The Laowa 20mm f/4 Zero-D Shift follows on from the Laowa 15mm f/4.5 Zero-D Shift, lens we’ve already reviewed, with a slightly less extreme angle of view but the same perspective correction capability and affordable price tag. Read our Laowa 20mm f/4 Zero-D Shift review.
A perspective control, or ‘shift’ lens, allows you to prevent converging verticals or horizontal convergence in architectural shots or interiors, by letting you shift the lens up or down relatively to the camera body, or from side to side, to change your view of the scene without having to tilt the camera (which is what causes perspective convergence).
Laowa 20mm f/4 Zero-D Shift key features
The Laowa 20mm f/4 Zero-D Shift is a full frame shift lens with a wide angle of view and a large image circle that allows an 11mm shift in any direction. This means you can capture the full height of a tall building without having to tilt the camera upwards, for example.
Note that this is not a tilt-shift lens. It does not have a tilt mechanism for depth of field control. It is a shift lens only.
It doesn’t just fit full frame cameras – there’s also a Fujifilm GF mount version, which works in the same way, but with a smaller 8mm maximum shift (the GFX sensor uses up more of the lens’s image circle).
The ‘Zero-D’ in the name indicates ‘zero distortion’, an optical configuration that produces little or no visible lens distortion. It consists of 16 elements in 11 groups, with two aspherical elements and 3 ED elements for edge to edge sharpness across its enlarged image circle. Unusually, this lens has a 14-blade aperture mechanism. It can also focus as close as 25cm.
The Laowa 20mm f/4 Zero-D Shift is a ‘dumb’ lens with no electronic communication with the camera body, so it’s manual focus only, and while you can use it in P, A or M modes, you will need to set the aperture on the lens itself. This is hardly a problem for perspective-control photography, which is a pretty steady and methodical process usually carried out on a tripod anyway.