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Posts Tagged ‘extreme wide angle’

Brooks Falls, Almaguin Highlands, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 200
f16 @ 0.5 sec

On Friday October the 13th I awoke at 5:00 a.m. to commence driving into Ontario’s Almaguin Highlands situated just north of the town of Huntsville. I was hoping for stunning autumn colour along the Magnetawan River at Brooks Falls, however, that was not to be as there was already some significant leaf fall in the area. Fall colour in Ontario has been a bit odd this year with some areas having stunning colour while other parts of seen dull colours, and some locales have even seen leaf fall without much colour change at all. Perhaps this has to do with our overly wet, cool summer. Nonetheless, I arrived at Brooks Falls and was pleased to see that the river was full and ragging.

My intention for this day’s outing was to explore several waterfalls with the Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero Distortion Lens. When using such an extreme wide angle lens getting the camera into the right position is very critical to success of the image. Strong foreground subjects are a must to grab the viewer’s attention. Often my chosen perspective for each image was not much more than about 12 inches from the rushing water, which added complications in having to deal with water spray and droplets of water hitting the front element of the lens. Before each frame that was captured I would give the lens a wipe with a micro fiber cleaning cloth. Patience and perseverance did result in several frames without water droplets being present.

When I had finished photographing Brooks Falls I ventured south to the Skeleton River in Rosseau, Ontario to a couple of waterfalls that I was certain would still have some nice colour due to the sugar maple trees that line the river banks. Below are the images created at both Skeleton Falls, and Hatchery Falls. Skeleton Falls is a little known waterfall that is accessed by hiking down a very step grade within the forest, while the more popular Hatchery Falls is accessed by a well worn foot path through easy terrain.

Skeleton Falls, Rosseau, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 0.6 sec

What is my most important piece of gear for photographing waterfall imagery? Hip waders. More often than not the best perspective to photograph many waterfalls is from within the river itself. River banks tend be messy environments with distracting elements such as twigs/branches intruding into the scene. By photographing from within the river you can often eliminate or at the very least reduce these distracting elements impact on the scene.

 

Hatchery Falls, Rosseau, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 0.3 sec

 

Hatchery Falls, Rosseau, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 1/4 sec

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Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f11 @ 1/6 sec

 

In the summer of 2016 Venus Optics released the Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D lens, the world’s fastest 12mm lens available for full frame cameras. The Zero D designation stands for zero distortion. Recently I purchased one of these lenses for both commercial and landscape photography. The Laowa 12mm lens is a fully manual lens (exposure and focusing). The Exif data recorded for images created with this lens will show no value for f-stop used or focal length of the lens, but that is by no means a deterrent to using this lens. All metal construction give this lens a “built like a tank” feel. It is also a very small lens and light weight at only 609 grams!

Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f11 @ 1/6 sec

While this is not intended to be a lens review I will mention a few of things I like and dislike about the lens. First of all, light fall off is very acceotable and virtually disappears as the lens is stopped down. Chromatic aberration is also very well controlled and any that does become visible is easily fixed by simply checking the Remove Chromatic Aberration box in ACR. As mentioned the lens is an all metal build and this includes the two lens hoods. Yes I said two lens hoods. The lens has a small built-in lens hood that helps to protect the bulbous front element and there is also a removable petal-style lens hood as well. A disappointing note about the removable lens hood is that it causes slight vignetting. I simply choose to not use the removable lens hood when photographing with this lens, although at some point I will likely modify it so that it can be used with no vignetting.

Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f11 @ 0.3 sec

The front element of this lens has what is called a “Frog Eye Coating” for repelling dust and water. What I have noticed with the coating is that water droplets will bead on the front element and can thus be easily wiped off the lens. I love this feature!

Does the lens live up to the claim of zero distortion? Yes! If the camera is square with the world straight lines will be straight. When you point the camera up or down you will notice that trees will have a tendency to lean in or out depending on the angle at which the camera is pointed, but this common to all wide angle lenses so it is not really a downside to the lens.

Oxtongue River, Dwight, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 1/8 sec

 

Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f11 @ 1/13 sec

As mentioned this lens is a manual focus lens. It also has an excellent hyperfocal scale engraved on the lens barrel that can be reliably used for focusing the lens. I simply compose the scene before, dial in my chosen f-stop, set the hyperfocal distance on the lens barrel, and click the shutter – everything from near to far is in sharp focus. To learn more about hyperfocal distance please click here for an excellent article that explains it in depth and how to apply it to your own photography.

Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River, Muskoka, Ontaro
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 50
f16 @ 1/10 sec

The Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D lens will not accept filters due to the bulbous front element, but there are specialized filter holders available that will permit the use of polarizers and 100mm square or rectangular Graduated ND Filters or ND filters. I am currently awaiting the arrival of the NISI filter holder and will post a review of the functionality of that filter after I have had a chance to¬† put it to use. Today’s images were all created without a polarizing filter. I would normall prefer to photograph waterfalls and rivers with a polarizing filter.

Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f11 @ 1/5 sec

 

Oxtongue River, Dwight, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 0.3 sec

If you are looking for an affordable, extreme wide angle lens for your full frame camera then look no further. The Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D lens will produce razor sharp imagery at a fraction of the cost of the Canon 11-24mm or Sigma 12-24mm lenses and at a fraction of the weight.

Please do click on each of the images to view the larger, sharper versions.

 

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