02nd May 2021, Singapore – Recently we did an article on China Brand lenses and before that, we did a review for the Meike 35mm F1.7 due to my curiosity – what surprised me for Meike’s review was – it turned out to be an excellent lens. As my curiosity for China Brand lenses grew, I managed to convince a photographer (Daphne Kong) to loan me her Laowa 9mm for a weekend. The Laowa 9mm F2.8 Zero-D is currently one of the best selling Laowa brand lenses in Singapore with its averagely-low asking price, super ultra wide angle focal range and the various mounts available.
Available mounts: Fuji X, Sony E, Canon EF-M, DJI DL, MFT, L mount
The Laowa 9mm is a tiny lens – possibly the tiniest Ultra Wide Angle lens in the world. Measuring at (ONLY) 60mm x 53mm & weights like a feather at 215gm, this is one of those lenses that can go missing easily due to its compact and negligible size. Jokes aside, the full metal construction (like most China lenses) of the Laowa 9mm feels solid and during the review, I kinda like the handling, the focusing ring was surprisingly smoother than the previously reviewed Meike 35mm and the aperture ring are firmly “clickable” which was good.
Inside the Laowa 9mm, the optics are arranged in 15 elements in 10 groups – including 02 x aspherical glass, 03 x low dispersion glass (LD) the front element came with “Frog Eye” Coating (FEC) – hope no frogs were harmed.
For focusing, the Laowa 9mm came with 07 standard aperture blades, focus from F2.8 and focuses as close as 12cm (minimum focusing distance). The front takes 49mm filters and the Laowa has a magnification ration of 1: 7.5 (this is amazing for a UWA lens)
The Laowa 9mm comes with a detachable metal hood, and in the retail box, a pouch along some paperwork.
An interesting fact here: If you flipped the Laowa logo, you get the English words “MOVI” or “WON”, not sure if this is intentional or by coincidence, but now, you cannot unsee this.
And so, I took the Laowa 9mm out for a weekend walk with some friends and tried to shoot everything, anything with this lens. Check out the images below (there are more on my FB). We started from Marina Bay Sands’ basement food court Rasapura. The 9mm on my Fuji with a crop factor of x 1.5 which I got a focal length of 13.5mm Ultra Wide – very nice.
The Ultra Wide Angle allows interesting perspectives and framing, the below shot allows me to frame all 4 levels of the mall easily.
Next I wanted to test out the magnification ratio since it was spec-ed at 1:7.5, I am curious if that is true, then my friends alerted me to this lotus/lily flower right outside the Artscience Museum – and there was 2 moths on it. So I took a shot.
then I cropped a little tighter from the red box below.
And I got this. (Below)
I want to push it a little more and I decided to crop more from the red box area below.
And I got the below image after 2 rounds of cropping. (Can you see both the moths?)
The Laowa is NOT a macro lens but the magnification ratio allows the user to crop in to see details but this is highly dependable on the camera that you are using. The Fuji that I am using has 24 megapixels and a decent image size which allows me to crop more than I should. Do take note of this.
Yes, many of you knows I shoot a lot of toys – but shooting with the Laowa 9mm allows me to shoot toys with a very different perspective. Which was the not the usual toy images that I will shoot.
(Below) And of course the minimum focusing distance of 12cm allows me to shoot close to the subject, but with a wider perspective.
I am not too impressed with the bokeh at F2.8 then again this is not a portrait lens. So I am not expecting too much, but the Laowa 9amm does gives you bokeh (as below) but the bokeh looks like those from a mirror-lens. I call it “distorted bokehs”.
As an Ultra Wide Angle lens, the Laowa does its job well covering the focal length, but I do notice some light dropoff on the corners for some of my shots.
In terms of details, I will say not too bad for a lens of this price. But maybe its just me, you have to test for yourself.
Color wise, I will say it will be unfair for me to comment as I switches around the color profiles on my Fuji camera a lot. But being a UWA lens, it certainly performed up to its intended standard.
I find the Laowa 9mm to be useful for “abstract” shots of building structures or non-commercial shots. You can see (below) next 2 examples of what I meant.
Although I was told the “Zero-D” on the lens code means zero distortion, I am sorry to report that the distortion is crazy. Just look at the below example.
The Laowa 9mm may be an Ultra Wide Angle lens. Inexpensive and tiny, a lens that you may consider having it as part of your lens repertoire, not exactly a bad lens – just an usable lens to cover the widest of angles. Image quality is acceptable and the lens distortion is something else. If you really need a UWA lens and do not wish to spend a bomb, then consider the Laowa 9mm.
Buying this Lens
If you are curious and had never owned an Ultra Wide Angle lens in your life, then consider buying this lens from our accredited merchants for a peace of mind!
Renting this Camera – Please check for availability first.
For those of you who wish to try out the camera/ lens before purchase, we are pleased to share that this camera & lens is available for rental at our appointed rental merchant:
Camera Rental Centre is Conveniently Located at:
50 South Bridge Road, CMO Building, (very near to Clarke Quay MRT)
#02-18. Singapore 058682
Reviewer: Chief Editor AL Lee
Chief Editor & Founder of Ourshutterjourney.com Worldwide and Principal Trainer at Ourshutterjourney Photography Academy. AL is a commercial photographer as well as an educator who believes in the art of digital memories. An ambassador of several photography brands, AL is well versed in many camera systems. Someone once told us AL’s man cave looks more like a camera store than a bedroom.