A Small Cookie With a Wide Bite: We Review the Laowa 10mm f/4 Cookie Lens

The Laowa 10mm f/4 Cookie lens is one of the new offerings from Venus Optics. With an impressive 109.3 degrees field of view, it’s currently the widest rectilinear APS-C lens on the market, so how does it work?

We recently had the opportunity to visit St Kilda, an archipelago 40 miles north of Harris, Scotland. Due to weather conditions, trips are canceled quite frequently, but on this day everything was fine. I chose to take two lenses for the Fujifilm XT-4, the Fujifilm XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR and the new Laowa 10mm f/4 Cookie. Maybe not a good choice, as I didn’t know when we would get this opportunity again, but I thought it would be a good limited time opportunity to try the objective. Did I regret it?

Construction and handling

The first thing I have to say is that this lens is small, and I mean small. Attached to the Fuji, it projects at 25mm and 30mm with the ground cap attached. It’s the most compact lens I’ve ever shot with, and it’s a little weird, but weird in a good way. As this is a fully manual lens, everything you need is on the lens: aperture, depth of field scale and of course the focusing ring, just a few millimeters from the focus ring. opening. The filter thread is 37mm in diameter, so you can see that the size is the big thing about this lens; my car and house keys combined take up more room in my pocket than this lens.

An all-metal chassis gives the lens a solid appearance, and while it’s not weather-sealed, it still feels like it can handle different conditions quite well. Attaching the lens to the camera is the usual easy process, detaching it can be slightly annoying due to its size as you have to stand close to the mount. Never used the focus ring, only 20mm away, although I think I could, as the lens is solid.

Performance

Central sharpness is excellent, with minimal drop from the center to the edges above the apertures. I found it best between f/8 and f/11, then once you hit f/14 the diffraction starts to show up slightly. There is some distortion and softness around the edges, but that’s normal for a 10mm lens, overdone of course the closer you are to your subject, but it can be used creatively.

The Bronica’s image was intentionally shot at f/4, minimum focusing distance, and towards the sun to establish how the lens handled this, and as you can see, it handled it well. Once the sun rose a bit more, there was quite a bit of lens flare recorded, and again, that’s to be expected.Distortion is minimal for a lens of this focal length and the image below, other than the monochrome profile, is uncorrected, which leads me to think it would be a good choice for interior architectural photography and exterior as long as you are a reasonable distance from your nearest subject in the scene.

Vignetting

This is my main complaint about the lens, because I want to control the vignetting in an image and decide if I add a subtle one or none at all. Vignetting is quite pronounced across apertures, although it dissipates to an acceptable level around f/9. Correcting this in post is needed, so maybe Laowa will post a profile for Lightroom. You can see in the images below the amount of vignetting that occurs.

The image above shows the amount of vignetting in good light, with the first image being the raw file and the second only automatically corrected in Lightroom. The images below show the amount of vignetting in flat light, again with only minimal edits in Lightroom.

Fixing the vignetting wasn’t a daunting task: a simple inverted radial filter in Lightroom and some slider tweaks and it was fixed, but as mentioned, I want to get the vignetting under control.

What I liked

  • I like the compact nature of the lens, but maybe a slightly larger barrel would be better. It is a double-edged sword, as the size of the lens is quite charming.
  • Sharpness is excellent for a lens of this size and price.
  • The wide field of vision.
  • Distortion control.

What I did not like

  • Significant vignetting at wider apertures.
  • The size of the lens is so sharp and compact that your hand gets in the way, so you need to rest your hand under the camera to ensure no fingers are caught in the shot due to the field of view.
  • No EXIF ​​data, as there are no electronic connection points.

Conclusion

I liked using the lens, the field of view and the solid construction. To me, it’s a creative and fun lens, sharp with minimal distortion and yet plenty of vignetting, and for that reason I think you should choose your photos carefully if you’re not using vignetting creatively. The lens size is neat and nice to work with, but can be a little awkward if you have big hands like me. I mainly shoot landscapes, so the camera would be mounted on a tripod with my hands out of the way once it was in focus.

Since I’ve photographed other subjects and spent more time using the lens, I still disagree with my thoughts as I had to get creative with vignetting. Did I regret taking him to St Kilda? No, and I felt the limited time with the location forced me to focus more on all aspects of what the lens could do rather than vignetting. The more I use it, the more I use it, especially since it’s portable and easy to take along. You can buy yours here.

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