Venus Optics has launched a new ultra-wide zoom lens for full-frame mirrorless cameras. The Laowa 12-24mm f/5.6 Zoom is available in Leica M, Nikon Z, Canon RF and Sony E-mount. It’s also an entirely manual lens, so exposure and focus are all down to you.
Reframe without needing to change your exposure
The Laowa 12-24mm f/5.6 Zoom has a fixed maximum aperture throughout its range. This means you can reframe your shot by changing focal length without needing to change exposure. However, at only f/5.6, this lens is not aimed at those seeking great low-light performance. The Laowa 12-24mm lens has a five-bladed aperture which Venus Optics says gives you a 10-point sunstar bokeh.
The Laowa 12-24mm lens has a close focus distance of only 5.9 inches at all focal lengths. This means you can achieve great shallow depth of field shots by focusing on a subject close to your camera. The lens also has an angle of view from 84 degrees to 121 degrees.
The Laowa 12-24mm lens is constructed with 15 elements in 11 groups. These include two aspherical elements and three ED (extra-low dispersion) elements. The 12-24mm lens is not part of Laowa’s Zero-D (zero distortion) series. However, Venus Optics says that the lens does do a good of minimizing distortion. This means it should be great for architecture or interior shots when you want the flexibility of a zoom lens. In addition, the 12-24mm lens has a water and dust repelling “Frog Eye” Coating (FEC). Venus Optics says that this gives your lens an extra layer of protection compared to traditional coatings. The Laowa 12-24mm lens is also compatible with 77mm filters — with the lens hood.
The Laowa 12-24mm lens is only 3.3 inches long and weighs 1.09 pounds. Venus Optics claims that “compared to other brands’ 12-24mm lenses for mirrorless cameras, the lens is relatively smaller and lighter.” To illustrate this, the company has compared the 12-24mm lens to three lenses from their competitors. However, one of these was actually lighter and the other wasn’t dramatically heavier. The comparison lenses also all offer a wider maximum aperture of f/4. It’s also important to note they’re all around two to three times more expensive than the Laowa 12-24mm.
The sample images that Venus Optics has shared from the Laowa 12-24mm lens include some great landscape and architectural photos. The fixed aperture is also ideal for video use as you can reframe without changing exposure. Venus Optics might find that some people will be put off by the fact that the maximum aperture is only f/5.6. However, at this price point, it might be worth renting and testing the Laowa 12-24mm lens to see if it meets your needs.
You can buy the Laowa 12-24mm f/5.6 zoom lens directly from Venus Optics now. It retails at $649 for Canon RF, Nikon Z and Sony E-mount versions. The Leica M mount option is a little more expensive at $700.