less users

If you’ve bought an APS-C mir­ror­less cam­era, the chances are it’s be­cause you want a com­pact, por­ta­ble cam­era kit – so the last thing you need is a big, fat zoom lens to cover off all the fo­cal lengths you need. One of the things that makes the Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D espe­cially ap­peal­ing for Sony E, Canon EOS M or Fu­ji­film X-mount cam­era own­ers is its size. You can get ul­tra-wide zooms for these cam­eras, but they can’t match the Laowa’s size, or in­deed its f/2.8 max­i­mum aperture. You can even fit 49mm fil­ters to the front.

This is a man­ual-fo­cus lens, which proves less of a prob­lem than you might think, but with no me­chan­i­cal or elec­tri­cal con­nec­tions to the cam­era, it means you’ll need to use man­ual ex­po­sure too.

Build and han­dling

The Laowa feels beau­ti­fully made, with a smooth, long-travel fo­cus ring and a dis­tance scale with enough mark­ings for fairly pre­cise zone fo­cus­ing, plus depth of field mark­ings for each aperture, for gaug­ing hy­per­fo­cal dis­tances. In prac­tice, at these fo­cal lengths prac­ti­cally every­thing falls within the lens’s depth of field un­less you’re shoot­ing ob­jects close to the cam­era at wide aper­tures.

Man­ual ex­po­sure is sim­i­larly pain­less, espe­cially if the cam­era body has a shut­ter speed dial or a con­trol dial you can use for this func­tion. The lens aperture is set man­u­ally us­ing a ring on the lens.


The ‘Zero-D’ in this lens’s name refers to its zero-dis­tor­tion de­sign, and it’s jus­ti­fied. Reg­u­lar ul­tra-wide zoom lenses de­liv­ery good doses of bar­rel dis­tor­tion and pretty soft edges, but the Laowa is dif­fer­ent. Straight lines (and hori­zons) stay dead straight right up to the edges of the frame, and de­tail is su­per-sharp.

There is some lens flare on the far right side of this image, but that’s be­cause the naked sun is in the frame – oth­er­wise, the Laowa 9mm f/2.8 is not par­tic­u­larly prone to flare.

As with any lens this wide, tilt­ing the cam­era up­wards to cap­ture tall build­ings can re­sult in very strong con­verg­ing ver­ti­cals.

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