the Laowa 9mm f/2.8 is a very interesting lens. It is designed for APS-C cameras (specifically mirrorless cameras including Sony E-mount ones, Fuji X-mount and Canon EF-M mounts. It is super tiny (only 215 grams or 7.5 ounces), very small in size but made from metal. It is fully manual with a 49mm filter thread and a 12cm (4.5″) min focus distance.
The three biggest selling point of this lens (besides it petite size) is the zero distortion (this is how Venus Optics advertise it), the fast aperture (f/2.8 is nice for this sort of lens) and the very very wide angle (9mm which is equivalent in viewing angle to 13.5mm on FF).
So how does it perform in real life? According to Frost – very well actually. It is very sharp wide open (although the copy he had – had field curvature which made the corners a bit softer – closing to f/4 will fix that – we would like to test this ourselves). The lens has no CA and as advertised – there is no distortion – which is very impressive. It does have vignette wide open which improves when you close down but never disappears. Performance against bright light isn’t perfect either but it is also not as bad as a few other ultrawide angle lenses that we looked at in the past.
At the end of the day, it seems that the Laowa 9mm f/2.8 fulfill its promise and despite some minor issues Venus Optics made another unique lens that might find its way to the camera bag of quite a few photographers.
The Laowa 9mm f/2.8 sells for $500 and should start shipping in April 2018.