#1098. Laowaaaaaah fun!!

By Pascal Ollier | Art & Creativity

Mar 11

For those of you who read my very first article on this blog, “some like it wide”, you may remember that it dealt with my special attraction to wide angle lenses.

While I continue to shoot with my esteemed CV 12mm, I have gone one step further and mounted the recent Laowa 9mm rectilinear for Full Frame on my Sony A7 III at the tail end of last year.

MTF charts? Forget it!!

CA, field curvature, distortion, vignetting? Nah!

This lens, for me, is about raw FUN!

Can you say that 3mm could make a big change? Well, when you have a 100mm lens, give or take 3 percent is much ado about nothing. In this instance, we are talking about 25 percent!

Yes, it has a limited opening of F/5,6 and no EXIF data.

Yes, shooting with a 135Β° angle of view is a cumbersome exercise, trying not to take pictures of your very own feet, while wearing a mask fogging up your inescapable spectacles.

No, for most, this is not a walkabout lens, like the fine Zeiss Loxia 25 mm for example.

But, boy, do I enjoy myself taking shots with this lens!

It can turn ordinary buildings into dramatic scenes.

The “have it all in one picture” dream I am striving to have gets even closer.

By being rectilinear, and not a fisheye, despite measuring only 9mm means your pictures may not resemble those of Bozo the Clown, leading you to get bored after a few iterations only.

A single building will look necessarily different when you are able to get that close.

A large square will seem even much larger.

Taking a shot from the ground up allows some powerful perspectives (remember when you started skiing and the teacher told you “bend your knees”, well, there you go again!)

At the same time, you can take regular, “ordinary” pictures in terms of width; someone uninformed may not recognize the fact that you are using an ultra-wide lens.

So yes, in these discombobulated times, when one’s travel is limited, taking this new baby out is something that gives me special pleasure.

This lens helps me get closer to one of my photographic goals: try to make an interesting, eye catching shot out of “nothing”: a sunset, a sandy beach, a lady passing in front of an office building wearing matching Mackintosh, you name it, this lens helps boost my imagination.

The orientation you will give the lens, since it is rectilinear, will have a decisive impact on your output.

If you want something dramatic, put it as close to the ground as possible (“bend your knees!”) and striking it becomes.

Get close, very close, even closer, to the subject, tilt it right up, you’ll love those verticals!

Finally, for some street shooting, this will be just fine.

The only question that keeps nagging me now is: what’s next??

Disclosure: I bought this lens at regular street prices from my usual Brussels camera store PCH.


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  • pascaljappy says:

    Dear Pascal. Thank you for the very fun post!

    Dare I suggest a future one based entirely on very close-up portraits? Our nurturing European laws forbid photographs of people (what sociopathic terrorist would actually … photograph another human being). But, with a 9mm, noone could be recognised. Hence a major loophole in the law. The EU might even implode. Think about it πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    • Pascal Ollier says:

      Dear Pascal (here we go again ^^) interesting idea, indeed. Have the EU implode? Now you’re talkin’! A man on a mission ;-).

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      Have you two Pascals suddenly turned into bolsheviks? You can’t mess with the EU till they finish purging the planet of all the revolting things the big food corporations have been stuffing in our food supply, and restoring healthy nutritious food to the table!

      • Pascal Ollier says:

        Point taken Pete, but if for a start the EU commission was able to organize a decent supply of vaccines that just matches that of the UK, which just left the EU and has a six fold vaccination percentage over said EU, we might not be that adamant…

        • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

          Oh – I see – well our idiot Prime Minister promised we’d be the first nation on earth to get vaccinated, and then he forgot to order any, so it looks like we’re doomed to be the last. Just as well we don’t share your infection & death rates!

          • pascaljappy says:

            Well, he did order some. And then the EU blocked shipments, in a sign of universal friendship. See why we love them so much, now? πŸ˜‰

  • Dallas says:

    Pascal, I love wide, I got the 12mm Laowa, I wasn’t game to go that wide. I use mine mainly to get close and then straighten the buildings. You have given me food for thought shoot and show them as they are.Great images well done. Cheers Dallas

    • Pascal Ollier says:

      Dear Dallas,I hear lots of good things about your shooting with the 12mm Laowa which got quite good reviews. Glad I am not alone in the wide lens fun/fan club. It is different and rewarding exercise in my humble opinion. Thank you for the kind comments. Appreciated as always. Cheers

      • jean-pierre (pete) guaron says:

        I’ve been “sort of” doing it – I picked up a 24mm tilt-shift, and I’ve used it for a number of architectural shots, so that I can get them right “in camera”.

        Of course it’s not as wide as yours or Dallas’ – but for architectural it’s a lot better than a straight 24mm w/angle.

        Your Laowa’s take it all to a completely different plane – wild!

        There’s something funny going on, though. When I was young, even a 35 mm w/angle could produce some really weird distortions. But these modern w/angles are FAR wider than that. And they’re quite capable of taking amazing w/angle shots of buildings etc, with nothing you’d really need to brand as “distortion”

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Hi Pascal – well that was thought provoking – and before I go on, I have a confession to make – I have a couple of Laowa lenses that I’ve bought, along the way – just because they’re “different”, and because I have a deep-seated aversion to “being the same”.

    And now for the confession. I loved the arch. So I’ve tracked it down – the Parc du Cinquantenaire in Bruxelles. And found a glorious B&W shot of it – which I’ve sent via Pascal Jappy, since I don’t know your email addy. //Update by Pascal: the pic is below:””

    Being old – and, perhaps, a little old fashioned, nowadays – for a long while I ALWAYS corrected all the verticals. Then I got sick of it. And decided not to – instead, to consciously adjust them to a tilt which was “satisfying to the eye”.

    While you may claim – and rightly so, perhaps – that yours are extreme “tilts”, they make a point. Not only do they almost eradicate whatever tourists COVID hasn’t already done for, but they make us re-think. Stop. Consider. Appraise these images. Re-appraise our own images. Re-ignite the learning process – just in time to avoid having some smart tongued yuppie say “the person who has ceased to learn has ceased to ‘live’!”

    • Pascal Ollier says:

      Hi Pete, thanks for the confession ^^. And thank you for supporting my claim. You just made my day. Stay safe. Cheers.

  • Lad Sessions says:

    Pascal, I greatly enjoyed these! I found the different slant (pardon the pun) quite refreshing. One suggestion: take your super-wide into the forest. Trees will look quite different, and I think appealingly so, not to mention all manner of vegetation, and likewise forest paths in vertical orientation. More, please!

    • Pascal Ollier says:

      Dear Lad, first and foremost, thank you for your kind comments! You are absolutely right about tree shots, I will do so on my next forest ride. Maybe, if Pascal agrees, I can add a couple of shots if anything interesting crops up. Thanks again!

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    Dear Pascal (here we go again again :D),

    Having fun is a very clever mental health choice these days…

    Then, watching picture after picture, I missed Bruxelles a lot; needed to get back to my birth city in November, but was forbidden due to the pandemic (I still have my Belgian passport, but living in Quebec people at the foreign dept said I would sill be blocked at the airport… administrations drive me crazy).

    Then I noticed something interesting: recently, all the pictures we take and see with those empty streets create that typical sense of “post-apocalyptic strangeness”; the wider the strongest.
    But super wide it becomes so abstract that I don’t have the same feeling… even the 13th one, with the lonely walker, didn’t produce in me the usual reaction.
    I wonder if it is my mental state, or yours, or a side effect of the “otherworldly” perspective…do the others have the same reaction?

    Your 11th picture reminded me of a famous painting, “The Babale’s Tower” from Breughel πŸ™‚

    Stimulating post!

    • Pascal Ollier says:

      Dear Pascal R.
      Thank you for passing comment. Please, should you come to Brussels, let me know.

      I absolutely agree with you about the “post apocalyptic” feeling, which I most felt during our recent trip to Tuscany.

      I had a quick look at the Babel tower, the comparison is quite amusing.


  • Ian Varkevisser says:

    Great sport, I have always been a big fan of using wide angle lenses for street photography too. But 10mm on a crop sensor does not match this madness πŸ™‚

    • Pascal Ollier says:

      Dear Ian, Thank you for your comment, I agree with you, FF does help. Maybe a little of GAS showing up… Take care.

    • Pascal Ravach says:

      I agree, Ian; but I still kept my beloved 7-14F4 Panasonic for my Olympus E-M1… for pure architecture, the lower performances of these sensors leave a lot to be desired, but for less complex subjects, I really like the results…

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