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Wide angle lens portraits

With the Laowa 19mm f/2.8 Zero-D GFX


I am enjoying these wide-angle lenses again! Fujifilm released the GF 20-35mm f/4 R WR zoom lens last year, but I still feel there is some work to do in that department. The lineup needs more options and fast lenses… Or maybe I am the only one? But what about third-party lenses? How good are they? When I was asked to test the Laowa 19mm f/2.8 Zero-D, I jumped on the occasion. Let's see how it performs.



I went back to my roots the past Year (in a way). Using wide angle lenses a bit more in my work, like I used to. I still see very few people embracing the weirdness of these lenses for portraits. I believe they offer other creative options, and if like me your locations play a big part in your work, then shooting with these is a must.


Fujifilm is still developing its GFX line, and we are still waiting for more options on the wide-angle side. We also wish they made more fast lenses and special lenses like the announced Tilt-shift lens that hopefully will show up this year. Laowa didn’t wait to propose a series of lenses to fill that empty spot. One of their latest fast wide-angle lenses is the Laowa 19mm f/2.8 Zero-D.



It’s small in its class, only weighs 546g, and has a minimum focus distance of 18cm. This is very important for me, as I love getting close to my models with these lenses. It has an angle of view of 110° with close-to-zero distortion. And with its 77mm filter thread, it shouldn't be hard to use filters.


Now that I have the GF 20-35mm f/4 R WR (picture on the right down below) from Fuji, how does the 19mm compare to the 20mm on Fuji’s zoom lens? Is there a difference? As you might expect, not really.



So this will not be the lens's strong point. Some will pass on this 19mm because it’s manual focus only. This will depend on your shooting style, type of work, and so on. I do focus manually from time to time, so this is not a deal breaker for me.



So if we forget about the lens's size and weight, what makes this lens stand out is its ability to open at f/2.8, the overall build quality, and its price. If you often need more light, or if your style requires a better out-of-focus background then you don’t have much choice at the moment. Nothing comes close to this lens, especially at this price.


Clara P. (Toulouse - France)

Fujifilm GFX100s + Laowa 19mm f/2.8 Zero-D

1/200sec f/2.8 ISO 50



You can include so much with this lens. It almost gives an Epic feel to any location. The exaggerated perspective makes it hard to use for portraits. It will take you some time to get used to the look and feel of the images you will produce with this lens.


Clara P. (Toulouse - France)

Fujifilm GFX100s + Laowa 19mm f/2.8 Zero-D

1/250sec f/2.8 ISO 50



Clara already has long legs. Shooting at a low angle will make them even longer. Something to keep in mind if you photograph somebody that wants to appear taller with longer legs.


Clara P. (Toulouse - France)

Fujifilm GFX100s + Laowa 19mm f/2.8 Zero-D

1/250sec f/2.8 ISO 50



For close portraits (not too close) you will have to be careful not to have your model too close to the edges. The lool is already surreal, so unless you want to cross that line even further and have Alien-like body proportions, then keep your subject centered.

Tiare Maeva (Toulouse - France)

Fujifilm GFX100s + Laowa 19mm f/2.8 Zero-D

1/320sec f/2.8 ISO 50



I love mixing architecture with portraits, lines, and shapes can greatly help you compose your images. The 19mm f/2.8 Zero-D also reinforces that sense of proximity. If you are tired of using 50mm, 85mm, or 135mm lenses for your portraits (full frame), try to go "wide", from time to time, it might open doors to new ideas.


Tiare Maeva (Toulouse - France)

Fujifilm GFX100s + Laowa 19mm f/2.8 Zero-D

1/160sec f/2.8 ISO 50



I mainly worked with a tripod, I find it speeds up my process for these types of images. I wanted to use natural light for these two sessions, but ended up using a flash. I brought with me the Godox AD300 pro and a 65cm softbox.


Tiare Maeva (Toulouse - France)

Fujifilm GFX100s + Laowa 19mm f/2.8 Zero-D

1/125sec f/2.8 ISO 50



Tiare Maeva (Toulouse - France)

Fujifilm GFX100s + Laowa 19mm f/2.8 Zero-D

1/100sec f/2.8 ISO 50



Unfortunately, I couldn’t test it indoors, I had a horrible start this year, I was ill almost all of January. Multiple shoots and projects were postponed, and I couldn’t test the lens further.


Image wise we are losing a bit of sharpness wide open, and some Chromatic aberration and fringing are visible. These artifacts reduce as you close down, but aren’t too distracting overall unless you really zoom in on your images.


Other than that, my first impressions are really positive... Let's not forget that this lens is under 1400 euros at the time of this video which is affordable for a lens like that. I love what Laowa is doing for photographers and filmmakers at the moment, you should check out their website. For any indie productions and small projects, they might have a solution for you.

I cannot wait to see what they will come up with next, I will surely keep an eye on them.


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