laowa lenses

Venus Optics unveils 3 wide-angle lenses for Canon RF and Nikon Z

Chinese premium optics manufacturer Venus Optics has released 3 existing lenses on other systems for Nikon Z-mount and Canon RF-mount. These are the models:

  • Laowa 24mm F / 14 2x Macro Probe - $ 1950
  • Laowa 4mm F / 2.8 Fisheye - $ 250
  • Laowa 9mm F / 2.8 Zero-D - $ 650

All of these lenses are non-autofocus. Previously, they could be bought on Sony E-mount, but now users of Nikon and Canon mirrorless cameras can also enjoy high-quality widths.

I previously had review on Laowa 14mm f4 Zero-D and I must admit that the quality of the optics is very high. This lens is optically much better than the new Canon RF 16mm f2.8 or Samyang RF 14mm f2.8. But without autofocus than ultra wide angle can easily sacrifice.

Laowa lenses have established themselves as high quality optics and an adequate alternative to native lenses in various directions.

what is tilt shift

How do tilt & shift lenses work?

I thought about buying a tilt-shift lens when I decided to upgrade Samyang 14mm f2.8. After all, interior photography - one of the areas of commercial photography where the use of tilt-shift optics makes sense. I met one friend, tried the Canon TS-E 24mm f3.5L II and realized that for my practical tasks, buying such glass would be unjustified and excessive. Instead of tilt-shift I bought a Canon 14mm f2.8L II.

Now let's go in order.

What are tilt and shift lenses?

These lenses allow you to tilt or shift the optical focusing plane. In other words, you can move the lenses inside the lens relative to your camera's sensor. The displacement takes place using small latches on the lens barrel.

The design of such lenses is traditionally complex. They have a lot of optical elements and, in addition to them, a complex mechanism of rotation and fixation of optics in different planes is implemented.

tilt shift lens In addition to this, such optics are usually intended for use on full-frame cameras, but in fact covers the area of ​​the medium format matrix. This is because the optics have to cover a much larger area to be able to bias than in normal use.

Why are there such difficulties?

Here we come to the most important thing, because tilt-shift lenses cost an average of 1500-2000 dollars and do not have either zooming or autofocus. Why do you need such lenses?

It all boils down to two things:

  • Focus control
  • Perspective management

Optical axis tilt allows you to change the focusing plane.

With conventional lenses, we are used to the fact that for two or more objects to be in the field of focus, they must be at the same distance from the camera. A classic example, if you put bottles in a row and put them at an angle to the camera, then the nearest bottle will be sharp (if we focus on it), and all subsequent ones will go out of focus as we move away from the camera. If you move the optical axis of the tilt-shift lens to the desired angle, then you can make all the bottles sharp in such a photo.

What exactly should be the position of the lens relative to the object being shot describes Scheimpflug principle or this effect is achieved by a scientific poke method. One way or another, you must understand that for this the camera is mounted on a tripod and it takes time.

Such a technique is used in subject photography: for jewelry, photography of food (food shooting), beauty filming.

Optical axis shift (shift) allows you to align the perspective of the frame.


When the optical axis is shifted, the lens remains at its normal angle to the camera, but moves away from the camera. This is how it looks mechanically. The effect you get is shifting the entire image in the viewfinder.
A classic use case: the camera is aimed at a building at a right angle. You get smooth, not overwhelmed, walls, but in the frame you see only its lower part. Then on the lens you turn the lever responsible for the shift (shift) the lens rises relative to the camera, and in the viewfinder you see the whole building and without the usual blockages.

With a conventional lens, in order to capture an entire building from the same point, you would need to tilt the camera and look up. This would inevitably lead to a blockage of the perspective of the image. The shift function allows you to place the camera at a right angle to a building, shift the lens relative to the camera sensor and get an even perspective.

It is used in architectural and interior photography. A similar effect can be obtained programmatically, but naturally with some losses.

But that's not all. Tilt-shift lenses can still be rotated around their axis. If you hold the optical shift (shift) in the horizontal plane, then you get a convenient tool for stitching panoramas. It looks like this: the camera is mounted on a tripod (this is the only way to work with tilt-shifts) and a series of frames is taken with the lens shifted to the left and right from the center of the image (it is also possible vertically, but it is used less often). This panorama is then stitched together into one image and you get a medium format photo using your full frame camera.

It is applied in architectural, interior, landscape and also subject photography.

When talking about commercial shooting using tilt-shift lenses, you need to add before the name of each direction hi-end.

This level of meticulousness in the filming process can be justified:

a) large fees for each photo
b) your enthusiasm for amateur photography.

For ordinary orders in the same directions, there are much simpler ways to achieve similar results. The perspective in real estate photography is leveled by software, a greater depth of field in subject photography is provided by wider focal lengths in conjunction with image cropping or focus stacking. Tilt-shift allows you to get high-resolution and detailed images, where it is required - a question, because 99% of modern commercial filming is done for the purpose of publishing photos on the Internet. And where large-format printing is needed, software methods of photo processing are already enough. But then again, this can be justified in hi-end photography for global brands.

In the video below, I will talk about the principle of tilt-shift lenses, their areas of application, and also consider most of the current models of such optics.

And yet, I bought a 24mm tilt-shift:

Manual autofocus for photography - good or bad?

An influx mirrorless cameras Sony has brought up this seemingly irrelevant topic. Everyone is used to autofocus and its convenience. When test each lens they always compare the speed, accuracy and reliability of this mechanism. And here's a new trend:

Sony a7 cameras are so cool that you can pick up any vintage glass through an adapter and it is very convenient to focus manually.

camera sony a7 sii

I have heard this argument very often, so I decided to share my thoughts on this topic.

About the adapter... Let's start with the fact that the adapter can be put on ANY camera. It doesn't smell of any uniqueness here. But the point is different. Sony has tons of features to make manual focusing easier: peaking, zooming in, zebra crossing, electronic subject distance metering, etc. Sounds cool, isn't it?

Is manual focus good?

Everyone wants and ties shoelaces focuses. This is the choice of everyone. Somebody creates Masterpieces and with a set like this:

photo junk

Manual lenses are good for amateur photography and sometimes video. For commercial photography, lenses without autofocus are of little use. Try shoot corporate on some super cool manual Zeiss.

Even if you get the hang of (with picking and other crap) quickly work with them, the speed and accuracy will not be comparable to autofocus models. The airiness of the design of a super vintage lens is not as important to the client as the content and quality of the photos they receive.

Autofocus optics allow you to work more with a person and not with a camera. This has a positive effect on the shooting process and its effectiveness. To get a good shot with a person, you need to shoot a lot and not waste time (for which he, by the way, pays). Manual lenses require an unreasonable amount of attention to themselves and slow down the shooting process. When a photoset takes a long time, people get tired. And if it's a wedding, then everything is scheduled by the minute and your fuss with focusing will lead to the fact that people will get a minimum of photos from a walk.

Why are adapters and manual glasses so advertised for Sony cameras?

Because Sony has a problem with its native lenses. Their choice is small, they are excessively expensive, and the quality of autofocus is inferior to DSLRs.

sony a7 sr ii camera

As a result, a person who has bought a Sony camera gets an adapter and hangs something non-native there. This is just a general phenomenon. What to hang there? There are several options:

a) cheap Soviet lens for 400 UAH... Cool decision considering the cost of the camera. Interesting bokeh, does not work well in backlight, with sharpness as luck would have it.

b) Canon lens. I personally saw many people with Canon 24-70 f2.8 first version... A chic lens with perfect autofocus, which remains inactive in such a bundle.

c) an expensive hand-held lens like something from the Carl Zeiss Distagon series. We have not seen.

What comes out of this?

Anyone with a configuration will praise and extol its benefits. Therefore, it makes no sense to consider these sets in detail. I only admire how individual companies are trying to set the fashion for technology. We see that our lenses compete poorly with Nikon or Canon, so we will advertise the adapter and talk about convenient manual focus.

Cool photographers know how to work by hand

We can say that before professional photographers somehow filmed with hand-held lenses and everything was fine. And now the films do not even show and in general everyone is spoiled. And so, but not so. Of course spoiled, so are the clients. Everyone's expectations, requirements and standards have risen. This is normal, because progress does not stand still. So why go back to the last century? Because this is a marketing whim of one company? Or is it because a hipster with a mirrorless and manual lens looks trendy? Unconvincing.

Interesting information about autofocus adapters for manual glasses:

In the next article, I share my experience of using various cameras: DSLRs vs Mirrorless.