Venus Optics Laowa 15mm F2 Zero-D E-mount lens review by Tricky01

reviewer#44543 date: Jul-5-2020
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sigma 14mm f1.8 (FE mount)
Sony 16-35 f4 (FE mount)
Zeiss 16-35 F2.8 (A mount)
Sigma 12-24mm f?? (A mount)
price paid:£540 (SH)
positive:Tiny (vs Sigma 14mm 1.8)
Takes standard screw in filters
Metal build
negative:No electrical connection (manual aperture and no EXIF recorded)
No autofocus
Focus peaking at this ultra wide angle (at least on A7iii) is often wrong
comment:For context, I was after a fast ultra wide angle lens for the night sky, star trails and milkway shots and initially I bought the Sigma 14mm 1.8 when I found someone selling for a reasonable price (£900). That is a lovely lens, but it is very large and heavy, designed for DSLR and adapted by Sigma for mirrorless (effectively adding an extra 2cm or so to the length). Given the night sky usage, autofocus was redundant so I swapped for the laowa and was very pleased. It is such a small lens, very well built and importantly takes standard filters. Not that I use them for night sky stuff, but I do love a day time long shutter landscape shot with 10 stop ND filter, so good to know this can handle it.

The only downside is because it's so small, I do tend carrying it in the bag more often and then using it. That might seem like a positive, but by using it more away from the night sky, I've discovered focus peaking (at least on the A7iii) is often misleading, claiming things are in focus when they're not. A wide shot of my son's 6th birthday party was disappointingly out of focus and in the stress of hosting, didn't take the time to check. So if you plan to use it in the day time, be sure to take time to really check focus between shots and possibly avoid parties! That said, there's no way I would've lugged the beast of the Sigma to the party so it's a bit catch 22 - I'd like AF, but if it's a choice between AF and size, at this focal length (and my night sky use) I'd choose size everytime.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 1
  • sharpness: 4.50
  • color: 4.00
  • build: 5.00
  • distortion: 5.00
  • flare control: 4.00
  • overall: 4.50 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania