The Venus Optics 12mm f/2.8 Has Little To No Distortion– And That’s Pretty Amazing

by Bret Hoy1 Comment

It’s not easy to break into the world of camera technology. Every year we see manufacturers come and go even if they’re putting out solid gear. It’s even more difficult to make it as a start-up or small business in lens manufacturing.

Often, buying lenses is like buying cars. We associate quality with brands, instead of the real nitty gritty details. If it doesn’t have a Red Ring or a Blue Zeiss stamp, we think of it differently. And that makes it very difficult for a new business to gain credibility and break in. But Venus Optics, a small Chinese lens manufacturer, is doing just that. And they’re doing it with some amazing wide angle lenses.

A while back we reported on Venus Optics’ mega cool 15mm f/4 Macro Lens, a lens that gave shooters a totally wild and cool look at a very reasonable price. They’re back with a 12mm lens that sounds absolutely amazing.

The Venus Optics 12mm f/2.8 is an absolutely insanely wide lens, but shows little to no distortion. While there are a great number of 12mm f/2.8’s on the market, the lack of distortion means that it can heavily compete with even the big names on the market, like Zeiss with their 12mm f/2.8 Touit.

It will be interesting to see how the reviews are for this lens as the competition will be fairly steep. The price of the lens comes in at $949 which might be a bit high for such a specialty lens, but if they’re able to sustain their claims of little to no distortion, it’s hard to make an argument that it’s not worth the money.

Venus Optics Announces Laowa 12mm f/2.8, the *World’s Widest f/2.8 Lens with Close-to-Zero Distortion

Via Venus Optics Press:

Featuring an ultra-wide 122° Angle of View and weighing only 1.34 pounds, this is also the world’s *fastest 12mm lens for full frame cameras. It is now on Kickstarter.

Anhui China, Jul 30, 2016 – Venus Optics, the camera lenses manufacturer who had previously launched several unique lenses including a Wide Angle Macro Lens & a Smooth Trans Focus Lens, is pround to introduce the world’s widest f/2.8 Lens, Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Lens for full frame cameras.

The new Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Lens features a close-to-zero optical distortion, allowing photographers to take landscape/architecture shots with straight lines retained. Featuring a widest angle of view (122°) ever built with a f/2.8 lens, the Laowa Lens is an ideal lens for a variety types of photography. From landscape, architecture, interior, travel to the most important one, astro photography. The combination of ultra wide-angle and fast aperture makes this lens a perfect tool for creating impressive milky way shots.

The Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Lens is designed for photographers for everyday use and hence the weight and size has been controlled to the minimal. The lens weighs only 1.34 pounds (0.6kg) and has a front diameter of 77mm. Venus Optics also offers a filter holder which is designed to fit 2 pieces of 100mm filters and 1 piece of Circular Polariser.

The lens incorporates with 16 elements in 10 groups optical design, including 3 pieces of Extra-Low Dispersion elements and 2pc of Aspherical Elements. This design not only delivers an outstanding image sharpness and controls the distortion to the minmal, but also controls the chromatic aberration at its lowest level. A floating design is also adopted to ensure a good performance even in the closest focusing distance (0.18cm). The enclosure of the lens is fully made of metal to strengthen its durability. Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E, Sony Alpha and Pentax K mounts are available.

Laowa Magic Shift Converter
Along with the new Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Lens, Venus Optics also announces the Laowa Magic Shift Converter which is able to enlarge the full frame image circle through the 4pcs of elements inside the converter. The enlarged image circle provides sufficient image field for lenses shifting by a maximum of 10mm without vignetting. It will transform the Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Lens (DSLR mount) into a 17mm f/4 Professional Shift Lens with +/- 10mm shift capability for Full-Frame E-mount cameras. It is a perfect tool for professional architectural photography. The principle is explained in below diagram.

How Laowa Magic Shift Converter works

Pricing and Availability
The Laowa 12mm f/2.8 lens will firstly be available for backing via Kickstarter from July 30 (EST Time) onwards. It will then be available for purchase at authorized distributors and resellers from Sept 2016 onwards. The recommended retail price without tax is USD 949.

Kickstarter Link:

The Laowa Filter Holder & Laowa Magic Shift Converter will be available at authorized distributors and resellers from October onwards. The recommended retail price without tax is USD 50 and USD 300 respectively.

* As of July 2016

Laowa 12mm specifications

MTF and Optical Structure (2)




About Us
Anhui ChangGeng Optical Technology Company Limited (Venus Optics) is a new Chinese camera lens manufacturer based in Hefei, Anhui. We currently manufacture and distribute camera lenses under the brand name of ‘Laowa’.

For more information about Anhui ChangGeng Optical Technology Company Limited and our products information, visit

(cover photo credit: snap from Venus Optics)

Bret Hoy

Bret Hoy

Bret Hoy is a filmmaker, photographer and writer based out of St. Louis, Missouri. Mainly focused on documentary and experimental film, he has produced, directed, shot and edited many short films and a few long form works.

He shoots a lot and often.
Bret Hoy


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