Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D (Sony FE) - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published January 2019


Laowa is one of the many small manufacturers that emerged over the recent years. By today, they've established themselves as China's most significant player albeit they still got some distance to go until they reach the global mainstream. They released many interesting if not ambitious new lens designs - mostly ultra-wide prime lenses. While most established players are pushing quality to the max - accompanied by a recent trend of super-sizing every lens - Laowa is trying to balance size and performance. A good example of this philosophy is the Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D for Sony E-mount cameras. By ultra-wide standards, it is very fast, yet it weighs merely 500g combined with a compact size of just 66x82mm. That's quite an achievement for such a young company. Whether this can translate to a good performance is something to be seen later in this review.

In terms of mechanical qualities, there are both positive and negative aspects. On the positive side, the lens body is made of metal. Everything is tightly assembled and gives you a high-quality impression. The focus ring operates smoothly and is slightly dampened - typical of fully manual lenses. On the negative side, you will have to live without an electronically controlled aperture, EXIF info and also no AF. On Sony FE cameras these aren't massive drawbacks though. You can easily use focus magnification for accurate manual focusing. The aperture is directly changed on the lens. Unlike on DSLRs this isn't accompanied by a darker viewfinder image when stopping down. Instead, the camera will amplify the viewfinder image accordingly.

As far as focusing is concerned, it is worth mentioning that the Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D can focus down to just 15cm or a max. magnification ratio of 1:4 which is quite unique in such a lens. Of course, don't expect the performance of a macro lens here but at least you have some flexibility in this respect.

Optical construction12 elements in 9 groups including 2xAspherical & 3x ELD elements
Number of aperture blades7 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.15m (max. magnification ratio 1:4)
Filter size72mm
Hoodpetal-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)
Other features-
MountSony FE

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