Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D Interview Summary


The Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D has been very well received by photographers everywhere for its exceptional image quality and low distortion. Phillipreeve has an interesting and lengthy interview with one of the engineers behind this great lens and I have summarized it below.

  • Mr. Li wanted to create lenses that photographers would enjoy more than the standard offerings
  • The Zero-D formulation is Sony specific and wouldn’t be as sharp on another sensor.
  • He balanced weight and size when designing the lens.
  • The ability to use screw on filters was also important.
  • He is trying to fill the gaps that exist before they are all filled.
  • Once several options exist the driving down of prices makes it hard to innovate.
  • Their near-zero distortion design and lens size is truly unique at this time.
  • Onion rings are caused by rough spots on aspherical elements and Laowa has dealt with this issue.
  • A lot of the technical testing for lenses is flawed and it’s especially the case with wide-angle tests.
  • They could have solved for the slight coma and astigmatism, but then the lens would be much larger and more expensive.
  • Phase Fresnel is really only useful in telephoto lenses at this time because it can create stray light that reduces contrast and transmission.
  • Mr. Li wants to make a lot of lenses, but he needs his team to grow and mature some before they are ready.
  • LAOWA means old Frog in Chinese and it’s a metaphor for a story about a Frog in a well and how it limits his knowledge. It’s an interesting story worth checking out in the interview.
  • And yes Mr. Li shoots with what he creates

Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D: Venus Optic / B&H PhotoAmazon / Adorama

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