Franco Cogoli

Laowa Ultra-Wide Zero-D 17mm f4


Although, as a travel photographer, I shoot seventy percent of my photos with the same excellent lens, the Fuji 32-64 f4, I naturally need a set of lenses that allow me to cope with various types of assignments.
One of the most particular and useful is the Laowa Ultra Wide Zero-D 17mm f4; it is always in my bag and allows me to solve quite "impossible" situations. From a stylistic point of view, you may not like it, so elongated and in the shape of a trumpet, but it is a distortion-free super wide angle and has a corresponding focal length on a full frame format of 13.5mm, which makes it the most pushed lens for the Fuji GFX system;
it is a block of metal and glass, built in a very precise way, heavy and totally manual, without automatisms and does not transmit the diaphragm, thus resulting a bit uncomfortable and slow to use, and even in post-production it is annoying not to be able to see the data relating to the diaphragm used.
The focusing, although ensured by the gigantic depth of field typical of these lenses, is not easy, because the image in the electronic viewfinder is a little obscured.
But, paying attention to the point, this lens is truly sensational and, in addition to being perfect for shooting narrow environments or spectacular landscapes, it is essential in certain areas of architectural photography.
The optical quality is excellent, although it does not reach the level of micro-detail of the original optics, but, what counts most on a lens of this type, it is almost free from deformation and vignetting.
It is rather prone to reflections in case of strong backlighting (the only real flaw, according to myself) while the rendering of the light points at night is very pleasant, with a ten-pointed star effect.

In the example below, commissioned for the monthly Bell'Italia, it was a question of shooting the entire vault of the ceiling of the historic library of the Abbey of Praglia, in the Euganean Hills, completely covered with paintings by Giovanni Battista Zelotti.
The task seemed quite difficult, given the size of the room, instead two shots were enough, then joined automatically via Lightroom, without performing any perspective correction


Paradoxically, another case in which this type of optics are useful is confined spaces; in the photo below, which shows two brothers butchers in their shop in Maremma, the spaces were so compressed that, with a normal 24mm wide-angle lens, the photo would not have been possible - Photo taken at 1600 ISO, aperture f11 and 0.3 seconds of exposure


The most difficult use for this type of objectives are landscapes, because the main subject tends to shrink a lot and therefore it is necessary to pay close attention to composition and light.
The photo below, which shows the Maremma village of Monteverdi Marittimo, is pleasant only for the quality of the light and for the presence of an "important" sky - without these two elements the photo would have been discarded;
this can be verified by simply trying to cover the sky with your hand, you can see that the photo immediately loses much of the effect


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