Third Party Lenses

Laowa introduces the 20mm f/4 Zero-D shift lens for Canon RF and EF

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Laowa has released the Laowa 20mm f/4 Zero-D Shift lens for both the Canon EF and the Canon RF mount.  This lens has no electronic connections but for a shift lens that is pretty common.

The lens is currently available from Laowa’s website, and it will most likely end up on Adorama and other retailers soon.

When you purchase from Laowa, you are actually purchasing essentially a medium format lens, then choosing your shift mechanism, and then the mount type.  For the RF version, that comes to $1349 – certainly a bargain when it comes to ultra wide shifting lenses.  Keep in mind this lens does not tilt, only shift – but for architecture, that’s usually exactly what you need to do.

From Laowa;

Laowa 20mm f/4 Zero-D Shift is an ultra-wide-angle shift lens that you cannot resist. On top of the high image sharpness and nearly no distortion (Zero-D), the lens also comes with a rotatable lens hood for avoiding flares and protecting the front lens element.

The amount of shift is ±11mm for full-frame cameras and ±8mm for medium format cameras, making it super easy to capture architectural and interior photography in a corrected perspective. Laowa 20mm f/4 Zero-D Shift expands Laowa’s Shift Lens line-up giving you an addition option for distinct needs.

Name Laowa 20mm f/4 Zero-D Shift
Focal length 20mm
Aperture Range f/4 – 22
Coverage of image circle Ø 65mm
Angle of view 94.4°
Lens structure 16 elements in 11 groups
(2 aspherical elements and 3 ED elements)
Filter size 82mm
Aperture blades 14 blades
Maximum magnification 0.17x
Min. Focusing Distance 25cm
In-focus driving mode Manual (MF)
Dimensions About Ø 95mm * 91mm
Weight About 747g
Mount Canon EF & RF / Nikon F & Z / Sony E /
Pentax K / L mount / Fujifilm G

 

Keith Cooper from NorthLight Images is first up with an excellent review of the Laowa shift lens.

If you didn’t already know, Keith is the master of all things tilt and shift, and if you haven’t already you should take a good watch of Keith’s webinar on Canon tilt-shift lenses.  Also, don’t forget to subscribe to Keith’s channel while you are at it.

JasonL

I'm New Here
May 5, 2021
16
34
Can you share images at full shift in both directions? Corners/edges specifically?
 
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melgross

EOS R
Nov 2, 2016
805
586
Keep in mind that all T&S lenses for full frame are essentially medium format. In fact both Canon’s and
Nikon’s T&S lenses years ago, fueled the rumors that both companies were going into the medium format camera business.
 
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tiggy@mac.com

R5
CR Pro
Jan 20, 2014
836
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Thetford, VT
www.camnostic.com
Keith, I didn't see a magnification ratio stated anywhere. Do you have a sense of how macro it is? Laowa is traditionally excellent about that, but this one's MFD seemed a bit further out, especially for a wide angle lens.
 
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bsbeamer

EOS RP
Nov 5, 2011
315
45
Is there any update on the RF patent "issues" preventing 3rd parties from offering autofocus and/or electronic communication? Last time it was discussed, it seemed like this was basically going to delay the more typical third party RF lenses (Tamron, Sigma, etc.) until around 2026 or later.
 

vangelismm

EOS 90D
Jul 28, 2015
169
104
Is there any update on the RF patent "issues" preventing 3rd parties from offering autofocus and/or electronic communication? Last time it was discussed, it seemed like this was basically going to delay the more typical third party RF lenses (Tamron, Sigma, etc.) until around 2026 or later.
Fake news, there is no evidence aside for some user forum that made up this.
 

Jethro

EOS R
CR Pro
Jul 14, 2018
669
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Great review Keith! I always learn something from your videos, and this was no exception.
 
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melgross

EOS R
Nov 2, 2016
805
586
Fake news, there is no evidence aside for some user forum that made up this.
The problem, and it’s real, is that these companies have to reverse engineer all the specs themselves, as neither Canon or Nikon give them out. Sony did because they were starved for lenses for years, while both Canon and Nikon were major lens manufacturers and innovators. Now, Sony can’t simply stop releasing that info, or licensing it, while Canon and Nikon are able to adapt their vast number DSLR lenses easily to the new mounts while quickly coming up with new ones.

at some point, Sony might wish they could close up this opening, if they’re not already regretting it, as these companies make a lot more money from selling lenses than they ever did selling bodies.
 
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Hector1970

EOS R
CR Pro
Mar 22, 2012
1,424
802
Great review Keith, I read your one on the 15mm Shift Lens as well.
I still find your book a great reference point when I use my own TS-E lens.
I am tempted by this lens.
I think the if you composited either end and middle would be around 12mm.
I have a Canon 24mm TS-E II and really like it.
Sometimes its not wide enough when a building is tall and I can't go back far enough.
I've thought about the 17mm TS-E but the bulbous front and the filters solution is just too big.
The Laowa 15mm has the same issue.
I'm tempted by a 20mm where I can use normal filters.
What I couldn't figure from the review is if I have the level how much of a tall building would I get with an upward shift from centre

You discuss sharpness in the review. In other reviews I've read they were a bit cagey about sharpness.
It's hard to say whether they are saying its sharp or not.
I got the impression from your review the sharpness is pretty acceptable. Would I be summising correctly?
 

neuroanatomist

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Jul 21, 2010
27,096
6,503
I've thought about the 17mm TS-E but the bulbous front and the filters solution is just too big.
The Laowa 15mm has the same issue.
I'm tempted by a 20mm where I can use normal filters.
This is where using an EF-mount lens on an R body shines. I have the TS-E 17 (and the salad-plate front filters for it), they are a PITA to carry and use. I also have the EF 11-24 (but not the dinner-plate filters for it). Now that I have an R body with the drop-in filter adapter and both the vND and CPL filters, life is much easier with those bulbous-front lenses.

What I couldn't figure from the review is if I have the level how much of a tall building would I get with an upward shift from centre
I can't speak for a 20mm lens. With the TS-E 17, this shot of the Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours was taken from the plaza across the street. I was about 30 m from the facade of the cathedral, which is just under 70 m tall. Max shift on the lens.

"Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours"
Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours.jpg
EOS 1D X, TS-E 17mm f/4L, 25s, f/8, ISO 800
 
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CanonFanBoy

Planet FUBAR.
CR Pro
Jan 28, 2015
5,718
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A lab in the Ozarks.
Is there any update on the RF patent "issues" preventing 3rd parties from offering autofocus and/or electronic communication? Last time it was discussed, it seemed like this was basically going to delay the more typical third party RF lenses (Tamron, Sigma, etc.) until around 2026 or later.
There is at least one company that offers autofocus on it's lenses. I think it's an engineering issue, not patent.
 

CanonFanBoy

Planet FUBAR.
CR Pro
Jan 28, 2015
5,718
4,151
A lab in the Ozarks.
This is where using an EF-mount lens on an R body shines. I have the TS-E 17 (and the salad-plate front filters for it), they are a PITA to carry and use. I also have the EF 11-24 (but not the dinner-plate filters for it). Now that I have an R body with the drop-in filter adapter and both the vND and CPL filters, life is much easier with those bulbous-front lenses.


I can't speak for a 20mm lens. With the TS-E 17, this shot of the Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours was taken from the plaza across the street. I was about 30 m from the facade of the cathedral, which is just under 70 m tall. Max shift on the lens.

"Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours"
View attachment 202927
EOS 1D X, TS-E 17mm f/4L, 25s, f/8, ISO 800
My gosh. Beautiful!
 

Hector1970

EOS R
CR Pro
Mar 22, 2012
1,424
802
This is where using an EF-mount lens on an R body shines. I have the TS-E 17 (and the salad-plate front filters for it), they are a PITA to carry and use. I also have the EF 11-24 (but not the dinner-plate filters for it). Now that I have an R body with the drop-in filter adapter and both the vND and CPL filters, life is much easier with those bulbous-front lenses.


I can't speak for a 20mm lens. With the TS-E 17, this shot of the Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours was taken from the plaza across the street. I was about 30 m from the facade of the cathedral, which is just under 70 m tall. Max shift on the lens.

"Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours"
View attachment 202927
EOS 1D X, TS-E 17mm f/4L, 25s, f/8, ISO 800
Thanks Neuroanatomist. Yes it is certainly an advantage of mirrorless. . I have the 11-24mm too and its a great lens but I didn't get the required filter system because its huge. I did try plastic filter film in the rear but its messy. I've held onto the lens because at some point I will buy a mirrorless Canon and I'd get that filter adapter. It can give an unusual view in certain scenes. I've got some dramatic looking images with it. The bulbous lens makes me nervous every time I take it out and has put me off the 17 TS-E so far. It's chunky and heavy too.
That image is helpful for me to see what 17mm is capable of shifted. It's a tall building like what I might use it for. The Laowa is tempting in the short term as it will take normal filters.
 

keithcooper

EOS RP
CR Pro
Can you share images at full shift in both directions? Corners/edges specifically?
Higher res images are in the written review
There is no asymetry in the copy I have here. Diagonal shift shows softness at the edge of the image circle
 

keithcooper

EOS RP
CR Pro
Great review Keith, I read your one on the 15mm Shift Lens as well.
I still find your book a great reference point when I use my own TS-E lens.
I am tempted by this lens.
I think the if you composited either end and middle would be around 12mm.
I have a Canon 24mm TS-E II and really like it.
Sometimes its not wide enough when a building is tall and I can't go back far enough.
I've thought about the 17mm TS-E but the bulbous front and the filters solution is just too big.
The Laowa 15mm has the same issue.
I'm tempted by a 20mm where I can use normal filters.
What I couldn't figure from the review is if I have the level how much of a tall building would I get with an upward shift from centre

You discuss sharpness in the review. In other reviews I've read they were a bit cagey about sharpness.
It's hard to say whether they are saying its sharp or not.
I got the impression from your review the sharpness is pretty acceptable. Would I be summising correctly?
The lens (or I should say, the one I have) is sharp enough for me to consider it for real work - there are more examples in the written review.
I've been working a few days (yay!) but will be adding some more example shots to the written review this weekend (one reason I like the written stuff more than videos!)

I did need to drop to f/11 for strong shift (causing howls of pain from those worried about diffraction)
A minor issue might be that I only have a 26MP RP to test it, not my 5Ds

Where I did get some softness, it often turned out to be less than perfect focusing

Filters don't really figure in my work -maybe an ND on my 24, but not of the really wide.
 

keithcooper

EOS RP
CR Pro
One other thing, at the end of the [written] 20mm review, there are 3 comparison shots showing a view of a building with the 15, 17 and 20 at full vertical shift
The 15 and 17 shots are from the 15/17 comparison at the end of my [written] Laowa 15 review