Added to the four lenses launched earlier this year in the Beijing Photograph and Electronic Imaging show, this means Venuse Optics Laowa will be showing off twelve new Loawa-branded lenses at Photokina 2018. This is an amazing output from a company that’s shown itself capable of producing top-quality optical performance from some inventive and envelope-stretching lens designs.
Specialising so far mostly in macro lenses and ultra-wideangles, Venus Optics is now moving into video, drone photography, zoom lenses and the Micro Four Thirds market.
Amongst the company’s new cine lenses, the oddly-named Laowa OOOM 25-100 t/2.9 cine lens looks the most interesting, with a 25-100mm zoom range and a constant t/2.9 maximum aperture. It’s designed to be truly ‘par focal’ (no focus shift when you zoom) and with nearly zero focus ‘breathing’ (magnification change). It’s designed for the Super 35mm format (PL mount), which is very roughly APS-C size.
In the same format, there’s a Laowa 12mm t/2.9 Zero-D cine lens, which is a modified version of Laowa’s existing 12mm Zero-D design – the ‘Zero-D’ indicates lenses designed to have essentially zero distortion.
Laowa also has a new 7.5mm t/2.1 Zero-D for Micro Four Thirds cameras and a 9mm, t/2.9 Zero-D cine lens for Sony E-mount APS-C cameras. These are cine-modified versions of existing Laowa lenses, modified with steepless aperture rings and geared focus rings for follow-focus accessories.
Laowa has especially good news for owners of Micro Four Thirds cameras, with a new Laowa 17mm f/1.8 MFT compact standard prime lens equivalent to 35mm in full frame terms. It has 9 elements in 7 groups and weighs just 160g.
It’s joined by a Laowa 12mm f/1.8 MFT lens (24mm equivalent) with 13 elements in 10 groups and a minimum focus distance of just 14mm. This lens weighs only a fraction more at 165g, and both lenses take 46mm filters.
Laowa has also added a Micro Four Thirds version of its 9mm f/2.8 APS-C mirrorless lens. On MFT bodies the Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D MFT is equivalent to an 18mm prime, and the smaller sensor means reduced vignetting.
Finally, there’s a new Laowa 4mm f/2.8 Fisheye MFT circular fisheye for the Micro Four Thirds format, with a 210-degree angle of view and a weight of just 135g.
Drone pilots get some attention too (if they use DJI DL) cameras. There’s a Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D (DJI DL) lens with a 118-degree angle of view – currently the widest available lens for the DJI Inspire 2 with Zenmuse X7 gimbal, and the image circle is big enough for Super35 sensors too.
It’s not all about small formats. Venus Optics will also be showing off its new Laowa 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 FE Zoom for Sony full frame mirrorless cameras. It’s even wider than Sony’s own 12-24mm zoom and, if we remember correctly, the widest rectilinear zoom for any full frame camera. Laowa’s ultra-wide FE mount zoom is also designed to be compact, weighing just 500g, despite being packed with 14 elements in 10 groups. There’s a rear filter slot for 37mm drop-in filters but we’re told a front filter holder for 100mm wide filters is on its way.
Extending its line-up of macro lenses, the company will be revealing its new Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO for full frame Canon, Nikon and Pentax DSLRs as well as in a Sony FE mount.
And it will also have its Laowa 17mm f/4 GFX Zero-D lens for Fujifilm’s medium format GFX 50s. This is especially exciting for GFX fans as it’s the widest currently available lens for this format, equivalent to a 13mm lens in full frame terms and boasting “close-to-zero” distortion.
The lens market is especially exciting right now, as a whole raft of third-party lens makers experiments with more exotic and affordable lens designs than we’re used to seeing from camera makers, and Venus Optics, especially, is really on a roll right now.
More information: Venus Optics Laowa website