Optical Limits: Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2X Macro – Outstanding Sharpness and Affordable 2:1 Macro With No Trickery

Venus Optics Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2X Macro:
 Venus OpticsB&H Photo / Amazon / Adorama

Venus Optics has been doing a great job with their Laowa lenses lately and their 65mm f/2.8 2x Macro is an outstanding Macro lens that you should consider. Laowa does not use any trickery to correct their lens and has impressive results throughout the aperture range, but Optical limits thinks that f/22 on the lens might be more like f/14.

The Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO is a stunning performer with just a few minor weaknesses. Its biggest value proposition is the excellent resolution. At f/2.8, the center is tack sharp with you a hint of softness at the image corners. However, at f/5.6, the quality is as good as it gets! Lateral CAs, as well as distortions, are non-existent. There’s a tad of vignetting at fully open aperture but it’s by no means disturbing and it can be reduced by stopping down. The quality of the bokeh is good. The foreground blur is very smooth whereas the background blur could be better. Out of focus highlights are nicely rendered at f/2.8 but you can spot that the lens doesn’t feature curved aperture blades at smaller aperture settings. A big plus in our book is the lack of axial CAs which is already a massive achievement alone but even more so at a price point of just 399USD/479EUR. It is a true APO lens indeed.

The build quality of the all-metal Laowa lens is very good- also thanks to the constant physical size.. The focus ring feels great and here are no wobbly partsWeather-sealing is not implemented. As mentioned, the aperture mechanism isn’t super accurate though. In real life it won’t matter too much but the effective minimum aperture settings are actually bigger (in terms of aperture diameter) than indicated. A more substantial drawback for some is the all-manual nature – no AF, no EXIF data, no camera-controlled aperture. Macro photographers may shrug this off because AF is of little use in the macro world but the average Bruce and Sheila may miss this during everyday photography.

You can read the full review at Optical Limits.

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