With most wide-angle lenses, distortion is a way of life. Warped edges and a bulging center are often byproducts of a wide field of view, but Venus Optics created its new Laowa 12mm f/2.8 lens with a promise of “close-to-zero” distortion. This full-frame (35mm format) lens will be available in mounts for a variety of popular DSLRs and mirrorless interchangeable-lens compact (ILC) camera systems.
The 12mm lens covers a 122-degree angle of view, which Venus claims makes it the widest rectilinear lens with an f/2.8 maximum aperture. The optical formula includes 16 elements in 10 groups, with three Extra-Low Dispersion elements and two aspherical elements. Despite all that glass, it weighs in at 1.34 pounds.
The lens is currently in Kickstarter mode and you can currently (as of the time of this post) get one for a pre-order price of $899. Once the early-bird deals are over, the price moves up to the retail price of $949. It’s available for Canon EF, Nikon AF, Pentax K, and Sony A and E mounts.
There’s actually a pretty great selection of technical information available on the Kickstarter page, so if you’re curious about how this thing actually works, it’s worth checking out. We’re looking forward to getting a production model in to the Popular Photography Test Lab to see how well it lives up to its claims.