The Laowa 4mm f/2.8 fisheye lens is a new manual prime lens for Micro four thirds from Venus Optics. It offers extremely wide FOV (8mm full-frame equivalent) and can be used to create circular fisheye images, VR 360 content, or very wide shots even with additional crop (for example the windowed slow-motion mode with the BMPCC 4K). The lens is available now for pre-order.
The Chinese lens company Venus Optics specializes in unique manual lenses. I feel like most of their products are somewhat unique and they are filling the holes in the lens market. They announced and teased a couple of new ultra-wide angle lenses during Photokina 2018. Among these lenses, there was also the Laowa 4mm f/2.8 fisheye lens for Micro Four Thirds (MFT, M4/3) lens mount. The development of this lens has now been finalized and it is ready for pre-order. What are its specs and features?
Laowa 4mm f/2.8 Fisheye MFT Lens
Laowa 4mm f/2.8 fisheye (8mm full-frame focal length equivalent) lens features an extremely wide 210° field of view, so it can create a circular fisheye perspective on Micro Four Thirds (MFT, M4/3) cameras. The lens is very small and lightweight – 4.8 oz (135 g). There is no way of using an ND filter with this lens, of course, so for the right motion blur when filming in bright conditions the iris will need to be fairly closed.
I have to say from the sample images, that even wide open at f/2.8 this lens is quite sharp. Laowa never stops to amaze me in this regard. The sharpness is even better when stopping down the iris a bit and it is very good in the corners as well. This would be very useful when de-fishing the image or cropping out the center part for an ultra-wide angle shot.
The 3.1″ (80mm) closest focus distance (object to the sensor) is also quite impressive and it can help create some interesting compositions with blurred background. The distortion is obviously massive, but I believe that anyone who will use this lens will not be surprised by that. The images can also be de-fished to get ultra-wide angle shots. The sharpness of the 4mm helps to retain a clear image after the de-fishing process.
Why do I need an Ultra-wide Circular Fisheye Lens?
This lens can be useful for various applications:
- 360 VR content: Thanks to its wide FOV, it is good for creating VR 360 content. Creating a full 360º panorama is easier using a maximum of 2-3 images as opposed to shooting 6 images or more with conventional fisheye lenses.
- Extremely wide circular shots: Obviously, sometimes it can be useful to create wide-angle “little-planet-like” images with black borders. Thanks to its low weight, the lens can be mounted on DJI Inspire X5 camera as well for creating a unique perspective.
- Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K HFR HD Crop mode: With the slow-motion mode of the BMPCC 4K there is additional crop. When using Laowa 4mm lens, the whole area of the image is covered and the footage will look like a regular fisheye lens. No other lens can get such a wide-angle slow motion out of the BMPCC 4K.
Laowa 4mm f/2.8 Fisheye Lens – Key Specs
- Focal length: 4mm
- Aperture: f/2.8-16
- Angle of view: 210°
- Mount: Micro Four Thirds (MFT, M4/3)
- Lens structure: 7 elements in 6 groups
- Aperture blades: 7
- Min. focusing distance: 80mm
- Max. magnification: 1 : 9
- Focus mode: manual focus
- Dimensions: 45.2 x 25.5 mm
- Weight: 135g
Price and Availability
As I mentioned earlier, this lens is available now for pre-order. The price is rather friendly – US $199 (€224). The lens comes with both rear and front lens caps.
What do you think of the Laowa 4mm f/2.8 fisheye lens? Do you have experience with a circular fisheye lens already? Let us know in the comments underneath the article.