Laowa 20mm F/4 Zero-D Shift review on Fuji GFX

New masterstroke for Laowa!

Laowa is a brand full of (good) surprises. And yet, I’m not one to be surprised. But when the Chinese brand, already known for its 12mm F/2.8 Zero-D and its 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D Shift announced the arrival of a new shift lens, my level of hype reached new heights!

Having been able to negotiate the loan of one copy, I decided to test it on my Fuji GFX 50R, medium format digital camera. You will find following this article a detailed test of the performance and handling of the Laowa 20mm F/4 Zero-D Shift on Fuji GFX.

Handling and construction of the Laowa 20mm F/4 Zero-D Shift

Like its big brother the 15mm F/4.5, the Laowa 20mm F/4 Zero-D Shift is a very nice lens, solid and well built.

Using the comparable 100% metal model, with a focusing ring, a decentring ring and a rotation ring, it also benefits from a more discreet front element and a thread for screwing on 82mm diameter filters.

The shift mechanism by ring rotation retains its innovation compared to the wheels of other tilt-shift lenses, always ensuring precise adjustment of the shift from 0mm to +/- 11mm.

The Laowa 20mm F/4 Zero-D Shift is now available in native GF mount, and can therefore be used without a special adapter on Fuji’s GFX references of cameras.

Finally, the internal moving parts are always covered with a thin, black foam to prevent wear and friction. If you were used to the comfort of use of the Laowa 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D Shift, you will not be lost with this new 20mm.

Laowa 20mm F/4 Zero-D Shift review: full-frame performance

Just like the Laowa 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D Shift, this new Laowa 20mm F/4 is initially designed for use with full-frame cameras.

As always, Christopher Frost took very good care of the Laowa 20mm F/4 Zero-D Shift review on a full-frame camera. I invite you to watch this video where you will discover its optical performance on the whole image at different apertures, as well as using targets.

Laowa 20mm F/4 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 in particular 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 20mm F/4 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 20mm F/4 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 wide urban panorama so that the whole image contains elements of interest.

Below are the images from this test. No retouching has been made, nor lens correction. Choose the aperture at which you want to evaluate the performance and position yourself on the corresponding portfolio:

My review of the Laowa 20mm F/4 Zero-D Shift on Fuji GFX 50R

Less extreme than the 15mm F/4.5 Shift, the new Laowa 20mm F/4 Zero-D Shift delivers high-level performance on Fuji’s medium format. The edges are well detailed, the vignetting is moderate from F/5.6 and above all the decentering limit of +/-8mm announced by Laowa can be extended without risk to +/-11mm in landscape framing.

I really enjoyed using this lens during my last session at LaDefense district, and my compositions were more immediate.

So, between the 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D Shift and the 20mm F/4 Zero-D Shift, which one to choose? If your budget allows, both have their place in your camera bag, whether you are an amateur photographer or an architecture and real estate professional. If you had to choose only one of the two, I would recommend this 20mm F/4 Shift: the viewing angle is equivalent to a 16mm on full-frame camera, the resolution delivered is very satisfactory, the possibility of screwing on a polarizing filter is a non-negligible plus.

In conclusion, another masterstroke from Laowa with this ideal shift lens for Fuji’s medium-format cameras.

To go further

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