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Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D: Three Aperture Series + Distortion Explained

See Sony mirrorless wish list.

The about $949 Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D promises zero distortion (“Zero-D”) in an extreme ultra wide angle lens with f/2.8 lens speed.

Distortion is the bane of resolution: too much and you’ll have to correct it, which means stretching pixels apart somewhere in the frame. I take issue with presenting optical MTF charts for lenses with distortion strong enough to require correction—the MTF becomes misleading.

Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D

Optical distortion is not to be confused with so-called “perspective distortion” which is a law of physics. I explain that in more detail on this page, with two examples, one level, and one off-level:

Optical Distortion vs Perspective 'Distortion'

In addition, I evaluate the Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D in three distinct aperture series, each one showing optical performance:

Each series includes images up to full resolution from f/2.8 through f/11, along with crops and commentary.

The results are definitive and should prove useful to anyone considering the Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D.

f11 @ 0.3 sec, ISO 50; 2018-03-12 17:46:44
Sony A7R III + Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D @ 0mm equiv (12mm)

[low-res image for bot]
f8 @ 1/30 sec, ISO 50; 2018-03-12 17:49:55
Sony A7R III + Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D @ 0mm equiv (12mm)

[low-res image for bot]
f11 @ 0.4 sec, ISO 50; 2018-03-12 17:42:30 [diffraction mitigating sharpening, LACA corrected]
Sony A7R III + Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D @ 0mm equiv (12mm)

[low-res image for bot]
f11 @ 1/5 sec, ISO 50; 2018-03-12 17:43:17 [diffraction mitigating sharpening, LACA corrected]
Sony A7R III + Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D

[low-res image for bot]
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