Laowa launches affordable ultra-wide zoom for full-frame mirrorless cameras

Laowa 12-24mm f/5.6 Zoom
(Image credit: Venus Optics)

Venus Optics has launched a new wide-angle lens under its Laowa brand. We've become used to new lenses from Laowa being incredible macro probe lenses, or ultra-fast prime optics, but this new 12-24mm f/5.6 Zoom is different again. This time Laowa's aim was to produce a compact and affordable ultra-wide zoom for full-frame mirrorless cameras.

(Image credit: Venus Optics)

With a diameter of 69.4mm and an 84mm length, the new lens certainly ticks the compact box, and it's also lightweight for a full-frame ultrawide zoom, at just 497g. Part of the reason for this compactness is the relatively slow f/5.6 maximum aperture, though this does stay constant throughout the zoom range. As with many other Laowa lenses, this is also a fully manual lens with no electronic contacts.

(Image credit: Venus Optics)

Inside, the 15-element, 11-group optical stack incorporates 2 aspherical elements and 3 ED elements, while a water and dust repelling "Frog-Eye" Coating (FEC) gives the front element some weather protection. A 5-blade diaphragm is unlikely to produce the smoothest bokeh, but it should produce distinctive 10-point sunstars, and it helps keep the overall cost down. Furthermore, a lens this wide with a relatively narrow max aperture is unlikely to produce a shallow depth of field, so bokeh quality isn't of great concern. An unusually short 15cm minimum focus distance gives potential for close-up shots, adding to the lens's typical interiors and landscape applications.

(Image credit: Venus Optics)

The Laowa 12-24mm f/5.6 Zoom is available for Canon RF, Nikon Z, Sony E and Leica M mounts. The Canon, Nikon and Sony versions will cost USD $649, while the Leica edition is $699. We’re currently testing a review sample of this lens and will bring you our full verdict soon.

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Ben Andrews

Ben is the Imaging Labs manager, responsible for all the testing on Digital Camera World and across the entire photography portfolio at Future. Whether he's in the lab testing the sharpness of new lenses, the resolution of the latest image sensors, the zoom range of monster bridge cameras or even the latest camera phones, Ben is our go-to guy for technical insight. He's also the team's man-at-arms when it comes to camera bags, filters, memory cards, and all manner of camera accessories – his lab is a bit like the Batcave of photography! With years of experience trialling and testing kit, he's a human encyclopedia of benchmarks when it comes to recommending the best buys.