Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D on Sony A7, user review

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12 Responses

  1. RRockley says:

    Thanks for the review, Victor. Very comprehensive and confirms that I want to get one of these, but I’m still put off by the reports (including yours) that it can’t focus up to infinity on Sony cameras.

    There are still a few things I don’t understand about the suggested solution. The problem seems to be that the lens isn’t close enough to the sensor. What I don’t quite understand is why a Nikon version with an adapter would fix the problem. Won’t it still be too far away? (Their website actually says “we do NOT suggest using 3rd party adapter.”)

    I also don’t understand the proposed Magic shift converter solution. Is this the $300 converter shown on their website? How do you know this wouldn’t still have the infinity focus problems, since Laowa make that converter? Also, how would you, for example, order a Nikon version for a Sony camera?

    It’s irritating to have to consider buying an additional $300 converter just to correct Laowa’s errors in manufacturing. Did you get any response to your complaint to Venus? did they replace it?

    Sorry for all the questions, but having bought (and returned) two Rokinon 14mm I’m a little wary of getting a dud. Thanks again.

    • Hi,
      Let me try to answer your questions…
      1. Magic shift converter is a special adapter (converter) that allow you to use Laowa 12/2.8 with the shifting feature. Shifting lens allow for perspective distortion correction (point of view). This device is offered by Laowa, specially for this lens. With one cavet – you can use it only on Sony E mount camera and only with a Canon or Nikon mount versions. This is because it reduces flange distance (distance between lens mount and sensor), while increasing focal length by few mm and allowing shifting feature. If you are not familiar with shifting function, check Canon TS-E 17/4 review e.g. to better understand what this adapter (converter) offers.
      It is not possible to use this adapter on Canon or Nikon cameras, because the lens is already at the ideal flange distance which is not possible to further reduce. It is also not possible to use it with Sony E mount version of the lens, because adapter, which is supposed to bring the lens to correct flange distance is built in. This is why it is possible only to use Canon or Nikon version of the lens on Sony E mount cameras (MS converter is shorter and the lens can get closer to the sensor).
      I hope that this is clear now.
      2. I prefer Nikon mount version, because with adapters it can be used on both Canon and Sony (and many other MLC systems). Canon version in contrary can be used only on Canon and Sony, but not on Nikon.
      3. When you buy lens in native Sony E mount, adapter is built in. While in some good service, they should be able to disassemble the mount, grind a bit of the adapter body and put the mount back, that solution will certainly void the warranty. Lens will be affected in a result, because adapter is its initial part. If you use 3rd party adapter (some of them are very affordable and of a good quality, such as K&F Concept), grinding it’s surface to get the lens closer won’t affect lens at all. You can even work out slight de-centering issues if necessary. Lens will always remain intact and only adapter (25 USD or so) will be affected.

      In conclusion, you don’t have to buy Magic Shoft Converter to use Canon or Nikon mount lens version on Sony E mount camera, you can do the same with 25 USD adapter. However, if you want to use shifting feature, your best option is Canon or Nikon mount and Laowa Magic Shift Converter (300 USD). With a native Sony E mount lens, you can’t use that special converter, nor you can use it with Nikon or Canon DSLR. If you don’t need shifting feature, you can go with a native E mount, I am sure that Venus Optics are aware of the problem and recent models will be properly calibrated. If you ever decide to sell this lens, your market will be limited by the owners of Sony E system, while if you buy Nikon version, your market will increase for Nikon, Canon and other MLC systems owners.
      If you need any more support, don’t hesitate to ask.
      Kind regards,

    • Hi Richard once again,
      I forgot to answer your last question about replacement. Lens was sent to Venus Optics and it was replaced.

  2. RRockley says:

    Thanks, that’s very helpful. I didn’t know that about the shift converter: maybe it’s explained somewhere but if so I missed it.

    Do you know how much the shift adapter increases the focal length?

    I hope the replacement they sent you doesn’t have the infinity focussing problem.

    Thanks again for your help.

    • Hi Richard,
      you should find a bit more info about shift converter here –
      What it basically does is – introducing telephoto corrective optics in the converter and increasing focal length to around 17mm.
      As any other Tele Converter it takes one stop of the light, so it become 17mm f/4 Shift lens. Considering the initial price of
      the Canon 17mm f/4 TS-E (lens which I own and use extensively), Laowa sounds like a great option. I didn’t test it however, so I can’t say much about IQ with the converter.
      I will report if the copy that they will replace is OK, but since the lens is not mine, I won’t be able to test it again (Unless Venus Optics sends me new lens for testing).

  3. Taylor says:

    I received this lens yesterday for Pentax and am also having the infinity focus issue. I am unable to attain focus at infinity even though the lens is set there. I was curious if you received a replacement and if the issue was resolved.

  4. AR says:

    Why not reflect this way ??? :

    A ) Compose with 42mio pix (A7R2) with Laowa Canon-mount 12mm : such as to keep verticals strait.!
    B) Don’t disturb this setup at all, and replace adapter with the shift adapter (shift any place, but at max. for test).

    1) crop down file A to the exact same portion you captured with the shift adapter
    (witch extracted exact same part of lens-projection, optically zoomed to 42mio.Pix)

    2) Perhaps down-sample overall surface of file B to match resolution of cropped file A.
    3) Perhaps up-sample cropped A to match untouched file B.
    4) Share Your findings on the web for us 🙂

    How do they compare ?
    Made this way, it is not perspective-software-related-postposition, but only cropping (with resizing options).

    ( I would not be surprised file A to be able to be made always look better than best B. But I dont know !
    I have TS-e 17mm and like it’s tilt-ability that I use often, very slightly, but I could imagine “file A” to be better than a (only) fully shifted TS-E file at exact same full-sized-composition. …)

  5. AR says:

    I have to correct/complement my above proceedure !

    Because to enlarge optically (teleconverter, from 12 to 17mm, should probably be considered “equal” to the opposite; Take 12mm but crop to 17, meaning résolution/framing is smaller than the fullframe résolution. Thus maybe a 42mio 12mm cropped to 17mm is perhaps only 21mio pixel.
    In order to moove this landscape-crop highest-up in a fullframe image-circle; we would have to put camera in portrait mode.

    If we make a B)-file in Portrait-mode to begin with, than perhaps indeed the top (tiny?) part of image could not be captured/included in an A)-file (despite being also in Portrait-mode.

  6. AR says:

    So my Hypothesis is (what do You think ?) :

    “Without shift-adapter the 12mm Laowa can produce the equivalent framing of a shifted 20mm and at half résolution, wilst the Laowa-shiftadaper produces the equivalent of a 17mm -equivalent APSC-camera photo (blown-up to fullframe of equivalent pixel-density)”.

    (All framings with unchanged leveling of the camera)

    • Hi,
      I don’t have Laowa 12 anymore so I can’t reply to your hypothesis, but I can tell you from the practice that physical shift is for me the only solution, since I have to compose very tight. When you have to process over 250 images per day, Canon TS-E is the lens I am relying on, since it saves me tons of time in pp. It would be interesting to test Laowa with their shift adapter, but Venus Optics didn’t reply on my test sample request. Thanks for all your thoughts and suggestions!

  1. April 28, 2017

    […] months ago, we reviewed very interesting Laowa 12/2.8 lens with Zero distortion , lens produced by Venus […]

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