A few months ago, I tested the Laowa 17mm f/4 Ultra-Wide GFX Zero-D with my FUJIFILM GFX 50R and with the FUJIFILM GFX 100, a medium and large digital format camera.
While I tested my X series camera a long time ago with a third party fisheye lens, it was my first time using a lens from a third party with my FUJIFILM GFX 50R.
As mentioned in the lens model name, the ” Laowa 17mm f/4 Ultra-Wide GFX Zero-D ” is the ” World’s Widest Native Lens for Fujifilm GFX “.
Due to the crop factor of the medium format-sized sensor of GFX cameras of X 0.79, the Laowa 17mm angle of view is equivalent to a 13mm lens on a 35mm format sensor. For use on all of the GF cameras, there is almost a 20% decrease.
The widest lens that FUJIFILM makes for the GFX is the FUJINON GF 23mm f/4 R LM WR, which is equivalent to an 18mm lens on a 35 format sensor.
Build quality, look and feel of the Laowa 17mm
The Laowa 17mm f/4 has an all-metal barrel build, which makes it premium to hold and adjust. It is fully black with a tiny blue ring at the edge of the lens, which looks very sleek and stylish.
The build of the Laowa 17mm f/4 is pretty solid and sturdy. It weighs 829g, which is heavy, just like most of the FUJINON GF lenses. This makes it ideal for getting the correct balance with the camera. It does balance a bit better with the GFX 100.
Overall, I enjoy the feeling of the metal and the shape of the lens.
Characteristics of the Laowa 17mm f/4 Ultra-Wide GFX Zero-D
The lens offers a 113º wide-angle view, which is extraordinary for landscape, interior, architecture, and astrophotography photography. In comparison, the angle view of the FUJIFILM GF 23mm is 99.9°. It is not often I need to go that wide for interior photography services, only sometimes with my GF 32-64mm.
The lens does not contain any form of electronic parts in it, so it is a fully manual lens.
It is easy to focus thanks to the excellent ring finishes. The 180º degree turns cycle from infinity to close focus, which feels smooth and natural on the hands.
The aperture for the Laowa 17mm f/4 ranges from f/4 to f/32, which is a huge range to work with. The minimum focusing distance is from 20 cm, allowing me to take incredible and very close-up shots.
Important note: To use the lens with one of the three GFX cameras, it is important to go to the setting of your camera and select ‘shooting without a lens’.
Laowa is also well known for making ‘Zero-D’ lenses, what does that mean? Zero distortion! With this lens, there is a close-to-zero optical distortion.
The feature makes it perfect for architecture and interior photographers to get straight lines right. I know of a few photographers in Singapore who really enjoy the various Zero-D lenses.
The image quality of the Laowa 17mm with the FUJIFILM GFX camera bodies
This section is the most important. I have used the lens for two commercial works and a few fun scenery shots in Singapore, around my studio COCO Creative Studio in the East Cost. The quality of the image delivered is good.
When I paired the lens with the FUJIFILM GFX 50R body, the zoomed-in image is softer compared to the FUJINON GF 23mm. Likewise, when I used the Laowa 17mm f/4 lens with the FUJIFILM GFX 100, the images produced are good. Some images, we can see a bit of vignetting.
Since I use a 31.5-inch big screen monitor, the BenQ SW320, that has an impressive resolution of 3840 x 2160 UHD, I am able to see every detail when I zoom in on the images. If you do not zoom in the image with such a high-resolution screen, the images will still be exceptional. Anyway, since most of my interior photography services clients will use the images online, they will usually work with decreased file resolution and size.
My conclusion with the Laowa 17mm f/4 Ultra-Wide GFX Zero-D
The Laowa 17mm f/4 lens has been a perfect companion. The build quality is excellent and feels good on the hand. The image quality is also not compromised.
I wish I could have used it more often and in various situations while I was testing it, but I had been too busy with multiple commercial photoshoots and projects.
Before receiving the Laowa 17mm f/4, I photographed a location in India, Alila Fort Bishangarh – It is a beautiful resort in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The fort has been converted into a resort, so this lens would have been the perfect tool for some of the rooms and tight spaces.
If you ask me to choose whether the FUJIFILM GF 23mm or the Laowa 17mm f/4 Ultra-Wide GFX Zero-D is better, I will answer they are different and they are complementary.
The FUJIFILM GF 23mm fits me well for my travel documentary due to its autofocus function, but the price is higher (around US$2,599).
Laowa 17mm f/4 provides the widest angle, is manual, and more affordable (US$1,199.00), so it is perfect for interior photography, cityscape, and landscape photography and product beautiful images.
I have returned the lens, but when the opportunity comes for this need in the future, I will definitely consider purchasing it.
Thanks to Venus Optics!
For more information or to purchase the Laowa 17mm f/4 Ultra-Wide GFX Zero-D, please visit the website:
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