I recently had the privilege to try the new Laowa 12mm f2.8. As I am an extreme wide-angle lover this lens intrigued me. In general, it’s great to see so much lens manufacturers bringing extreme wide-angle lenses to the Sony E-mount. It’s not only Laowa that is noticing the popularity of the E-mount wide angles. One year ago there were very few choices available and nowadays we can choose between lenses from Samyang (who are also coming with a new version of one of my favorite wideangle primes: the 14mm f2.8, and are coming with a 20mm 1.8 soon), Voigtlander, Zeiss and and Laowa. As a SONY Global Ambassador of Imaging this makes me a very happy man!
Laowa 12mm f2.8 mounted with an adapter on the Sony A7RII Onto the lens. The lens is not officially out yet and is currently on Kickstarter. The lens I received for testing had a Nikon mount. The native E-mount version was not available at the time but will be at the time of release. When trying out some different adapters (different Kipon adapters and the metabones adapter) I noticed that the adapters affected the sharpness of the images. When I tried the lens on the D800 it gave me considerably better results, especially in the corners. This lens being not a native Sony E-mount version and a prototype, I’ll not do extensive sharpness tests in this ‘Hands-on’. I purely want to write some first experiences with the lens based on having used it in the field. For more extensive testing check out the articles by my german friends Bastian Kratze and Dierk Topp: Dierk Topp on SteveHuff.com Bastian Kratze on PhilipReeve.com Specs:
Specifications taken from the Kickstarter website When holding the lens it feels very solid and well built. Something interesting to notice immediately is the lens hood. The 12mm Laowa actually has 2 lens hoods. One that is detachable and the other (only a few mm) fixed to protect the curved front glass element. By detaching the bigger lens hood it allows us to attach 100mm filters on the lens. They obviously thought this through as they even have their own filter holder that makes use of 100mm filters. This is a big deal for me as I do not prefer dragging around a 150mm filter system with me. Being able to use 100mm filters with this lens is a huge plus for me and I’m sure it will be for many others. Another interesting thing is that this lens is quite small for an ultra wide-angle f2.8 lens.
Size comparison: Left : Samyang 14mm f2.8 E-mount, Right: Laowa 12mm f2.8 with adapter without bigger lens hood. Laowa states this lens has ‘close to ZERO distortion.’ It does indeed live up to its promises as this lens has indeed almost no distortion even without any lens profiles applied. I am used to horizons and straight lines being distorted on UWA lenses. Usually this is fixed after adding a lens profile correction in software but it seems like this is almost unnecessary with the Laowa. Impressive.