While the Laowa 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 does not have any competitors for the Z mount today, we can still compare it to some lenses, such as the Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G at similar focal lengths.
Laowa 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 vs Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S
Let’s see how the Laowa 10-18mm compares to the Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S at 14mm and 18mm focal lengths:
We can clearly see that the Laowa 10-18mm is no competitor to the Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S, which shows far superior cenbter, mid-frame and corner performance at every aperture.
We see a very similar situation when zoomed to 18mm – the Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S once again shines in every way, demonstrating superb center and even better corner performance than at 14mm. Both lenses are comparable in the center at f/11 (which is diffraction-limited), but not when it comes to extreme corners. That’s where the 14-30mm reigns supreme.
Laowa 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 vs Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G
What about the classic Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G? The 14-24mm f/2.8G is a monster of a lens both size and weight-wise when compared to the Laowa 10-18mm. Here are both lenses compared at 14mm:
As expected, the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G design is optically far superior compared to the Laowa 10-18mm, showing superb sharpness in the center frame, as well as significantly better corners.
When zoomed in to 18mm, the Laowa 10-18mm demonstrates decent wide open performance, but the corners are clearly its weakness. As you can see, the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G is a far better lens in corner sharpness in comparison, especially when stopped down to f/5.6.
Laowa 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 vs Rokinon 14mm f/2.4
We have previously expressed how impressed we were with the performance of the Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 lens, which is arguably one of the best third party lenses out there for astrophotography. Let’s take a look and see how it compares to the Laowa 10-18mm at 14mm:
While both lenses show similar wide open performance, keep in mind that we are comparing f/4.5 vs f/2.4 – the Rokinon shows off how good of a lens it is, even at large apertures. Stopped down to f/4, the Rokinon 14mm f/2.4 blows the Laowa 10-18mm out of the water, showing far better center, mid-frame and corner performance in comparison. The Laowa 10-18mm cannot keep up with the Rokinon at any aperture.
As I have previously pointed out in this review, the Laowa 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 clearly shows compromises in its optical design when its sharpness is measured and compared to other ultra-wide angle lenses at similar focal lengths. Although it might not be fair to compare such a compact and lightweight lens to superb classic and modern lens designs from Nikon, we can conclude that there is a good reason why some lenses are so much bigger, heavier and pricier compared to lenses like the Laowa 10-18mm. We have previously attempted to evaluate a number of ultra-wide angle lenses from third party manufacturers such as Laowa, Irix and Samyang / Rokinon, and found out that they all exhibit similar problems and sample variation issues. The exception was the Rokinon 14mm f/2.4, which impressed us the most among ultra-wide angle prime lenses in terms of its overall performance characteristics, but even that lens is not immune to significant sample variation issues we commonly see on most third party lenses.
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