The Laowa 100mm f2.Eight 2x Macro APO from Venus Optics is one among only a few macro lenses which might focus from infinity to 2x magnification. Most “customary” macro lenses can obtain just one:1 (1x) magnification with out using bellows or extension tubes. The lens is corrected for full-frame cameras and might fill the body with a topic of 12 x 18mm (0.47 x 0.71in.) at 2x magnification. The Laowa 100mm f2.Eight 2x Macro APO is handbook focus solely. And apart from the Canon EF model the aperture additionally needs to be operated manually and the lens doesn’t transmit EXIF information to the digital camera.
The Laowa 100mm f2.Eight 2x Macro APO is on the market for Canon EF & RF, Nikon F & Z, Pentax Okay, Sony FE, and Leica L mounts and prices about 500 EUR / 450 USD / 470 GBP.
Info and options
Let’s examine the Laowa 100mm f2.Eight 2x Macro APO (“Laowa” for brief) to the Sigma 105mm f2.Eight DG DN Macro Artwork (“Sigma Artwork”). As typical I’ve rated the options with a [+] (or [++]), when it’s higher than common and even cutting-edge, a  if it’s customary or simply common, and [-] if there’s a drawback. Dimension and weight have been measured for the Nikon Z-mount model of the lens – which is roughly comparable for all mirrorless mounts. The DSLR variations of the lens are about 30mm shorter and 15g lighter.
Dimension (diameter x size): 72 x 159mm (2.Eight x 6.3in.) together with the provided UV filter plus 51mm for the lens hood (92mm diameter). This makes the Laowa clearly longer than the Sigma Artwork at 75 x 136mm + 57mm lens hood which already is sort of an extended lens. 
Weight: The all steel barrel brings the weigh to 700g (25 oz.) together with the provided UV filter. The plastic lens hood provides one other 38g. The Sigma is 708g + 47g lens hood. 
Optics: The Laowa was designed to suit on DSLR cameras with their longer flange distances. It has 12 parts in 10 teams together with two particular dispersion parts. The Sigma Artwork has 17 parts in 12 teams and was particularly designed for mirrorless cameras. There’s no point out of lens coating in Laowa’s advertising materials however the provided UV filter and no less than the entrance lens clearly have multi-layer anti-reflection coating. The Sigma Artwork has a further fluorine-coating on the entrance aspect to repel water, mud, and dust and make cleansing simpler. 
Closest focus distance is 0.25m (0.82ft.) the place the Laowa attain a novel magnification of two:1 (2x). This leads to a working distance of solely 0.08m (3.1in.). At 1x magnification working distance is 0.10m. The Sigma Artwork achieves a most magnification of 1:1 (1x) at a working distances of 0.15m. Each lenses don’t lengthen whereas focusing. The Laowa achieves a magnification of 1:10 at a distance of 1.12m (2.9ft.), the Sigma Artwork at 1.24m [++]
Picture stabilization: The Laowa and the Sigma Artwork haven’t any optical stabilization. You solely get the built-in sensor-shift stabilization which fashionable mirrorless digital camera our bodies present. Because the Laowa doesn’t present EXIF information to the digital camera it is best to enter the focal size within the digital camera menu (on a Nikon Z beneath “Non-CPU lens information”) which makes the digital camera stabilization work finest. 
Filter-thread: 67mm. The Sigma Artwork makes use of 62mm filters. [+]
Auto focus: No, the Laowa is handbook focus solely. The main focus ring is 55mm large, 31mm of it a ribbed steel floor. It turns the way in which Nikon customers are used to which is the reverse of what a Sony or Canon person expects. Operation of the main focus ring requires some pressure – so you needn’t concern focus-creep when the lens is operated in a vertical place. The lens doesn’t change it’s size however the entrance lens group travels 55mm contained in the barrel. The main focus ring has a comparatively brief throw of 120 levels from infinity to 2x magnification which makes it fairly laborious to focus exactly even at longer distances. The Sigma Artwork has the everyday focus-by-wire AF you’ve come to count on from lenses designed for mirrorless cameras with a variable gearing which permits for very exact handbook focus when turned slowly – even for macro pictures. [-]
Focus respiration: Picture turn out to be 9% extra magnified when pulling focus from infinity to 1.12m (1:10 magnification). That is seen and might be distracting when taking pictures movies. The Sigma has barely stronger focus respiration. 
Aperture: The Laowa has 13 aperture blades apart from the Nikon and Pentax model (7 blades) and Canon model (9 blades). Aperture is operated manually by way of an aperture ring with 1 cease clicks from f2.Eight to f22 and the lens doesn’t switch EXIF information in regards to the aperture to the digital camera – apart from the Canon model which has an electronically actuated aperture. The aperture ring is 25mm large however solely 8mm of it are (partially) ribbed. The clicks of the ring are a bit smooth to register correctly and it’s straightforward to vary aperture inadvertently. Efficient f-numbers of the Laowa correspond to the nominal values proven on the aperture ring when the lens is concentrated to infinity. The lens loses 1 cease at 1:2 magnification, 1.7 stops at 1:1 and a couple of.7 stops at 2x – i.e. at 2x magnification the efficient focal ratio is f7.1. It is a regular impact that the majority macro lenses present. Simply take into account to make use of the efficient f-number when calculating depth-of-field or the diffraction restrict. The Sigma has an electronically operated aperture and transfers full EXIF information. It additionally darkens about 2 EV at 1:1 magnification. [-]
Depth of discipline (dof) is determined by the magnification and the (efficient) aperture of a lens. Extensive open it’s about 0.34mm/340 micron at 1x magnification and solely 0.12mm/120 micron at 2x magnification. Laowa’s personal dof-table of their person handbook exhibits even shallower dof – I assume it was calculated utilizing nominal f-numbers. Anyway, it’s advisable to make use of a macro-rail on a tripod to exactly focus the Laowa for close-up pictures. The lens has an engraved magnification scale along with its distance scale. 
Lens profile: The lens doesn’t include a lens profile nor does Lightroom or Photoshop present one. So for correcting vignetting and distortions it’s important to depend on handbook settings in post-processing. 
Covers full body/FX or smaller. Identical with the Sigma. [+]
Worth: 500 EUR (incl. 19% VAT) / 450 USD / 470 GBP. The Sigma Artwork prices 749 EUR / 799 USD / 699 GBP. [+]
The lens comes with out pouch however the plastic lens hood is included and is reversible for transport – however a bit fiddly to mount. Laowa additionally features a clear UV filter to guard the entrance of the lens development with open cam mechanism from the weather. It’s endorsed to depart the filter on always. 
Sealing: No, not even a rubber grommet on the lens-mount. So should you’re taking pictures outdoor it is best to defend the lens from the weather. The Sigma Artwork has a rubber grommet on the lens-mount plus additional particular weather-sealing all through the development. [-]
At a rating of three[-]/8/5[+] the Laowa 100mm f2.Eight 2x Macro APO presents the distinctive alternative to achieve 2x magnification at an affordable worth and a strong (albeit not climate sealed) full steel physique. The lacking autofocus may historically not be considered as an issue in macro pictures. However with the appearance of focus bracketing in fashionable cameras autofocus made it again on the want listing for macro lenses. The handbook aperture is simpler to dwell with.
In the event you’re searching for macro lenses providing a magnification of no less than 1:1 (1x) and focal lengths round 100mm there are plenty of options. Most of them are older DSLR designs which might (nonetheless) be used by way of the suitable adapter on fashionable mirrorless cameras. One of many most cost-effective lenses is from Samyang:
- The Samyang 100mm f2.Eight ED UMC Makro is a DSLR design from 2015 and out there in all kinds of mounts together with Sony E or mft-mount however not (but) for Canon RF, Nikon Z or Leica L-mount. It goes all the way down to 1x magnification and prices about 430 EUR / 500 USD / 390 GBP. Just like the Laowa it has solely handbook focus and a operated by hand aperture and doesn’t switch EXIF information to the digital camera.
If you’d like autofocus and a local mirrorless mount the variety of options slims down significantly:
- Sigma has the 105mm f2.Eight DG DN Macro Artwork, an authentic mirrorless design from 2020 which might attain all the way down to 1:1 (1x) magnification. The lens is of comparable weight however over 2cm shorter than the Laowa. At 749 EUR / 799 USD / 699 GBP it’s out there in Sony E-mount and Leica L-mount. The lens has a de-clickable aperture ring and an AF-lock button.
- Sony’s FE 90mm f2.Eight G OSS Macro is an authentic mirrorless design from 2015 for E-mount and prices about 960 EUR / 1050 USD / 850 GBP. It’s nearly 3cm shorter and 100g lighter than Laowa’s lens. It presents optical picture stabilization however it lacks an aperture ring and has a 10% shorter attain than the Laowa.
- From Tokina there’s the FiRIN 100mm 2.Eight FE Macro from 2019 reaching 1x magnification. It prices 540 EUR / 600 USD / 580 GBP and is just out there for Sony E-mount. It has autofocus and is sort of a bit lighter and shorter than the Laowa however extends when focusing.
- Canon has the freshly introduced RF 100mm f2.Eight L Macro IS USM which matches all the way down to 1.4x magnification and presents optical picture stabilization plus a characteristic to affect Bokeh high quality. Dimension and weight are just like the Laowa, costs are 1550 EUR / 1400 USD / 1480 GBP.
- Nikon has not but introduced particulars of its upcoming Z 105mm S-Line Micro-Nikkor however it’s most likely protected to imagine that it has autofocus, a focal ratio of f2.8, and prices four-figures.
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