The Laowa 25mm f2.Eight 2.5-5x Extremely Macro from Venus Optics is a particular macro lens: It may well solely focus very shut (Four cm / 1.6in. working distance) however delivers a magnification of two.5-5x – which is far larger than the 1:1 (1x) magnification most “customary” macro lenses can obtain with out using bellows or extension tubes. The lens is corrected for full-frame cameras the place it frames an space of 10x15mm at 2.5x magnification which is concerning the dimension of a small postage stamp. Going as much as 5x magnification the realm of sharp focus turns into simply 4.8×7.2 mm. The Laowa 5x extremely macro is guide focus and guide aperture solely and doesn’t transmit EXIF knowledge to the digital camera.
The Laowa 5x Extremely Macro is obtainable for Canon EF & RF, Nikon F & Z, Pentax Okay, Sony FE, and Leica L mounts and prices about 400-500 EUR / 400 USD / 360 GBP relying on the mount. Venus Optics additionally affords a particular entrance LED ring mild and a tripod collar to go together with the lens.
Information and options
Let’s have a more in-depth take a look at the technical knowledge and options of the Laowa 5x Extremely Macro. 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 disadvantage. Dimension and weight had been measured for the Nikon Z-mount model of the lens.
Dimension: The lens has a diameter of 66mm (2.6in.) on the mount and solely 43mm (1.7in.) on the entrance. This makes lighting topics from the entrance simpler on the quick working distance of 40mm (1.6in.). When set to 2.5x magnification the size of the lens is 114mm (4.5in.). It extends to a size of 168mm (6.6in.) at 5x magnification. The Laowa 5x Extremely Macro is just not a small lens regardless of its quick focal size of 25mm. 
Weight: 469g (17 oz.). The all metallic barrel provides the lens a reasonably strong really feel but in addition fairly some weight. 
Optics: The Laowa 5x Extremely Macro is a reasonably easy design with Eight components in 6 teams together with one particular dispersion factor. The glass components have multi-layer anti-reflection coating. [+]
Closest focus distance is 0.17m (0.56ft.) at a magnification of two.5x and 0.22m (0.73ft.) at 5x magnification. This ends in a working distance of solely 45mm (1.8in.) at 2.5x and 40mm (1.6in.) at 5x. The lens has a double barrel development and extends 54mm (2.1in.) whereas focusing from 2.5x to 5x magnification. A most magnification of 5x is fairly distinctive for a macro lens. Solely Canon and Mitakon have lenses which attain 5x magnification. However the working distance could be very quick – particularly in comparison with the Mitakon Creator 85mm f2.Eight Tremendous Macro which affords 100mm of working distance at 5x magnification. [+]
Picture stabilization: The Laowa 5x Extremely Macro has no optical stabilization. You solely get the built-in sensor-shift stabilization which fashionable mirrorless digital camera our bodies present. However usually you’ll be working from a tripod anyway. Must you dare to shoot this lens free-hand I’d counsel to enter the longest focal size your digital camera permits (on a Nikon Z underneath “Non-CPU lens knowledge”) which makes the digital camera stabilization work finest. Or higher but: use a flash to cease any shake or movement blur. 
Filter-thread: There’s no filter-thread on the entrance or gel-holder on the again. The entrance has as a substitute a bayonet socket which can be utilized to both mount the entrance lens cap or the optionally accessible LED ring mild. [-]
Auto focus: No, the lens is guide focus solely. The main target ring is 14mm broad with a barely ribbed metallic floor. Operation of the main focus ring requires grip and fairly some power – so you needn’t concern focus-creep when the lens is operated in a vertical place. The main target ring turns 110 levels between 2.5x and 5x magnification and the frontend of the lens extends 1mm for each 2 diploma of focus flip. This makes it utterly impractical to focus with the main focus ring as depth of area is at all times shallower than 1mm (see under). So usually you’ll use the main focus ring of the lens to set the magnification / field-of-view solely and focus by shifting the digital camera backwards and forwards, ideally on a macro-rail. The lens has an engraved magnification indicator as a substitute of a distance scale. By the way in which: not one of the options has autofocus. 
Aperture: The Laowa 5x Extremely Macro has Eight aperture blades. The aperture is operated manually through an aperture ring with 1 cease clicks from f2.Eight to f16 and a bit past. The partially ribbed floor of the ring is 8mm broad and the click-stops really feel strong. The lens has no electrical contacts and doesn’t switch EXIF knowledge concerning the aperture to the digital camera which implies that its worth is just not recorded within the image-file. And don’t be fooled by the nominal aperture values engraved on the aperture ring: These are calculated with the lens at infinity. Extra related are the efficient f-numbers which depend upon the magnification: They fluctuate between f9.6 at 2.5x magnification right down to f16.Eight at 5x when the aperture is ready to f2.8. These f-numbers point out that picture decision is already influenced by diffraction even when operated broad open. Preserve this in thoughts whenever you cease the lens down: at a nominal aperture worth of f8 the efficient f-number is between f27 at 2.5x magnification and f48 at 5x. [-]
Depth of area (dof) relies on the magnification and the (efficient) aperture of a lens. And with magnifications bigger than 1:1 dof tends to be a lot shallower than 1mm. So it’s factor that Laowa has included a desk of their customers guide (see under). It additionally reveals the rationale why you want a (good) focus rail to focus the lens accurately: At 5x magnification and a nominal aperture of f2.Eight dof measures simply 50 microns. So for focus stacking you’ll want a rail which might constantly transfer in steps of 25-50 microns. 
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 guide settings in post-processing. 
Covers full body/FX or smaller. [+]
Worth: 400-500 EUR (incl. 19% VAT) / 400 USD / 360 GBP relying on the mount. The entrance LED ring mild is 40 USD, the tripod collar 30 USD. [+]
The lens comes with a clear plastic pouch with a string to tug it shut. There’s no lens hood which at a working distance of 4cm would solely get in the way in which of lighting your topic. However there’s a small body contained in the lens to dam a number of the stray mild not meant for the sensor (see above). The body’s place strikes contained in the lens relying on magnification. Back and front lens caps are included with the entrance cap having a bayonet sort mount. The non-obligatory entrance LED ring mild comes with a USB cable to plug into any USB charger or powerbank. 
Sealing: No, not even a rubber grommet on the lens-mount. So when you’re taking pictures outside it is best to defend the lens from the weather. [-]
Equipment: Venus Optics affords a particular LED ring mild (40 USD) which might be mounted on the entrance bayonet socket, and a tripod collar (30 USD) particularly designed for the lens. The LED ring mild has a diameter of 59mm and desires some extra house on the aspect for the USB connector. It has a strong metallic housing and weighs 31g (with out cable or energy supply). You’ll be able to energy it from a regular 5V USB connection or power-bank. It turns into fairly sizzling after a couple of minutes and Laowa claims it’s for focus help solely. Nicely, who’s going to cease you utilizing it as illumination to your pictures? Its colour rendering is probably not one of the best however at the very least it isn’t overly blue, colour temperature is round 4200Okay. Simply be certain the sunshine doesn’t overheat. And bear in mind that ring lights produce distinct results on bubbly, shiny surfaces – like a thousand angel’s eyes on bugs or froth. [+]
At a rating of three[-]/7/5[+] the Laowa 25mm f2.Eight 2.5-5x Extremely Macro affords the particular alternative to achieve 5x magnification at an inexpensive value and a strong (albeit not climate sealed) full metallic physique. The lacking autofocus may historically not be seen as an issue in macro images. However with the appearance of focus bracketing in fashionable cameras autofocus made it again on the want record for macro lenses. The opposite drawbacks of lacking filter mount and guide aperture are simpler to reside with.
There are few macro lenses that transcend a most magnification of 2x with out using bellows or extension tubes. And all of them are guide focus solely and can’t focus to infinity:
- The Canon MP-E 65mm f2.Eight macro lens affords a most magnification of 5x. It’s accessible in Canon EF-mount solely however can be utilized on different cameras through the suitable mount adapters. It prices round 980 EUR / 1050 USD / 1060 GBP and comes with a removable, rotatable tripod collar. Its main advantages over the Laowa 5x Extremely Macro: It covers a wider vary of magnifications beginning on the extra typical 1x magnification with a working distance of 101mm (4.0in.) (however solely 41mm at 5x), has an digital aperture, a 58mm filter-thread, and relays EXIF knowledge (incl. distance info) again to the digital camera.
- Mitakon has the Creator 85mm f2.Eight Tremendous Macro with magnification between 1x and 5x. It prices 530 EUR / 500 USD together with a removable, rotatable tripod collar and a entrance LED mild. It’s accessible in Sony A & E, Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax Okay, Fujifilm X, and Micro 4 Thirds mounts however can be utilized on different cameras through the suitable mount adapters. Just like the Laowa 5x Extremely Macro the aperture needs to be operated manually and EXIF knowledge aren’t handed to the digital camera. It has a 58mm filter-thread and affords the longest working distances of all of the options: 272mm (10.7in.) at 1x magnification and 100mm (3.9in.) at 5x.
- Mitakon additionally affords the Creator 20mm f2.Zero macro lens with a restricted vary of magnifications between 4x and 4.5x. It has a minimal working distance of solely 20mm (0.8in.) and efficient apertures ought to begin round f8.0. It’s the most cost effective of the options at 200 EUR / 240 USD and is obtainable in Canon EF & EOS-M, Nikon F, Sony A & E, Pentax Okay, Micro 4 Thirds, and Fuji X mounts however can be utilized on different cameras through the suitable mount adapters. Its aperture is operated manually and EXIF knowledge aren’t handed to the digital camera. The lens has no filter-thread and solely three aperture blades which ought to produce an odd out-of-focus blur when stopped down.
Should you suppose a magnification of two:1 (2x) is sufficient to your functions then Laowa’s 100mm f2.Eight 2x Macro APO is likely to be one other different. It has one distinct benefit over the Laowa 5x Extremely Macro: It may well focus to infinity and thus doubles up as a light-weight telephoto lens. It additionally has a barely extra comfy working distance of 0.08m (3.1in.) at 2x magnification.
Right here is the sector of view from the Laowa 5x Extremely Macro at 2.5x and 5x magnifications in comparison with the Laowa 100mm f2.Eight 2x Macro APO at 1x and 2x magnification:
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