Venus Optics has announced the new Laowa 6mm f/2 Zero-D lens, the widest rectilinear lens available for Micro Four Thirds. It’s essentially a photography version of the Laowa 6mm T2.1 cine lens announced back in February. It uses the same optical makeup but in a more handheld-friendly package. And while this one lacks the 0.8 MOD gears of its cinema counterpart, it does feature electrical contacts to pass EXIF data to the camera body.
The tiny 188g lens offers a massive 121.9° field of view with close-to-zero distortion, making it ideal for wide vistas, interior and exterior architecture and astrophotography, thanks to its large f/2 aperture. And with a 9cm minimum focus distance, this lens can let you get some very unusual and interesting compositions.
Being such a wide lens, it offers a unique perspective and it’s light enough that it can be used both on the ground and in the air. Even though it’s a manual focus lens, once you set the focus ring past 0.5 metres, it goes straight to infinity. So, if you’re flying it up on a drone like the DJI Inspire or XDynamics Evolve 2 (review here), it’s basically a case of just set it and forget it – although I’d probably hold the focus ring with a piece of gaffer tape to be safe.
Like its cinema counterpart, the Laowa 6mm f/2 Zero-D contains 13 elements in 9 groups with two aspherical elements to control the distortion and earn that Zero-D moniker of which Laowa is so proud. The sample photos provided by Laowa certainly seem to back up this “close-to-zero distortion” claim, too. And its coatings don’t appear to interfere with infrared-converted cameras, either.
You’ll notice that unlike the Laowa 6mm T2.1, the Laowa 6mm f/2 does not sport an aperture ring. The Laowa 6mm f/2 actually continues a CPU chip and motor. With electronic communications between the camera lens and body, this means that you are able to adjust the aperture via the camera body. You’ll also have lens metadata will also be stored within the EXIF of your raw and jpg files. Very handy when you want to sort your images by which lens was used.
On the front of the lens is a 58mm thread for attaching screw-on filters and a five-blade aperture lets you create 10-point sun stars by stopping down the aperture. The whole sun stars thing is something that I hear a lot of people complaining about recently. Sure, it’s a nice effect to have now and again, but it can interfere and become distracting for many images. – particularly when it overpowers a landscape or you’re shooting nighttime street photography with lots of light sources in the shot.
|Format||Micro Four Thirds|
|Mounts||Micro Four Thirds|
|Angle of view||121.9°|
|Optics||13 elements in 3 groups|
|Min focus distance||9cm|
|Dimensions||61 x 52mm|
I was already thinking about picking up the Laowa 6mm T2.1 cine at some point, but I think now I’ll be going for this one instead, even for video. The electronic communications providing the ability for the camera to control the aperture rather than it being a manual mechanical ring will make life much easier when putting this up in the air on a drone with remote control exposure. The 6mm f/2 is quite a bit cheaper than the 6mm T2.1, too!
The Laowa 6mm f/2 Zero-D for Micro Four Thirds is available to buy now for $499 from the Venus Optics website.