This is a manual focus lens with an aperture
that can be de-clicked for smooth exposure
transitions during videomaking.
The Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D features
an optical design that minimizes distortion.
Unlike many wide-angle lenses, the 15mm
has a flat front surface and accepts 72mm
You’ll be able to focus on objects as close
as 15cm from the front of the lens with a
maximum magnification of 1: 4.
There are seven aperture blades that stop
down to f/22.
Despite being situated in the budget end of
the lens aisle, the Laowa 15mm doesn’t feel
shoddily built at all. Patiño tells us its metal
construction is robust, yet still relatively
lightweight at 1. 1 pounds—which is right
in the sweet spot for other budget-minded
competitors from Tokina and Rokinon.
The focus ring doesn’t have a very long
distance to travel between . 15 meters and
infinity, but it turns smoothly enough. The
aperture ring is smaller and as you turn it, your
thumb may brush up against the click/de-
click button but you’re unlikely to accidentally
nudge it out of the desired position.
image Quality & PerFormance
The Laowa 15mm f/2 arrived just in time for
Patiño, who needed to shoot interiors and
exteriors of his new studio for his website.
Shooting on an a7R II, he found that the lens
did an excellent job resolving the details for
the camera’s 42-megapixel sensor. He shot
most of the interiors between f/8 and f/11.
You’ll get some modest vignetting at f/2 but
Shooting wide open, you’ll get nice
Despite the lens’s focal length, there’s
remarkably little visible distortion at the
edges of the frame. We’re not bold enough to
say there’s “zero” as the lens promises, but to
our eyes it’s extremely close to nonexistent.
Certainly far less than comparable wide-angle
models we’ve shot. There was also no visible
chromatic aberration and purple fringing,
even when shooting foliage backed by the sun.
The Laowa 15mm lacks electronic contacts
so it won’t transmit f-stop information into your
file’s metadata. Without those contacts, you’re
also unable to take advantage of Sony’s focus
magnification feature so manual focusing can be
a bit tricky if you’re used to relying on it. On the
plus side, you can still access focus peaking.
Sony doesn’t make its own 15mm prime lens,
but Rokinon makes a 14mm f/2.8 Sony lens
with autofocusing for about $300 less than
the Laowa. There’s also the slightly less
expensive Tokina FiRIN, a manual focusing
20mm f/2 model. Unlike the Laowa, the
FiRIN does have electronic contacts for
focusing aides and transmitting lens data to
your image file. We haven’t gotten our hands
on the FiRIN but it’s a very close match and
is worth trying in tandem with the Laowa.
“On balance, I was totally happy with
it,” Patiño says of his time with the lens.
It’s a good value, well built, and the ability
to declick the aperture makes it a valuable
option for Sony shooters bouncing between
stills and video.
pdnonline.com MARCH 2018
gear & techniQues ProDuct reVie Ws
aBoVe: Our co-tester was impressed by the lack of
wide-angle distortion in the studio interiors he shot
with the Laowa 15mm f/2.
aBoVe: A durable metal build and a de-clicked
aperture make the Laowa 15mm an appealing
option for filmmakers.
F/2 Fe Zero-D
When the Laowa 15mm f/2 debuted
toward the tail-end of 2017, Venus Optics
hailed it as the world’s widest rectilinear
f/2 native lens for Sony E-mount cameras.
Since then, no other model (that we can
find) has risen to the task of being second.
We paired up with N.J.
photographer and director David Patiño
( www.davidpatino.com) to see if Venus
had carved out a coveted spot in the
Venus optics laowa
15mm f/2 Fe Zero-D
Pros: De-clicked aperture; good image
quality; no visible wide-angle distortion;
smooth focus turns; well built;
cons: No AF; unable to use focus
magnification; no f-stop data
transmitted to image files.