Sony shooters have plenty of great glass to choose from. Not only is there a growing selection of Sony native lenses, but Metabones adapters have made it possible to use most Canon and Nikon lenses as well.
But Venus Optics are making things very interesting by manufacturing new lenses that aren’t just duplications of already-available lenses. Their Laowa line of lenses are turning heads, especially their crowdfunded macro probe lens. And now they’ve announced the Laowa 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 FE, which is effectively the widest rectilinear lens you can use on a full frame Sony E-mount camera.
Laowa 10-18mm overview
The Venus Optics Laowa 10-18mm lens is small and lightweight, weighing only 1.1 pounds, which makes it attractive for traveling and landscape photographers who are always pushing to keeping their gear weight as low as possible for long treks, whether that’s in nature or around a city. The lens has a 130 degree angle of view at 10mm, which makes city architecture and vast landscapes a perfect fit for the ultra wide view.
For adding filters, Venus Optics has built a couple interesting options on the 10-18mm. First, there’s a filter thread on the back of the lens, so you can place any 37mm filter at the rear, rather than worry about trying to cover the front of an ultra-wide field of view. For simple ND or UV filters, that’s a very smart feature and we think rear filter threads should come standard on all ultra wide lenses.
For the front of the lens, there’s also a new 100mm filter holder system that is large enough to cover the 10-18mm without any vignetting. That’s not as convenient for traveling photo or video shooters, but it does provide a solution for shooters who have the time to setup and capture a shot deliberately, such as architecture and timelapse photographers.
For video producers, the 10-18mm has a switch that enables you to turn the lens into a clickless aperture. This feature will make it handy for video shooters using it on a solid gimbal like the DJI Ronin-S, which doesn’t jitter or shake even if you touch the camera. You’ll be able to land a shot from indoors to outdoors (or back) while keeping one hand on the aperture wheel, and the other holding the gimbal.
As for lens construction, the Laowa 10-18mm has 14 elements in 10 groups, with two aspherical elements and one extra-low dispersion element. It has a minimum focusing distance of 6 inches. There’s a 10-point star pattern which you’ll see when you point the lens at the sun or a light source, along with stopped down aperture. While this is an interesting feature with the sunlight, we can see how it would also be a little distracting when there are multiple light sources.
Venus Optics has created a very attractive lens and we can see many Sony full-frame mirrorless shooters picking one up to add to their arsenal. You can find more information about the lens and its availability here.