Since I switched to the Fuji system three years ago I've been on the lookout for a lens that I can use for shooting stars and the aurora, and while the XF14mm f2.8 is a superb lens, it's not quite wide enough for what I want it for. When I'm shooting the night sky I usually want to include some foreground element and with the 14mm that limits the amount of star-filled sky I can fit in the frame. The XF10-24mm is a wonderful zoom lens but its widest aperture is f4, which means that when you're photographing the night sky in order to get enough light onto the sensor you either need to increase the ISO (which means more noise) or increase the shutter time (which can blur the stars as their movement becomes noticeable in exposures longer than 30 seconds), so all things considered it's not a great lens for shooting the night sky.
Fuji have recently announced the 8-16mm f2.8 and that lens looks to be a superb choice for all kinds of landscapes including stars, but besides being incredibly heavy at over 800g, it's also unable to accept filters, which for me is a problem as I enjoy shooting long exposures with neutral density filters to slow down the shutter time. So when Laowa announced the 9mm f2.8 for the Fuji X mount I was pretty curious. In terms of specs it looked like a superb lens to drop in my bag alongside the 10-24mm to use for shooting the night sky. It's really small and light at only 215g, it has an ultra wide angle of view, a fast f2.8 aperture and it also has a 49mm filter thread, so I can use my regular filters with it. On paper it looked great but I was really curious to see how it performed in the field, so over the last month I've done some shooting with it both in my home city of Lisbon and while I was leading a workshop in Iceland to give the lens a proper test. You can see my thoughts in the video below.
You can see from the video that I was extremely impressed by it's performance. Sharpness is superb, and while vignetting is an issue, it's a solvable one. Using the lens in manual focus isn't a disadvantage at all as most of my landscapes are shot in manual with focus peaking, and the tiny size and weight really mean you don't notice it's there when carrying it around. It's certainly replaced the XF14mm in my bag and certainly makes the up-coming Fuji XF8-16mm f2.8 less of a "must-have" (although I'll wait until later in the year when I have the opportunity to test that lens and see what solutions are available for the lack of filter issue before I make my full conclusion). But overall this is a great lens and at $499 really good value for money.