First Impressions: Venus Optics Laowa 15mm f2 (Sony FE)

If you’ve known anything about Venus Optics and what they’ve been doing for the past couple of years, you’ll know they entered the manual focusing lens world and are promising a zero-distortion 15mm f2 lens to be delivered soon for the Sony full frame E mount. At Photokina 2016, we got a chance to meet with the company to give the lens a bit of a try on the original Sony a7. So far, it seems like they’re holding themselves very closely to their claims.

To be fair, I tested a pre-production unit and our reps tell us that the production version of the lens will be around 30% better.

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

Micro Four Thirds

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

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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.

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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

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This lens is made of metal. It’s not like Leica or Zeiss metal, but more along the lines of what Tamron offers with their new SP lineup of lenses. However, it doesn’t feature weather sealing. The focusing ring is pretty nice and the experience overall is very pleasant.

Oh yeah, and it’s small–much smaller than any other 15mm lens that I’ve used.

Focusing

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Focusing is done manually. There is no sort of electronic confirmation and so you’ll need to use the magnification feature or Sony’s autofocus peaking. Either one works fine in my short test.

Image Quality

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I got to spend around 15 minutes with the lens attached to my Sony a7. These are sample images from the pre-production unit. The Venus Optics reps say that this lens will be around 30% better when it’s totally done.

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First Impressions

If this is what Venus Optics is offering us so far, then we’re quite impressed. They’re promising zero distortion with this lens and so far it doesn’t have a whole lot. It’s going to be very interesting to see what the results from the final lens are like. As it is, their wide angle optics are very good.

We’re calling in a review unit, and that will be coming to us in the future. Stay tuned!