Laowa 20mm f/4 Zero-D Shift lens review
Their lower 20 millimeter f4 0d shift lens. It is a totally manual full frame lens for digital slr cameras. Although the version you see here is a special one for sonys e mount mirrorless cameras with a built in adapter at the back, making it a little longer than one of their models for digital slrs. It costs about one thousand one hundred dollars in the us or 1150 pounds in the uk sounds like a lot of money, but its about half the price of canons, 17 millimeter tilt shift lens and only a third, the price of nikons, 19 millimeter tilt shift lens. Although this lower option does not feature a tilt function, id like to thank venus optics for providing this lens for testing, although, as usual, this is a totally independent review. Many of you will already know what a shift lens is by now, but heres, a recap. Just in case, the shift function here up to 11 millimeters on this lens enables you to correct your perspective for architecture, photography or any other kind of photography, where keeping straight lines straight is important. Yes, you can do this to your pictures in editing software too, but that will degrade your final image quality quite a bit and theres, nothing quite like getting it right when youre there in the field. You can also rotate this lens so that it shifts from left to right or any angle in between, and another neat trick is that the shift function can be used to make easily stitchable panorama.
Images just shift the lens all the way to the left, take a shot and then to the right, take another shot and make sure to keep the exposure the same by shooting in manual mode. Then stitch the pictures together and editing for a high resolution panorama neat available separately for a little over 200 pounds lower also make this interesting lens support, cage which also works with a 15 millimeter shift lens. It works by attaching the front of your lens to the tripod rather than the camera itself, and allows you to easily rotate your camera for panorama, shots of different kinds with the precision and simplicity that allows you to stitch the shots together very easily, even in microsoft. Paint if you want to its an expensive accessory for sure, but it has excellent, build quality, turning fantastically smoothly with no slack in its movements, and it could be useful for particularly exacting landscape and architecture photographers. My only complaint about it is that this hole in a tripod mount is not screw threaded, although it looks like it should be its an arca swiss mount so youll need to check that that works with your tripod, but even without that interesting device, the lenses shift Function is pretty useful for architecture or landscape photography, especially considering this lens is very wide angle of 20 millimeter. As i mentioned, this lens does not feature a tilt function, thats mostly used for professional product photography, though, which is hardly a priority on a wide 20 millimeter lens, so venus optics.
Just about gets away with that one. I think when it comes to build quality. This lens is excellent, its very solid, very metallic and easy to use its also a bit smaller than competing tilt shift lenses that are on the market, which are generally gigantic its based on a metal lens mount which does not have a weather sealing gasket around it. At the rear, come the controls for the shift mechanism and they are well designed. The shift mechanism can be locked in place with a little metal knob and a control ring lets you adjust the shift action very precisely just behind that is a switch which lets you rotate the shift mechanism, locking it in place every 15 degrees sandwiched between the shift Control ring and the focus ring comes a rather narrow, aperture control ring, which clicks into place every f stop. The aperture mechanism has 14 straight cut iris blades and in front of that comes a focus ring with a hyperfocal distance scale, which turns incredibly smoothly and slightly heavily, and is nice and precise to use as you change focus, the lens displays very little focus breathing. So thatll be helpful for anyone doing some unusual video work. The lens comes with a special metallic hood, which screws into place and when it is in place, you can still turn the hood around to stop it getting away when youre doing shift photography. It has an 82 millimeter filter size as well, which is very useful for landscape photography, getting some screw in filters on there.
Overall. This is a well built, tough manual focus lens and, as i mentioned, its also smaller than the more expensive tilt shift lenses out there. Its fairly easy to handle now onto image quality, im testing it on my sony a7r3, with its full frame 42 megapixel sensor. Firstly, lets test the lens normally unshifted in the middle of the image at f4. Sharpness is quite good, with good contrast. The image corners look softer, definitely but not dreadfully, so stop down to f 5.6 for a small improvement in the corners and even more sharpness in the middle f8 looks just as fantastic in the middle. The corners look a bit sharper, though they stay. This sharp down to f11 overall, i was hoping for a bit more corner sharpness here, but contrast is good and chromatic. Aberration is largely under control. Now lets shift the lens all the way up to its extreme and see what happens in the middle of the image. At f4 picture quality is soft, with lower contrast and clear astigmatism theres, more horizontal resolution than vertical, which is kind of what you tend to expect from a lens thats been shifted actually in the corner. Thats been stretched. The least we still see softness, but a lot more contrast. The corner thats been stretched. The most seems to offer better sharpness here, but its pretty dark, as you might expect, stop down to f 5.6 and things are clearer and a lot sharper in that stretched corner.
Now and the corner thats been stretched, the least sees a small improvement. Also, the middle of the image sees more clarity now, although things are still a bit fuzzy there stop down to f8 and the middle looks fairly good, albeit still with somewhat low contrast. The least stretched corner now looks very sharp. The most stretched corner looks fantastic too. At f 11, the corners remain as sharp as ever, but stop down any further say to f 16 or f 22, and the image really begins to lose contrast and resolution. Well, what a rollercoaster ride that was, unsurprisingly, as weve seen shifting the lens, brings in a considerable penalty for image quality, it is important to note once again that even the best shift lenses show these kind of image quality problems when fully shifted. You should avoid shifting this lens and shooting at f4, but stop down only to 5.6 or especially f8, for a big improvement in image quality, even in the most stretched shifted corners. Alright lets move on and take a look at distortion and vignetting. When the lens is unshifted, we are treated to almost no distortion and only slightly dark corners at f4, stop down to a 5.6 and they brighten up again now lets shift the lens. We notice a slight stretching to the distortion pattern now, but its nowhere near as bad as i expected, its still, mostly under control theres a lot more darkness in the top of the image, though, where the image has been stretched, the most stop down to f 5.
6 Or f, 8 or f 11 to see that slowly get pushed higher up, but itll always be there at least just a little now lets take a look at close up image quality. This thing can focus down to 25 centimeters, just about close enough for smaller subjects. Close up image quality at the maximum action of f4 is a little softer than before, but still good enough. Stop down to f 5.6 to see an immediate increase in sharpness, and contrast, though, now lets take a look at how the lens works against bright lights. Its a slightly below average performance here, although not too bad contrast, remains good, but theres. Some clear, circular flaring patterns which could suggest that the inner barrel of the lens could have been flocked. A little better now lets take a look at coma levels. Its good news here, even straight at f4, the lens shows no coma smearing on bright points of light, lets, zoom out and look for sun stars stop down to f 5.6 and they begin to emerge already and from there the more you stop down from f8 to F11 to f16 to f22, the better and bolder they get looking pretty incredible, actually and finally bokeh unless youre getting very close to your subject, then background separation is a bit of a moot point here, but generally out of focus, backgrounds are rendered averagely smoothly. Whenever you can get them, but occasionally with a little edge to them well, that lens took a while for me to test out overall, its image.
Quality is quite average for a shift lens, basically its usable enough at brighter apertures, but for good quality. Overall, you need to stop it down to f8 or f11, where it can get you some great images. It certainly costs far far less than the tilt shift lenses that canon and nikon offer, although obviously the lack of a tilt function somewhat accounts for that price difference. While were here, lets briefly see how it compares to its older brother, lauers, 15 millimeter, f, 4.5 shift lens. Looking back and comparing my test results, i found that the 15 millimeter lens was slightly sharper when shooting without any shift and the newer 20 millimeter lens a tiny bit sharper shooting while shifted the older 15 millimeter lens, can shoot more closely to your subject, which is Nice but the 20 millimeter lens displays less flaring. Both lenses display remarkably little distortion, which is great. I do prefer the wider angle of the more ambitious 15 millimeter lens in general, but the 20 millimeter lens can use crew and filters, which is particularly useful for landscape photography, and i prefer the look of it sun stars too. Both lenses have their strengths and weaknesses. Here but ultimately, if you are on the market for a shift lens and 20 millimeter is your bag, then this model is worth consideration. I hope youve enjoyed this video its my pleasure to put these reviews together for everyone. If you find them helpful, then feel free to check out my patreon page, where you can find all kinds of exclusive content and videos and sneak previews for anyone.
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