Laowa 20mm f4 Shift: Initial thoughts w images

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nhr5005 Forum Member • Posts: 89
Laowa 20mm f4 Shift: Initial thoughts w images
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Hi All,

I thought I would post some initial thoughts and photos from this new lens. I read the (few) reviews online and decided I'd just have to get it myself to try it out. So, I thought I'd post some photos as-I-go while I'm still in my 30-day return window. I plan to use it primarily for urban environments and architectural photography. My only shift lens comparison is an old Nikon 28mm PC lens I have.

First thoughts: This lens is HEAVY! Definitely not something I'm going to carry around all the time unless I know I'm going to be around buildings! Build quality however is excellent.

Filters: I put a B+W master filter (replacement for the XS pro slim line they used to have) and it doesn't cause any hard vignetting w/ shift left/right/up or down. I didn't try diagonal. It causes a tiny bit of darkening of the top of the frame, esp. w/ portrait shooting & vertical shift, but no hard black edges. That's pretty awesome! I will have to next try it out w/ my 95mm magnetic filters, but I expect no issues.

Apertures (sharpness): my results seem to back up online reviews. I tried the lens out with a "test brick wall." It seems f8 and f11 produce great results for the majority of the image, even fully shifted in the main directions, with myself having a slight preference for f11. If the subject is in the extreme corner of the image, there is a slight improvement there at f16. I rotated the lens 180 degress to try opposite shift and the lens performance is uniform.

Focusing: well dampened, but I had trouble doing this at f4 (wide open) like I would on my 28mm PC. I had better luck focusing (live view on my D750) with the aperture closed down to f8. TBD how this will work at night--this is definitely something I need to try out.

Something else I forgot to do, but will try to go back to the same spot to try: how does the sharpness compare with other 20mm lenses. For me this would be my 20mm 1.8G, or my 18-35 set at 20mm.

I've posted some photos below, saved as jpeg (quality 9) from ACR, with zero post-processing. Hopefully this helps someone else considering this lens.

Focus bottom right window of left "wing" (prior to shift). Full shift up f8.

Focus bottom right window of left "wing" (prior to shift). Full shift up f11.

Focus bottom right window of left "wing" (prior to shift). Full shift up f16.

Focus bottom right window of left "wing" (prior to shift). Full shift up f8.

Focus bottom right window of left "wing" (prior to shift). Full shift up f11.

Focus bottom right window of left "wing" (prior to shift). Full shift up f16.

Further back, same focus point, full shift up f11.

Further back, same focus point, full shift up f16.

 nhr5005's gear list:nhr5005's gear list
Nikon D90 Nikon D750 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm F4G ED VR +5 more
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