Laowa 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D Shift review on Fuji GFX
A lens with XXL performance
Much like the Laowa 12mm F/2.8 Zero-D in its day, the Venus Optics Laowa 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D Shift has had a strong appeal to me since it was announced last year.
So much so that it motivated, beyond its purchase, the acquisition of a Fuji GFX 50R, medium format digital hybrid camera with a grip close to my late Fuji GWS 690 II (analog rangefinder). The test of such a combination has become obvious, in order to evaluate its performance in the field.
Handling and construction of the Laowa 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D Shift
The Laowa 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D Shift is a nice lens. Of 100% metal construction, with a focus ring, a shift ring and a rotation ring, it imposes and gives confidence.
The front lens is domed, requiring great care when the lens cap is removed.
The shift mechanism by ring rotation is innovative compared to the wheels of other tilt-shift lenses, but still ensures precise shift adjustment from 0mm to +/- 11mm.
Laowa 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D Shift review: full-frame performance
Initially, the Laowa 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D Shift is designed for use with full-frame cameras. This test focusing on the performance of this lens on medium format, I offer you a video introduction with the complete test of Christopher Frost with the Canon R5.
This video shows you the optical performance of the Laowa 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D Shift over the entire frame at different apertures, as well as using target charts.
Laowa 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D Shift review: medium format performance
The launch of the Fuji GFX 50S, then the Fuji GFX 50R, made digital medium format more compact, more affordable and more versatile.
The adaptation of lenses originally designed for full-frame sensors has generated real appeal on the Internet: depending on the optical circle of a lens, it can thus cover medium format and be used on the GFX system.
Regarding the Laowa 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D Shift, the optical circle is initially very wide in order to ensure the coverage of a 35mm sensor during shift movements. Its adaptation to the Fuji GFX 50R is therefore possible, and only the maximum shift is impacted: Laowa promises a shift of +/- 8mm without vignetting.
To evaluate the performance of the Laowa 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D Shift on medium format, I adapted it to my Fuji GFX 50R using the EF – GF conversion ring from TECHART. I chose a frame wide enough to be able to decenter the lens as much as possible, and shot one frame per shift at each aperture.
You will find below the images from this test, choose the aperture at which you want to evaluate the performance and position yourself on the corresponding portfolio:
My review of the Laowa 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D Shift on Fuji GFX 50R
Let’s be clear: I rediscovered the pleasure of taking architectural photos with this lens. For more than a year I had been concentrating on projects in infrared photography, and here I am back to my first love.
The definition and dynamic range of the Fuji GFX 50R’s medium format sensor provide images with incredible details, where 15mm turns into 11mm to frame the most imposing buildings. However, I prefer the 6×7 ratio, implying a crop on a 4×3 sensor to find the format of the Mamya RB67. I thus limit the impact of vignetting in the corners, while keeping 45M of useful pixels.
I also favor apertures between F/11 and F/16, in order to obtain the greatest area of sharpness without being too affected by diffraction. Most buildings, through such a focal length, typically require +4mm to +6mm shift. However, I have already been confronted with the need to decenter at +11mm (in portrait framing!) with the pleasant surprise of not suffering from a significant drop in lateral performance.
In short, I am totally convinced once again by Laowa, and this Laowa 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D Shift + Fuji GFX 50R combination is impressive!
If you want to use some of the pictures in this article for illustration or commercial purposes, contact me directly by presenting your needs and the desired types of use. I will get back to you as soon as possible with a suitable commercial offer.