Laowa: Fast Ultra Wide Lens With Zero Distortion

product_shot_5By Danny F. Santos (doddleNEWS)

Venus Optics announced their Laowa 12mm f/2.8 lens via a Kickstarter campaign and has already blown far past the initial $10,000 pledge goal. In fact as of this writing it’s at $273,559 with 28 days left to go in the campaign and for good reason.

The features of the lens are astounding, to say the least. Venus Optics took a wishlist of elements that photographers wanted in an ultra wide lens, and stuffed it into the Laowa — filmmakers and videographers will like them, too.

Here are the major features:

Near Zero Distortion

This is the big one. Ultra wide lenses tend to suffer a distortion rate between 2% and 5% which forces straight lines to appear bent in images. The Laowa lens features what Venus says is a close-to-zero distortion rate and the sample images they’ve provided makes me think the only way you would be able to detect any distortion is with a very accurate straight edge device.

122° Angle of View at f/2.8

The angle of view is a roomy 122 degrees at an impressive f-stop of only 2.8. That makes this the widest lens on the market at that low of an f-number.

Weight and Size

The Laowa is capable of all of that, and yet retain a small form factor, which is what you would expect to find. It’s also not a heavy lens, weighing in at just 609 grams (1.34 lb.), making it a breeze to carry around.

You can watch the Kickstarter video introducing the Laowa 12mm f/2.8 here and below!

Check out the gallery of sample images below:

In order to create the Laowa 12mm f/2.8, the Venus Optics team used 16 lens elements within the body of the lens in order to get the low distortion, low light features in such a light compact size. Here’s what the company said about design of the lens:

“The optical design features a 16 lens elements in 10 groups with 3pcs of Extra-Low Dispersion Elements and 2pcs of Aspherical Elements. This patented optical design delivers a high resolution from corners to corners, even in wide open (f/2.8) situation. Chromatic Aberration has also been controlled to the minimal.”

Because of the popularity of this lens on Kickstarter all the super early-bird perks are gone but there are still pledges $799 available or spend a little bit more to receive the lens a month earlier. You can pledge to the campaign on Kickstarter here.

The Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 will retail for $949 and should be available sometime at the end of the year. Here are the technical specifications:

  1. Maximum aperture: f/2.8
  2. Minimum aperture: f/22
  3. Focal Length: 12mm
  4. Angle of view: 121.96°
  5. Elements/Groups: 16/10 (3pcs ED, 2pcs ASP)
  6. Aperture Blades: 7
  7. Format compatibility: full frame
  8. Minimum Focus distance: 7.09” (0.18 cm)
  9. Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 0.2x
  10. Focusing: Manual
  11. Dimensions(DxL): Φ74.8×82.8mm
  12. Weight: 1.34 lb (609 g)
  13. Mounts: Canon EF / Nikon AI / Sony A / Pentax K / Sony FE
  14. Detachable hood
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Doddlenews is the news division of the Digital Production Buzz, a leading online resource for filmmakers, covering news, reviews and tutorials for the video and film industry, along with movie and TV news, and podcasting.

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