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Laowa 12mm f/2.8 to be the Widest Rectilinear f/2.8 Lens

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Chinese lens maker Venus Optics is set to launch a new lens called the Laowa 12mm f/2.8. It will be the world’s widest rectilinear f/2.8 lens.

The company is marketing the lens as a ZERO-D, or zero distortion, lens. While most lenses with such an extremely wide angle of view have fisheye distortion, this upcoming lens is a rectilinear lens that produces straight features.

Canon launched a world’s widest rectilinear lens last year, but the Canon 11-24mm f/4L has a fixed maximum aperture of f/4, so Venus Optics’ new lens is a full stop faster.

The downside is that it’s a manual focus lens, while Canon’s offering has autofocus.

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Other specs include multiple extra low dispersion and aspherical elements, 16 elements in 10 groups, a 121.96° angle of view, a 7-blade aperture, a minimum focusing distance of 18cm (~7.09in), and a weight of 1.34lb (609g).

Here are some sample photos captured with the lens:

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Photographer Nicky Bay got his hands on a preview unit of the lens. It has a full metal finish and a solid construction.

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“Did it get me interested in landscape and astro-photography?,” Bay writes. “Yes, it is a really fun and sharp lens to have with features that addresses the needs of many landscape and astro photographers!”

Here’s a short 1.5-minute video he made as a preview for the lens (you can also read a longer writeup on his blog):

Venus Optics will be officially launching the Laowa 12mm f/2.8 on July 30th, 2016, with a Kickstarter campaign to take preorders. Available mounts include Canon EF, Nikon AI, Sony A, Pentax K, and Sony E. Stay tuned.


Image credits: Sample photographs courtesy Venus Optics

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