Laowa 14mm f/4 FF RL Zero-D - Review / Test Report - Sample Images & Verdict
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha (Full Format)

Sample Images

Click on an image for downloading the full-size variant.

MakeSONY
ModelILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed200
Focal Length
Aperture:f/
Exposure1/320s

MakeSONY
ModelILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed200
Focal Length
Aperture:f/
Exposure1/3200s

MakeSONY
ModelILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed200
Focal Length
Aperture:f/
Exposure1/160s

MakeSONY
ModelILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed200
Focal Length
Aperture:f/
Exposure1/320s

MakeSONY
ModelILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed200
Focal Length
Aperture:f/
Exposure1/200s

MakeSONY
ModelILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed200
Focal Length
Aperture:f/
Exposure1/500s

MakeSONY
ModelILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed200
Focal Length
Aperture:f/
Exposure1/400s

MakeSONY
ModelILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed200
Focal Length
Aperture:f/
Exposure1/500s

MakeSONY
ModelILCE-7RM2
ISO Speed200
Focal Length
Aperture:f/
Exposure1/500s

Verdict

It's always a bit of a fresh breeze when receiving a Laowa lens for a review because it's usually not about another variation of a mainstream topic. The Laowa 14mm f/4 FF RL Zero-D isn't quite as extreme as its even wider cousins but this is also a good thing. While the Laowa 9mm f/5.6 FF is even more dramatic, a 14mm f/4 is simply usable in more real-life situations. And it doesn't disappoint optically although it also has a few issues. Images are very sharp in the image center and the borders are also very decent. Stopped down to f/5.6, this applies to the image corners as well. Lateral CAs are minimal for such a lens and image distortions are also very low. Laowa decided to implement a rather simple aperture mechanism with just 5 straight blades. If this was a portrait lens, this would have been a reason for concern but on an ultra-wide lens, this setup can produce very nice sun stars at small aperture settings. Flare is also quite well controlled. Ultra-wide lenses tend to produce a quite rough bokeh but it's actually pretty smooth here. In terms of weaknesses, we have to list at least two. Vignetting is very high even at f/8 and field curvature is an issue at closer focus distances.

The build quality of the compact Laowa lens is very good thanks to a tightly assembled all-metal body and smooth controls. The designers even managed to avoid the usual bulb-like front element thus you can actually mount 52mm front filters which don't even cost an arm and a leg. The 14mm f/4 is, once again, an all-manual lens without electronic coupling. For some, this will be a showstopper although it's not a major issue on a 14mm lens really. Accurate focus is possible via a magnified live view. While this may slow you down, the Laowa isn't really meant for action photography anyway.

Such ultra-wide lenses are extremely difficult to manufacture and we hope that Laowa can lift their game in terms of quality control. Our test sample was a final pre-production version and not perfect in terms of focus and optical alignment. Assuming a good sample, the Laowa 14mm f/4 FF RL Zero-D can be lots of fun and unlike many other options, it's not a burden to carry around.


Optical Quality:    
★★★★★
Mechanical Quality:
★★★★★
Price/Performance:
★★★★★

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