Ahead of Photokina, Venus Optics has announced two new lenses for mirrorless cameras. The Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D follows in the footsteps of the previously unveiled 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D, promising a wide, 110-degree angle of view with near zero distortion on full frame cameras. If the claim holds up, this will be an excellent landscape and architecture lens.
Amazingly, despite the extreme wide angle and fast aperture, Venus Optics has managed to fit it with a standard 72mm filter thread. For landscape shooters, that means attaching an ND filter or polarizer is cheap and easy compared to the complex and expensive filter holder systems that are required for many ultra wide angle lenses.
The 15mm is built specifically for the Sony E mount, and Venus Optics has worked to control the size and weight of the lens in order to make it a good match for Sony’s full frame mirrorless cameras. This means the lens will not be compatible with most other mirrorless systems and especially not DSLRs — even with an adapter — because Sony’s E mount flange distance is so short.
The second lens introduced is the Laowa 7.5mm f/2 wide angle for Micro Four Thirds cameras (Panasonic and Olympus). Despite its very short focal length, this is still a rectilinear lens, which makes it the widest non-fisheye lens for the MFT system.
As MFT shooters may have noticed, this lens is half the focal length of the 15mm, which means it offers an equivalent field of view given the 2x crop factor of MFT sensors. Indeed, Venus Optics states it has a 110-degree angle of view, although note that it lacks the “Zero-D” designation, so it likely has more visible distortion than its full frame counterpart.
Designed with aerial photography in mind, such as when mounted to the DJI Inspire 1 RAW camera that uses the MFT mount, the 7.5mm weighs just 0.37 pounds (170 grams) and is only 55mm long.
Prototypes of the new lenses will be on display at Photokina next week, but final versions aren’t expected to ship until spring 2017. At this time, Venus Optics has not released pricing information on either lens.