Venus Optics has two new ultra-wide-angle 9mm Laowa lenses in its lineup. The first one is Laowa 9mm f/5.6 which is the world’s widest rectilinear lens for full-frame cameras. It comes for Leica M, Sony FE, and Nikon Z lens mounts. The second lens is Laowa 9mm T2.9 – a cine version of their 9mm f/2.8 lens for APS-C sensors. This one comes for FUJIFILM X, Sony E, and Micro Four Thirds mounts. Both lenses are fully manual and they should start shipping in June.
The Chinese lens designer and manufacturer Venus Optics known for Laowa – a line of popular and affordable lenses – added new ultra-wide-angle lenses to its lineup. As a part of our Virtual Show, we talked with Kevin Yeung about these two products.
Laowa 9mm f/5.6 – World’s Widest Rectilinear Full-Frame Lens
The first lens we talked about is the brand new Laowa 9mm f/5.6 which according to Venus Optics, is the world’s widest rectilinear wide-angle lens for full-frame mirrorless cameras. The lens is quite compact and with 350 grams also lightweight. It provides 135° FOV without barrel distortion – it is NOT a fisheye lens.
The minimum focusing distance is only 12 cm which is measured from the camera’s sensor, so the lens can focus on objects that are as close as around 3-4 cm from its front element. The lens is fully manual. Like with other Laowa lenses, there are no electrical contacts so the lens does not send any EXIF data to the camera.
When it comes to optical design, there are two large aspherical glass elements and two extra-low dispersion elements. According to Venus Optics, the aberrations such as distortion & CA have been reduced to a minimum. Although the lens produces very little distortion, Laowa does not label it as a Zero-D (zero distortion) lens.
As Kevin told us, the Laowa 9mm f/5.6 can’t attach a standard circular front filter, but they work together with another manufacturer to design a filter holder that can utilize 100mm square slide-in filters. This will be available soon. This is not confirmed yet, but there might also be an option in the future to add filters to the back of the lens (between the lens and the camera’s sensor). In fact, Laowa already included this design in one of their ultra-wide lenses in the past.
Laowa 9mm f/5.6 Lens – Key Specifications
- Focal Length: 9 mm
- Max. Aperture: f/5.6
- Angle of View: 135°
- Format Compatibility: Full-frame
- Lens Structure: 14 elements in 10 groups
- Aperture Blade: 5
- Min. Focusing Distance: 12 cm (measured from the camera’s sensor)
- Max. Magnification: 1:4.8
- Filter Thread: N/A
- Focus Mode: Manual Focus
- Dimension: 62.4 x 66 mm
- Weight: 350 g
- Color: Black, Silver
- Mount: Leica M, Nikon Z, Sony FE
Available Lens Mounts
The Laowa 9mm f/5.6 lens comes in three versions for three different lens mounts – Sony FE mount, Nikon Z mount, and Leica M mount. That might seem like a very poor mount selection, but, as Venus Optics says, the Leica M version of the lens can be adapted to other mirrorless cameras. The Leica M mount has a flange focal distance of 27.8mm, so it is possible to adapt to all other mirrorless mounts with shorter flange focal distance.
Considering current full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market, I think two mounts that would make sense in this regard are Leica L mount as well as Canon RF mount. These mounts both have a flange focal distance of 20mm and a quick look on B&H uncovered numerous simple affordable adapters from KIPON, FotodioX, 7artisans, and others with prices varying from $35 to $89. I included links to selected adapters underneath the article.
Please be aware that Kevin told us the lens didn’t perform very well on Canon RF cameras in their tests.
Of course, there are also adapters to other mirrorless mounts like FUJIFILM X, Canon EF-M, or Micro Four Thirds. Adapting the Laowa 9mm f/5.6 lens to cameras with smaller sensors won’t, however, use its full potential. Interestingly, there is also a Leica M to FUJIFILM G-mount adapter so it would be possible to experiment with this lens on a larger medium-format sensor – heavy vignetting can be anticipated.
Due to the design of the lens, there is no possibility to use it with SLR lens mounts like Canon EF or Nikon F which have much longer flange focal distance.
Price and Availability
The price of the Laowa 9mm f/5.6 lens has not been fixed yet, but Kevin told us it will be less than $1,000. It should start shipping very soon – around late June 2020.
Laowa 9mm T2.9 Cine Lens for APS-C
Another lens we talked about, is a cine version of Laowa’s 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D photographic lens for APS-C (Super 35) sensors. The housing of the lens has been reworked to better suit filmmaking purposes. With 9mm focal length the lens offers 113° FOV on APS-C sensors.
The lens features full metal construction with standard 0.8 mod gears on both aperture and focus ring. The focus throw is 180° and it has a 55mm front filter thread, so it is not a problem to use an ND or any other circular filter.
The lens weighs 247g, so it is quite lightweight. It comes for FUJIFILM X, Sony E, and Micro Four Thirds mounts. The minimum focus distance is 12mm (from the sensor). Focus breathing is at a minimum but still remains visible as this lens is a modified photographic lens.
Price and Availability
The 9mm f/2.8 photographic lens is retailing at $499, this new cine version will cost $599. It should start shipping very soon – around the middle of June. The lens comes in a custom Pelican 1150 protective case.
What do you think about the new Laowa 9mm f/5.6 lens? How would you use such an ultra-wide field of view? Do you have experience working with other Laowa lenses? Let us know in the comments underneath the article.