Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro Lens on the Sony A7RII
by Dierk Topp
Hi Brandon and Steve,
This is about a very special lens, the Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro from Venus Optics in Hefei/Anhui in CHINA.
To explain the specialty of this lens here is a quote of a short description from Venus Optics:
“The new Laowa 15mm f/4 1:1 Macro lens features an ultra wide angle of view of 110 degrees with 1:1 maximum magnification. Photographers can focus very close to the subject and let the foreground dominates in the photo but at the same time, have the background telling viewers about where and how the subject lives.”
” A shift mechanism is added at the rear end of the lens with a maximum adjustment of +/- 6mm, which is extremely useful for landscape/architecture photography for distortion correction.”
I love wide and super wide lenses and preordered it after it was announced. My lens has the serial # 761 🙂
The reasons for me:
I ordered the Sony E-mount version, Nikon and Canon mount is available too
the specs looked very interesting and the price for it even more
the main advantage of the lens is, that I can get a very close foreground and environment background
it could be a universal super wide angle lens
the design is for DSLR and color shift in the corners are not expected
of course it has a manual aperture
it does not have clicks for the apertures
the shift mechanism may be a bit soft, not like a tilt/shift lens
This is not supposed to be a review!
I don’t dig into CA and soft corners. I just want to share my experiences with this special lens with you and your readers.
If you are interested in full resolution test images, you may find them here on my flickr.
From the practical use I can say, it works great. If you really use it close to 1:1 you have to take off the sun shield but still may get problems with the light and/or shadows of the lens over the subject. The following picture of the lens attached to a Sony A7RII shows, how close you are in these situations.
And I would like to mention, that the aperture has no clicks, the following images are “about” f/11. The shift mechanism is a bit soft too, but it works.
Find the following images and some more here on my flickr album.
The lens mounted on the Sony A7RII
Comparison of the sizes: Sony Zeiss 16-35/4 – Laowa 15mm/4 – Sony Zeiss 24-70/4
(it is the E-mount lens, the DSLR lens will be much shorter)
On this picture the object distance is set to 1:1, You see, that this is only useful for very specific situations! You will have problems to get enough light to your object!
Ok. here are some examples of the practical use of this lens
On the architecture images below vertical lines have been corrected in PP the used aperture on most images is “about” f/11, you never know exactly, when you stop down while watching the focus magnification. Even with f/11 the DOF is very small at 1:1
All images made with Sony A7RII full format camera
On the following images the distance to the front lens is about 5 to 10cm! (I know, it does not look like this, but it is a 15mm lens 🙂 )
on the sample images of the vendor for this lens you find images with mushrooms seen from the below the mushroom, I had to try that as well 🙂
(this may be difficult with a DSLR with a fixed screen)
town hall of my home city
it seems to be an interesting lens for certain product shots:
The following two images with the use of the shift function. Both are stitched two images, one full shift down and one shift up, you see the problems in the corners, the images are not cropped.
With stitched images I usually use the full shift and crop later. Again the foreground is a few cm away!
(no info of shutter and ISO in the EXIF)
The following images may show the normal use as a super wide lens
vertical correction in PP
from a visit to Hamburg, Germany
the Hamburg Rathaus (town hall)
and last but not least:
the gate was closed and I heard the train coming, I focused on the gate.
The ICE passed me at a distance of about 5 meters and with more than 100 km/h – I got it 🙂
I hope, that you got an impression, what this lens can do.
Thanks very much for looking
more of my images:
Thankyou – very interesting and great examples. Cheers
What a wonderful and inspiring photo essay you have here Dierk! It has certainly made an impression on me. I’ve ordered the A Mount Version and adapter so I can use it on either the A99 or the A7rii .. So looking forward to using the lens!
Thanks! Great info, never heard of this lens before, but now I definitely want one! If i ever manage to save up enough for an A7RII i will get this lens straight away!
As for the shift function, the manufacturer advertises it for crop usage so its probably pretty understandable that it is soft on FF.
Just curious, for someone not interested in the tilt function, will the voigtlander 15mm will be a much better lens?
I don’t own the 15mm Voigtlander, only the 12mm, The 12mm was not usable on the NEX and A7R but is great on the A7RII.
The reviews say, that the new CV 15mm is great on both models. If you don’t want the macro and some shift options, the CV may be a good alternative.
Thanks for the reply!
You really show the beauty and fascination of superwideangle photography. I’m just experimenting with a Zeiss 12mm (18mm equivalent) on a Sony NEX, so I was especially interested by your post. Thank you.
Great write up Dierk, very interesting and informative perspective – love the train shot.
Thank you Dierk, your beautiful Rathaus b & w shots sold me on the value of this lens.
You always find something to amaze us with! Thank you again…
The links to the flickr images got lost somehow.
Here are more of my images made with this lens:
and the full res images for detailed info (large files!):
You got it right. Very nice pictures.
The shot with bubbles is absolutely amazing! I have ordered the lens more than a week ago and still waiting for it… How long did you wait to get your copy?
I don’t really remember it.
As said, I preordered it a few weeks before it was available and it took about 3 weeks after they sent it till I could pick it up in the German customs.
Thank you! And, again, very nice pictures
“Don’t just sit there! Join in and leave a comment!” Can’t … I’m rendered speechless !
That last shot… absolutely amazing!!
It blows you away (literally, i suppose! hahahahaha)
You have a very good eye, I like a lot of them especially the bubble with the sun and the train. The last shot of the train is nuts that you caught it.