Introducing the Laowa 10mm f/4 Pancake: The Smallest Wide Angle Lens Ever?

At 175 g and the width of a human thumb, the Laowa 10mm f/4 pancake lens is seriously compact and light. But can something so small still deliver the kind of results you need from an ultrawide lens?

When I first saw the new Laowa 10mm f/4 pancake lens being held in a photographer's hands, I couldn't quite grasp how small it was for a wide angle lens. Comparing it with all the wide angle lenses I have owned and used over the years, it really is insanely small. However, one thing to note is that while it is a 10mm lens by name, it is not a 10mm lens by nature, because it is designed for mirrorless APS-C format cameras, meaning it is effectively a 15-16mm lens. If you try to use the Laowa 10mm lens on a full frame camera, you will get the typical black vignette around the edges of your frame.

Be that as it may, in this great video brought to you by Dave McKeegan, he runs the Laowa 10mm f/4 lens through its paces, and I must say, despite a few shortcomings, it looks like a lens that will keep numerous types of photographers happy. Its lightweight nature would make it great as an architectural walkaround lens or for cityscape photographers, while its ultra-wide nature obviously lends itself to landscape photographers who might want to travel light on a day trip. McKeegan does bring to light some design flaws with the lens that you should be aware of, so please give the video a watch and let me know in the comments below if you'd be tempted by this lens or not.

Iain Stanley's picture

Iain Stanley is an Associate Professor teaching photography and composition in Japan. Fstoppers is where he writes about photography, but he's also a 5x Top Writer on Medium, where he writes about his expat (mis)adventures in Japan and other things not related to photography. To view his writing, click the link above.

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