Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Fujifilm X

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published March 2018


Let's start with the fun facts first - "Laowa" - what does that actually mean? Any guesses? In Chinese, it means "(Old) Frog". Why is that? The owner of Laowa (who is also one of the designers) likes the fantasy of a frog looking into the blue sky as his dreamland. Hard to understand from a western perspective but then why not? It may also give you a hint where the name of the Laowa's lens coating - FEC or Frog Eye Coating - is coming from.

Ok, back to the review of the new Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D. It is a fully manual APS-C format lens that is available in Sony E, Canon EF-M and Fujifilm X mount. We have tested the Fujifilm version here. In full format terms, it is equivalent to a 15mm lens. As such it resembles the Laowa 7.5mm f/2 for MTF that we reviewed a while ago. That also applies to its pricing - 499USD. Another similarity is the size. While not a pancake lens in shape, it is tiny compared to the more mainstream offerings.

The build quality of this dwarfish lens is very good thanks to a tightly assembled all-metal construction. The focus ring is comparatively stiff but not in a bad way. The Laowa is a fully manual lens thus you can't control the aperture via the camera - but at least on Fujifilm cameras, it is rather normal to select the aperture on the lens anyway. There are distinctive aperture clicks in full f-stop steps. Typically you are using A-mode so the camera will determine the shutter speed according to the aperture setting. EXIF data is also not produced due to the lack of electronic communication. Consequently, you will also just see a f/0 in the viewfinder. A very small, petal-shaped, metal lens hood is provided.

Just to give you a better idea of the dimensions of the Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D - below is a comparison to the Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS.

Equiv. focal length"14mm" (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperture"f/4.5" (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction15 elements 10 groups (incl. 2x aspherical and 3x ELD elements)
Number of aperture blades7
min. focus distance0.12m (1:7.5)
Filter size49mm
Hoodsupplied, petal-shaped, bayonet mount
Other featuresFrog Eye Coating (FEC)
Available MountsFujifilm X, Canon EF-M, Sony E

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