Laowa 12mm F/2.8 W/ Magic Shift Converter Versus Canon TS-E 17mm F/4L

Architectural photography isn't the cheapest genre of photography, mainly due to the fact that tilt-shift lenses are a little expensive. Sure there are cheaper options, however, they generally perform worse and may not be worth it. A company called Venus Optics might just have the solution with their Magic Shift Converter.

At only $300 dollars, this adapter allows you convert essentially any lens into a shift lens making it very useful for architectural photography. The adapter allows you to use your EF mount lenses on Sony E-mount cameras, taking advantage of the shorter flange distance. With the ability to shift up to 10mm, this adapter could be a fantastic option for many aspiring architectural photographers who may not have the budget for expensive tilt-shift lenses.  The adapter doesn't have any electronic contacts so lenses with manual aperture rings will work best, however, there are ways to make other lenses work too.

In my latest video I test the adapter on the 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D lens from Laowa and I must say the results are very impressive. The adapter does crop your lens by approximately 1.4x and you lose one stop of light, making it equivalent to a 17mm f/4. For this reason, I find it very appropriate to compare it to the Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L

What is incredible is the lack of chromatic aberrations in the Laowa combination and how good the actual performance is. Even right to the edge the Laowa lens and adapter are noticeably sharper than the Canon 17mm.  

The Laowa lens does have a slight color cast and leans more into the warmer tones and the Canon is more accurate. This can, of course, be corrected very easily by adjusting the white balance. Laowa is making some very interesting and incredible lenses, and I'm genuinely impressed by the quality and performance of their products.

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Gilbert de Leeuw's picture

Is that flare on the Laowa?

Uwe Neugebauer's picture

yes, as mentioned in the video

Gilbert de Leeuw's picture

I was at work... I only managed to read the article because interent is terrible there.

Usman Dawood's picture

Yes that is a flare but lighting conditions changed. The 17mm also flares a bunch too.

Gilbert de Leeuw's picture

Mighty impressive overall for a lens that does two things better than individual lens priced more!

Edward Porter's picture

Has anyone tried this shift converter on any other lens besides the 12mm?

Usman Dawood's picture

Working on that review.

Uwe Neugebauer's picture

In case anyone is wondering: unlike the 17 TS-E, 24 TS-E or the Rokinon/Samyang 24 T-S the Laowa 12mm/shift converter combination allows no additional extender (e.g. the 2x or 1.4x canon).

Marc Vidal's picture

I've seen several reviews of the Laowa Magic Shift Converter during the past few weeks. But everyone reviews it only with the Laowa 12mm F/2.8.
Did anyone had the curiosity to try it on another lens?
Or did really everyone simply stuck to what is written on the Laowa website "A carefully designed and patented optical system in the adapter converts the Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D to a 17mm f/4 lens with +/- 10mm Shift capability without any vignetting."?
With other lenses, is there vignetting? Is there some focus problem?

Usman Dawood's picture

I’m planning on making a video testing the adapter with a bunch of other lenses.

Davor Ergo's picture

I have the 12mm with the converter and it’s great! I wonder how the 15mm performs with the converter.

Oliver Kmia's picture

Great video! Thanks for making this comparison.

Usman Dawood's picture

Thank you, much appreciated :-).

Jasmin Bataille's picture

So you need a tilt-shift lens for architectural photography? Back in the days of film, when your horizon had to be absolutely perfect otherwise it was gone... yes, you needed them. But nowadays? Hem... no, not at all. You have horizon guide, and you can always get the horizon to it's proper place after the shot. Just my two cents... having said that this look like an excellent product.

Deleted Account's picture

Tilt shifts are more about distortion correction than getting a perfect horizon. Though you are correct, they're not always "needed" since we can digitally correct distortion in post.

Shang-Hsien Yang's picture

Would you recommend getting the MSC to be used with a Sony a9 or a7? Or would you recommend using a basic shift adapter (with no glass in it) on an APS-C a6x00 camera?

I already own an a9, an a7, an a6000, a Fotodiox shift adapter (with no glass in it), and I wonder if the APS-C would provide a sharper image compared to full frame + MSC (which is essentially a 1.4x TC)