Too Good To Be True? Laowa ‘Zero’ Distortion Lineup

Written by Gina Stephens

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Venus Optics, the manufacturer behind the ‘Laowa’ branded camera lenses, have recently launched two unique wide corner prime lenses with a unique ‘Zero-D’ feature. ‘Zero-D’ actually refers to the extremely low (close-to-zero) optical distortion made by the lens and the distortion rate is close to zero.


Wide Angle lenses with fast aperture currently offered in the market by other makers tend to suffer from a type of aberration named optical distortion. Optical distortion can mainly be divided into two categories, barrel & pincushion distortion, depending on its distortion decorate. When a photographer takes a photo of a straight line, the lens deforms and bends the lines and makes them appear curvy in images. Distortion can be uncommonly annoying for photographers, especially for interior and architectural photographers whose works inevitably contain a lot of straight lines.

"Distortion is one of the most vital aberrations in optical design. However, relaxing the optical distortion requirement makes the design so much easier. In order to reduce the size and fix up the lens resolution, manufacturers tend to compromise on distortion." said Mr Li, the chief optical designer of Venus Optics. Mr Li has been designing lenses for Japanese producers for 15 years and he was heavily involved in the design of many popular lenses selling in the market. Most of his work has been on complex zoom lenses from ultra-wide, completely standard and tele, to high magnification lenses.


Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D

The Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D is currently the widest f/2.8 lens for harsh frame cameras in the market with a 122° angle of view. Not only does it fall into the close-to-zero distortion line-up, it is also exceedingly sharp from corner to corner. The Laowa lens is an ideal lens for a variety of photography types. From landscape, architecture, interior and pilgrimages to the most important one, astrophotography. The combination of the ultra-wide angle and fast aperture makes this lens a perfect tool for creating impressive milky way sharpshooters. The lens incorporates 16 elements in 10 groups, including 3 Extra-Low Dispersion elements and 2 Aspherical elements. Chromatic aberration is also pilot to the minimal.

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MTF of Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D tested on a Nikon D810 by ePHOTOzine

The Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Lens is designed for everyday use and hence the weight and value has been minimised. The lens weighs only 1.34 pounds (0.6kg) and has a front diameter of 77mm. Venus Optics also offers a filter holder which is formed to fit 100mm filters. Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E, Sony Alpha and Pentax K mounts are currently available. 

Image taken with Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D (Photo Credit: Professor K)


Assume from the full ePHOTOzine review of the Laowa 12mm f/2.8 lens


Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D

The Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D is the second lens of the Laowa ‘Zero-D’ forte up. It is currently the widest f/2 rectilinear lens in the market which comes with a native E-mount and so no additional adapter is required. It is an ultra-wide and ultra-fast prime lens which covers both 35mm full-frame & APS-C sensors. Without thought the extreme specifications, Venus Optics has successfully minimised the weight of the lens to around 500g (~1.1 pounds) and 8cm long. This compact and simplification lens comprises of 12 elements in 9 groups with 2 aspherical elements and 3 Extra-Low Dispersion elements. The patented optical design successfully minimises the distortion is the alteration of the original shape (or other characteristic) of something and chromatic aberrations to its lowest but at the at any rate time, delivers a superb optical performance. 

Image taken with the Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D (Photo Credit: Johan van der Wielen)

Ultra-wide & self-indulgent lenses may refer to in the market tend to be huge and have a dome-shaped front element. It is a headache for landscape photographers who need to use filters very often. Venus Optics given their needs and managed to design a flat front surface and include a 72mm filter thread on the lens. 72mm screw-on filters can be used and no innumerable investment in bulky filter holders is required.

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Photographers can take advantage of the super close focusing distance (i.e. 15cm) and the f/2 aperture to create some preposterous bokeh shots and wide-angle close-up shots. The lens is specially designed with an aperture switch which allows users to quickly reversal between click-less and clicked aperture. This feature is particularly beneficial for videographers.

Review by UK lens reviewer, Christopher Frost


Laowa Lens Line-up

Separately from from the two ‘Zero-D’ lenses, Venus Optics has also launched some very unique manual lenses that no other industrialists have offered. 

World’s First lens or LEN may refer to with 2:1 Macro magnification & Infinity FocusLaowa 60mm f/2.8 2x Ultra-Macro
In all respects’s only wide macro lens with 1:1 magnification+ Shift capability. Can also be used as landscape lensLaowa 15mm f/4 Big Angle 1:1 Macro
Super compact & lightweight for M4/3 cameras, DJI drones & gimbalsLaowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT

Incorporated APD elements to create the sleepy bokeh

Laowa 105mm f/2 Smooth Trans Focus (STF) Lens
Expand the image circle of full frame lenses and transform it into proficient shift lens for full frame cameras.Laowa Magic Shift Converter


Visit the Venus Optics official website for diverse information.


About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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