Review: Venus Optics Laowa 15mm f2 (Sony E Mount, Full Frame)

The Venus Optics Laowa 15mm f2 lens is promising zero distortion, and when in use it honestly holds itself very well to that promise. This lens appeals a whole lot to the urban geometry and architecture photographer in addition to the interior and real estate photographer. The reason for this obviously has to do with the lack of distortion. In many ways, you can say that it surely is zero distortion but if you run it through some editing programs you’ll see that it isn’t quite totally eliminated but it’s surely close. It isn’t as complicated as something like the company’s lenses with shift abilities built in. But it’s surely quite a great option.

Pros and Cons

 

Pros

 

  • Lightweight
  • Good metal exterior
  • Clicky aperture
  • Not a large lens at all
  • Feels nice in the hand
  • Sharp image quality

 

Cons

 

  • Something about it doesn’t feel completely, perfectly solid. If you shake it about a bit, the lens feels and sounds like something is a bit loose.

 

Gear Used

We tested the Venus Optics Laowa 15mm f2 with the Sony a7.

Tech Specs

Specs table taken from our original news post

Lens

 

15mm f/2

 

7.5mm f/2 

Focal Length

 

15mm

 

7.5mm

 

Maximum Aperture (Fno)

 

F/2.0

 

F/2.0 

Angle of view

 

110°

 

110°

 

Format Compatibility

 

Full Frame

 

Minimum Focus distance

 

5.91” (15cm)

 

4.72” (12cm)

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio

 

0.25x

 

0.11x 

Focusing

 

Manual Focus

 

Manual Focus

 

Filter Thread

 

72mm

 

49mm 

Dimensions(DxL)

 

Φ66×82mm

 

Φ50x55mm

 

Weight

 

1.10 lb (500 g)

 

0.37 pounds (170g) 

Mounts

 

Sony FE

 

MFT

 

 

Ergonomics

Taken from our first impressions blog post.

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The Venus Optics 15mm f2 is a lens much like the company’s previous offerings: it features metal overall and a very traditional layout and design due to its manual focusing feature. The front element is purposely designed to be a bit further back to allow the lens to have an area for a lens filter.

chris-gampat-the-phoblographer-venus-optics-lauwa-15mm-f2-first-impressions-product-images-3-of-9iso-2001-500-sec-at-f-1-4

When you look at the lens, you’ll notice the two controls: one ring for the aperture and the other is for the focusing. Between both of these is the depth of field scale used to get your lens properly in focus when you need to. Of course, you also have Sony’s focus peaking, but for architecture, zone focusing can also work.

Build Quality

The Venus Optics Laowa 15mm f2 lens is made of metal on the outside. The metal itself feels very nice and when you hold the lens, the overall build quality isn’t too bad. However, I genuinely feel like Venus Optics lenses could be a bit more solid. I’m not talking about weather sealing, I’m talking about the fact that if you shake the lens, something about it feels like the exterior is a bit loose. This isn’t the case with the company’s 15mm f4 Macro lens, which I own.

Of course, the Venus Optics Laowa 15mm f2 also doesn’t have weather sealing. If you’re shooting outdoors or inside, I’m sure that that won’t be a problem considering the light.

Ease of Use

The Venus Optics Laowa 15mm f2 lens is pretty simple to use if you’re used to manual focus and manual aperture. So essentially if you use mechanical cameras then you’re all good. There is an effective zone focusing ability and the focus peaking from the Sony system works very well.

Focusing

There is manual focus operation with the Venus Optics Laowa 15mm f2. You’ve got the option of focusing really closely but most of the time you’re better off just focusing out to infinity anyway.

Image Quality

The Venus Optics Laowa 15mm f2 has some overall pretty great image quality. What folks may care about the most is the distortion but in my personal opinion, we live in a world where we should be beyond that. The color output is fairly neutral and time and time again I found it to rely more on what Sony’s current color profile and white balance are more than anything else. Amazingly, you’d also probably love the fact that it has bokeh.

Bokeh

So why would you use a 15mm f2 lens for the bokeh? Why not? Lots of folks do these days. In this case, the bokeh isn’t creamy or hazy. But isn’t the focus fall off is very smooth. Still though I wouldn’t use this lens for the bokeh.

Chromatic Aberration

 

Original

So here’s the original file up top. As it is, that isn’t bad.

Edited

Now using Capture One 10, this is what the software thinks the image should be. Personally, I like the original better. But that could be just me.

Color Rendition

The Laowa 15mm f2 is very nice color; but to be fair it’s also pretty neutral overall. If you’re using something like the Sony Clear color profile or the landscape profile, you’ll more or less be at the mercy of that color rendition. With that said, you may barely even be able to tell the difference between this and a proper Sony lens.

Sharpness

I’m really a fan of the sharpness from the Laowa 15mm f2. The best sharpness comes out between f8 and f5.6. But that’s standard for so many lenses.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

 

Likes

 

  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Good image quality
  • Low distortion

 

Dislikes

 

  • Could benefit from a bit better build quality

The Venus Optics Laowa 15mm f2 lens is a really fantastic lens option. It isn’t extremely expensive at $849. And for the price point it surely is offering very low distortion. For the photographer that will more or less just focus out to infinity and go on about life this lens is a great option.

The Venus Optics Laowa 15mm f2 receives four out of five stars.