Laowa 10mm f/2 Firmware Fault

Variable

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Agreed, the distortion can appear very subtle, depending on the previously-mounted lens. If your subject isn't rectilinear, or if you didn't expect "Zero Distortion" you might not notice it. A youtube reviewer actually flagged the issue, but just assumed it was how the lens behaved, and isn't bothered by it.

In my case, the whole reason for buying this lens was for its rectilinear presentation, so I didn't have to shoot with a fisheye lens, go to a computer, import, de-fish, export as jpeg, and then post to social media. I need the ooc jpeg output to be correct, or its utility for me is limited. Also, now that @Florian2 has posted videos with the pincushion, that behaviour too would have been problematic.

Nice shots, btw. I can see why you're not too fussed!
 

Variable

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@Florian2 thank you for your posts. The first frame of each video seems to show:

1. Mounted after the Panasonic 20mm, the Laowa 10mm renders video with pincushion distortion.
2. Mounted after the Sigma 60mm/2.8, the Laowa 10mm renders video without pincushion distortion.

So it appears that both video and jpeg output are impacted by the firmware issue.

Can you please report your video codec and settings?
 

Florian2

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@Variable Yes, I am sorry for not being very clear in the first place. The first video was taken with the Laowa 10mm after the Panasonic 20mm/1.7 was attached to the GX9 (and taken a picture with), the second with the Laowa 10mm after the Sigma 60mm/2.8. And, as you say, the difference in distortion is similar to the difference with jpeg files.

In my opinion the whole sequence of frames shows the difference in distortion. Just look at the vertical line in the corner that in the first video bends right when being in the right half of the frame and bends left when being in the left half.

I was using MP4, FHD, 30p.

By the way, the problem with the false correction profiles applied to the pictures is not only the distortion. The "correction" also cuts into the picture, that is takes away some of it around the edges. I have tested the lens against the Zeiss 12mm/2.8 on a Fuji X-T3 and, interestingly for me, it shows a similar view angle (just slightly smaller, but higher, and similiar quality) . For me that came as a surprise as in FF terms we are used to consider the Zeiss behaving like a 18mm lens, whreas the Laowa as a 20mm lens.
 
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Florian2

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And, just to add clarity, this how the Laowa lens behaves after the very old Lumix 14-45mm/3.5-5.6. And in fact the Laowa itself seems to have very small barrel distortion that for me would not matter at all. https://flic.kr/p/2m3NJg7
 
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Florian2

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The Olympus 1,8/25 should be a good match for this lens. Very little correction of the distortion. Even better the Olympus 1,2/25
 

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Variable

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Laowa released an "Auto Aperture" version of the 7.5mm f/2. It would be interesting to find out if Laowa may have used the lens correction profile function that gave them trouble on this lens, in order to correct for that lens' barrel distortion in video and ooc jpegs. Hard to know without a direct comparison.

At the very least I really hope Laowa's experience on the 10mm informed the firmware for the 7.5mm, and there are not similar irregularities for the revamped 7.5mm.

I was really surprised to hear Red35's review of the new 7.5mm. He actually points out that lenses can have compatibility issues, and predicts user-side firmware updates will become available (@08:00). That topic hasn't made it into many 3rd party lens reviews lately. Hmm.

There's also Matti Sulanto's review of the new Auto Aperture 7.5mm? It's just to point out that he doesn't mention any functional trouble at all. So that bodes well, right? He does flag the barrel distortion, though, so maybe lens profile data isn't used for correction.
 
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Florian2

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Laowa released an "Auto Aperture" version of the 7.5mm f/2. It would be interesting to find out if Laowa may have used the lens correction profile function that gave them trouble on this lens, in order to correct for that lens' barrel distortion in video and ooc jpegs. Hard to know without a direct comparison.

At the very least I really hope Laowa's experience on the 10mm informed the firmware for the 7.5mm, and there are not similar irregularities for the revamped 7.5mm.

I was really surprised to hear Red35's review of the new 7.5mm. He actually points out that lenses can have compatibility issues, and predicts user-side firmware updates will become available (@08:00). That topic hasn't made it into many 3rd party lens reviews lately. Hmm.

There's also Matti Sulanto's review of the new Auto Aperture 7.5mm? It's just to point out that he doesn't mention any functional trouble at all. So that bodes well, right? He does flag the barrel distortion, though, so maybe lens profile data isn't used for correction.
Yes, R35 remarks sound promising. Maybe he has heard something from Laowa that there will be firmware updates soon? Would be great. Or was he just appealing to Laowa?

I do not understand your comment on Matti Sulanto's review and the barrel distortion he mentions. With my Laowa 10mm/f2.0 it is not the Laowa lens profile data that is used for correction, either. It is the profile data of a previously mounted lens. We do not know which lens Matti Sulanto had mounted right before the Laowa - maybe a lens that communicates with the camera but has no or very little correction (like Sigma 60/f2.8 or Olympus 25/f1.2 or Olympus 60mm/f2.8). Or maybe he shoots in RAW only. It is even possible (but not very likely) that the slight barrel distortion that he notices may be the result of the correction of a previously mounted lens (if there is a m43 lens with a slight pincushion distortion). We would need more information from him to draw any conclusions.
 
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Variable

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@Florian2 - Sorry I jumbled some ideas together. You're right, it's not conclusive that the issue isn't present, but at least it wasn't obviously wrong. As for the barrel distortion, it's native to the lens (it's not a "Zero-D" lens), and the barrel distortion is well documented in reviews of the fully manual version.

All I meant is that there is a lens profile data value that can be used by the camera to make corrections to the jpeg and video output, but is not in Laowa's implementation.

Red35's comments were very interesting, sounding a bit like he was warning of potential trouble, but also implying that Laowa has an update scheme in the works.

I messaged Matti to ask if he still has his sample and can check it for the distortion issue. But he may have used the same unit as Peter Forsgard (who also reviewed it), and Peter's footage was from April, so I doubt Matti still has the lens in hand. We'll see if he replies; he has in the past.

On the positive side, none of the several youtube new version 7.5mm reviews I watched flag unexpected distortion problems, or mention particular firmware issues.
 

Florian2

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@Variable Great, that you contacted Matti Sulanto! I am very curious about his answer. If he just had known about the problem before he made the video. With him including some remarks would have put pressure on Laowa to fix the issue with the 10mm/f2.0. To be honest, I am a little torn when I see that others do not have a problem with their Laowa lens. Good for them, of course, and good, that maybe Laowa has learned their lesson. But if we with our malfunctioning lenses remain a minority, Laowa might not prioritize the development of the firmware upgrade through SD card.
 

Dogbert62

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Looks like this guy has a distortion issue the first time he tested the lens in the autumn. He worked with Laowa and got a “fixed” copy.. He talks about it at the 1 minute mark


regards
Dogbert62
 

Variable

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@Dogbert62 Right, that's Michael Wedell. I commented on this video, and added his replies to the original post.

"Michael Widell had the same pincushion issue on his sample in fall of 2020, mounted on G9, GM3, and GM1. This is shown at 1:12 of his review. That unit SN was 000008."

@Florian2 Laowa's FB replies to you were the only public acknowledgement of the issue from Laowa that I've seen, besides this thread. Laowa's silence and your concerns are exactly why I just returned the lens, and am holding out for something better.
 

Florian2

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Or, you could enjoy this lens on an Olympus body, which does not appear to manifest this problem — regardless of whom you believe is responsible.
That is not true. I have tested it on an old Olympus PM1 and the problem is the same. But there are some lenses, especially by Olympus, that have better optical correction - meaning the software does not need to correct and therefore the Laowa mounted after them won't suffer from it.

To @Variable: I do not see anything better right now. The lens is small, light, well built, very pleasant to focus, pefectly sharp and optically corrected.
 

Dogbert62

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A couple questions for Variable and Florian2..
Do you see the distortion in the viewfinder or only on stored file? (Just wondering when the correction file is applied)
Have you tried a RAW editor that allows you to turn off it he correction file?.

I have not seen this issue with my Oly 5.3 but I have not exhaustively tested it. I may go through more testing just to feel confident that it won’t rear its ugly head in the field.. it would be easier to go through the motions if the distortion is seen in the viewfinder or on the rear monitor.. if I see the issue, I will attempt to find a work-

one thing that doesn’t make sense is a power cycle doesn’t seem to fix the problem…

regards
Dogbert62
 

Florian2

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@Dogbert62 Yes, the distortion is clearly visible through the view finder as well. And for the RAW converters: Lightroom applies the wrong correction profile automatically and proudly informs you about it. I have not found a way to turn it of - because there is no way as I later learned from the internet. Now I am using DxO PureRAW first, it does not apply the correction profile (and btw makes your pictures much cleaner). DxO Photolab does not do it, either (I have tested the trial version). So if someone is just shooting RAW, does not do video and uses DxO - she or he has no idea what we are talking about here. In other words the wrong correction profile is not applied to the RAW data, it is just stored along with the RAW data.

I am not too surprised, that a power cycle does not reset the lens profile. A lot of things inside the body remain even when you take the battery out, individually asigned function buttons for example.

Could you please tell us what lens do you mount before you shoot with the Laowa?
 

Variable

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@Dogbert62 I confirm Florian2’s observations. It was obvious, while taking the picture of the door that I posted, that something was wrong, but it was easiest to perceive in evf.

I think we can say that if the previously mounted lens is close to optically correct, then the faulty distortion is hard to see.
 

speedy

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I have to take back a little bit of what I previously said. If I shoot raw/jpeg, mount my 14mm f/2.5 or Lumix 12-32, then the Laowa, I get the distortion happening. Even in the raw file when viewed in Silkypix. Strangely enough, my 12-35 f/2.8II puts everything back to normal. Which is probably why I haven't noticed it, as I use the 12-35 & 10mm as a combo quite a lot.
I'll be interested to see how Laowa progresses with their SD card update program. I'm not getting rid of the little Laowa, it's a brilliant little lens, nothing else like it out there.
 

Florian2

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@speedy Very interesting what you are saying about the 12-35. Its distortion in RAW files differs a lot depending on the focal length, even seems to go from barrel to pincushion distortion:
https://www.opticallimits.com/m43/766_pana1235f28?start=1
Maybe the results of the Laowa used after the 12-35 differ depending on the focal length at which you were shooting your last picture with the 12-35. Or maybe something totally different happens. Unfortunately I do not own this lens.

Also interesting that Silkypicx applies the correction automatically, too. But maybe it is possible to turn it off? My experience with DxO prove that the false correction is not "built in" the data of the RAW file.
 

speedy

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Everything I've seen, shows pincushion distortion when it goes wrong with the Laowa, so I went looking for m4/3 lenses with bad barrel distortion. The Lumix 20, & Lumix 14 seem the worst, the 12-32 is not quite as bad, & my PL 8-18 is pretty good. The 12-35 isn't bad really. I haven't looked at the 14-140, but I'd guess that isn't flash either. I did a couple of real quick & dirty tests at different focal lengths with the zoom, & without lab testing, I can't see any difference in distortion. Which kind of makes sense,as you don't even have to take a shot with lenses that cause the issue, just mount them & switch the camera on.
And I haven't yet seen a way to turn off distortion corrections in Silkypix as yet. I'll do a bit more looking

Edit -a quick search found this. The 14-140 shows 6% distortion in uncorrected raw files at 14mm. https://www.camerastuffreview.com/en/review-panasonic-lumix-14-140mm-f-3-5-5-6-ii-asph-power-ois/
 
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Florian2

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Shame on Silkypix and Lightroom. They claim to be professional tools. A lot of people are complaining about this for different reasons. I can highly recommand DxO PureRAW. It produces a DNG file that you can export to your Silkypix. It cleans noise like nothing I have seen before. I have tried it after seeing this video by Peter Forsgard
 

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