Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D - Review / Test Report - Sample Images & Verdict
Lens Reviews - Fujifilm X

Sample Images

Make FUJIFILM
Model X-T1
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 50.0mm
Aperture: f/NaN
Exposure 1/1900s
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Model X-T1
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 50.0mm
Aperture: f/NaN
Exposure 1/340s
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Model X-T1
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 50.0mm
Aperture: f/NaN
Exposure 1/170s
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Model X-T1
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 50.0mm
Aperture: f/NaN
Exposure 1/180s
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Model X-T1
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 50.0mm
Aperture: f/NaN
Exposure 1/100s
Make FUJIFILM
Model X-T1
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 50.0mm
Aperture: f/NaN
Exposure 1/280s
Make FUJIFILM
Model X-T1
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 50.0mm
Aperture: f/NaN
Exposure 1/320s
Make FUJIFILM
Model X-T1
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 50.0mm
Aperture: f/NaN
Exposure 1/850s
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Model X-T1
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 50.0mm
Aperture: f/NaN
Exposure 1/85s
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Model X-T1
ISO Speed 800
Focal Length 50.0mm
Aperture: f/NaN
Exposure 1/40s
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Model X-T1
ISO Speed 800
Focal Length 50.0mm
Aperture: f/NaN
Exposure 1/160s
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Model X-T1
ISO Speed 800
Focal Length 50.0mm
Aperture: f/NaN
Exposure 1/20s
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Model X-T1
ISO Speed 1000
Focal Length 50.0mm
Aperture: f/NaN
Exposure 1/30s
Make FUJIFILM
Model X-T1
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 50.0mm
Aperture: f/NaN
Exposure 1/70s

Verdict

We have to admit that we are having a sweet spot for everything unusual and the Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D qualifies here. The focal length is extreme - in fact, it is the widest rectilinear lens available in Fujifilm X mount (by a tiny margin) - but the real value proposition is the size of the lens. That doesn't mean that it's just soso optically. Extreme ultra-wide lenses are never perfect. Keeping this in mind the Laowa is pretty good indeed. It's super-sharp in the image center and if you avoid f/2.8, the borders/corners are decent. Lateral CAs are generally not an issue. Image distortions are extremely low for a lens of this focal length - and that's without image auto-correction. The primary weakness is vignetting which is rather extreme at max aperture. However, at medium aperture settings, it's a lesser issue outside of lab conditions. Flare in strong contra-light can produce quite a bit of glare - a generally weaker aspect in Laowa lenses it seems.

Mechanically, it punches above its class with an all-metal construction and tight control rings. It is an all-manual lens which is where a potential love affair may stop for some. Fujifilm users shouldn't have any issues selecting the aperture on the lens. Please note that there is no communication between the camera and the lens due to the missing electronic coupling. As such, there is no EXIF data and no aperture information in the viewfinder.

The Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D may have some shortcomings but that being said we really enjoyed using the lens out there. In real life, the fully manual character wasn't really an issue. Given the depth-of-field of a 9mm lens you can pretty much guess the focus distance and if needed for close-ups, you can just use magnified focus view in your camera. For most of us, a 9mm lens is quite exotic already thus it shouldn't be a burden when carrying it. The form and size factor is pretty perfect if these are your constraints as well. We heard that the Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT is pretty popular among the drone folks. The 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D has the potential to do the job (and more) on APS-C mirrorless cameras.

Priced at 499USD it isn't cheap in absolute terms but it's half the price of the Voigtlander 10mm f/5.6 Aspherical (Sony/Leica mount) and Fujifilm's own, much bigger XF 10-24mm f/4 OIS lens. It's also refreshing to see that while other manufacturers are releasing increasingly bigger lenses with every new generation, Laowa is trying to fight the mainstream with dwarfish offerings that are really more aligned to small mirrorless cameras. Other than in Fujifilm mount, the Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D will be available for Sony E and Canon EF-M as well.

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