My thoughts on the EF-M Laowa 9mm Zero-D (with samples).

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HaroldC3 Senior Member • Posts: 2,510
My thoughts on the EF-M Laowa 9mm Zero-D (with samples).

I decided to give the Laowa 9mm f2.8 Zero-D lens a shot as there have been times when I want something wider than the 11-22mm lens.  I was able to get the lens new for $450 + tax.  I honestly didn't want to spend that much on a manual focus, non-IS lens but it's the only non-fisheye option this wide except the EF-S Sigma 8-16mm (which is much larger and doesn't allow filters).   I thought about the Canon EF-S 10-18mm lens but the only real advantage over the 11-22mm is the 1mm wider focal length.  It is very affordable as well.  But the Laowa is 2mm wider and has a maximum aperture of f2.8 (so I could use it for some night photography if needed).  Again, no IS and manual focus only but I keep it mostly at one focus setting so far.

Alright, so the lens itself is very well built and TINY!  The Laowa is actually smaller (in both length and diameter) than the 11-22mm which makes it extremely easy to include it in my kit.  It is not weather sealed however (as I found out with my first outing), so keep it covered in harsh weather.  It does have a 49mm filter thread but I haven't tried attaching filters yet.

My first outing with the Laowa was to visit some sand dunes.  When I arrived I found the wind to be blowing pretty hard (10-15mph, gusting to 25mph).  I made the hike to the dunes and initially took shots with the 18-55mm and 11-22mm.  I was hesitant to change lenses in the whipping sand but took the risk and put the Laowa 9mm on my IR converted m5.

You can see from the below image the extreme bottom and peak of the dunes are not in focus.  This was one of my fears (was that I'd have to focus stack images which would slow down my picture taking).  I didn't take my time this day because of the whipping sand so I didn't take out my tripod and take the image properly.

It was after this day that I got sand in the cracks of the lens (where the aperture/focus rings meet the lens) among everything else I brought that day.  I ended up taking my shopvac and car detailing attachments to the lens to suck the sand out.  Thankfully I got most of it out of the cracks of the lens.

My second outing was at a local college.  I had initially wanted to do some A/B testing against the 11-22mm lens but instead just took some images with the Laowa 9mm and called in a day.

And my third outing, today, was on a day trip I took just to go exploring a bit.  Really just trying to get some more samples with the lens today.

Ignore my glove that's showing at the top-right hehe

All of these images have been processed in LR (only the IR image at the top was processed in PS).

All-in-all, the lens performs extremely well.  Sure there is vignetting and the corners aren't perfect but the IQ from the lens is great IMO.  Lines are straight and build quality is really good (all metal lens with metal lens hood).

What don't I like about the lens?  Well several things.

1. The aperture ring is pretty much declicked.  Not all the way but the clicks are so subtle that it might as well be.  Good for video, I don't like it for photos.  It's too easy to change the aperture which makes me double-check it before I take a picture.

2.  The hood does not click into place.  It is somewhat simple to slightly twist the hood and cause some vignetting but I haven't experienced that issue yet.

3.  Perspective distortion is easy to introduce unless you hold the lens perfectly parallel to the ground.

4.  Price.  It's normal price is $499.  I'm still used to more value-oriented lenses for the M-system.  I would not hesitate to pick this lens up had it been $299 ($349 would be pushing it).  Still I bought it for $449 (+ tax) after much debate.

5.  Vignetting is pronounced.  Not a deal-breaker and can be corrected in PP but it's there.

So am I happy with the lens?  I am somewhat happy with it.  It's challenging going from the 11-22mm to the 9mm.  You have to be more conscious of the direction of the sun and your technique.  The quality of the images it products is excellent IMO.  I really like that it's rectilinear (no fisheye effect). I will probably completely warm up once I get some more experience with the lens.  For now, it's easy to throw in my bag and keep it in mind when I find I need to go really wide.

 HaroldC3's gear list:HaroldC3's gear list
Canon EOS M Canon EOS M6 Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM +1 more
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