Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT 'Compact Dreamer' Lens Review

Amin Sabet

Administrator
The Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT Lens is a new, fast, ultra-wide rectilinear prime lens for the Micro Four Thirds system. It is currently the fastest 7.5mm lens for our system.

Key specifications:
Focal Length: 7.5mm
Max. Aperture: f/2
Angle of View: 110°
Lens Structure: 13 elements in 9 groups
Aperture Blades: 7
Min. Focusing Distance: 12cm
Max. Magnification: 0.11:1
Filter Thread: 46mm
Dimensions: 50 x 55mm
Weight: 170g (Standard Version), 150g (Lightweight Version)*
Price: $499

*same optical formula, lightweight construction for use with drones

Link to order directly from Venus Optics: Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT
Link to order from B&H: laowa 7.5mm | B&H Photo Video

The above link is tagged so I get affiliate credit for the referral. Your price is unaffected.

The video below shows the lens controls and a discussion of my impressions.


I received this lens from Venus Optics two days ago and was able to take it out for a couple hours yesterday while walking around with my family. For all image samples below, click to access the full-res JPEG. These were processed from raw with sharpening and some distortion correction. At the end of this post, I've made the raw files available for download.

F/2 samples:















F/2.8 samples:





F/4 samples:











F/5.6 samples:









Summary Pros:
  • Very compact and lightweight
  • Very good apparent build quality
  • Fast speed (f/2)
  • Excellent center sharpness wide open with both near and far subjects
  • Very good edge and corner sharpness stopped down to f/4-5.6
  • Less barrel distortion than the Olympus and Panasonic zooms at 7.5mm
  • Good performance with regards to lateral CA
  • Resistant to veiling flare
Summary Cons:
  • Heavy light falloff wide open and more than average light falloff stopped down
  • Susceptible to ghosting flare

Bottom line: The Laowa 7.5mm f/2 is tiny, light, fast, relatively affordable, and is an excellent performer. I was supposed to send the review unit back, but I will be purchasing it instead. Disclosure: I am getting a 20% discount in purchasing the review lens copy.

Link to order directly from Venus Optics*: Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT
Link to order from B&H: laowa 7.5mm | B&H Photo Video

*Note: the first 200 preorders/orders directly from Venus Optics will get a set of Laowa 46mm filters (UV + CPL + ND1000)

Link to download all raw files from this review: Laowa 7mm f2 raw files.zip
 
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MarkRyan

Instagram: @MRSallee
Thanks for the write-up and samples, Amin. At f/4.0 this looks pretty stellar (and perfectly acceptable at wider apertures). Pretty impressive little package.
 
Great stuff! I'm eagerly waiting for mine. They start shipping out today. Should be here soon :dance3:
They do? Where'd you hear that? I preordered but haven't seen any indication of ship date, was starting to dread that it would slip into next month, specially after B&H listed it with a June 12 ETA (tho it would make sense for preorders to ship first!).

Not doubting ya mind you, just curious!
 

shelterbored

New to Mu-43
Thanks for the review, I was waiting for one since I just returned a Panasonic 7-14mm f4.0. It wasn't as sharp as expected (maybe I got a bad copy), and f4 was too limiting. My hope is that this Laowa fits the bill, and would make for lighter traveling.

Anyone have experience with both? From these sample photos, it looks way better than the copy of the 7-14mm I had, so I'll probably pre-order. Thanks!
 

Amin Sabet

Administrator
Anyone have experience with both?
I owned the Panasonic 7-14 for a long time when it first came out, and while I haven't compared them directly, I believe the Laowa is the better performer. Stronger barrel distortion correction is required with the Panasonic, and while this is done automatically, there is a cost in terms of corner performance.

As I mentioned, the shots I've shown here have been processed, meaning that I sharpened, removed some light falloff, and partially corrected color fringing and distortion (similar to how our cameras partially correct the distortion from Panasonic and Olympus zooms). I'd definitely recommend having a play with the raw files I made available for download before making any decisions.

That said, I sold my Panasonic 7-14 zoom, wasn't terribly tempted by the Olympus PRO zoom, and feel like the Laowa is the lens I was waiting for.

Below again are our affiliate links. Helps me a lot if you use these in the event that you decide to buy this lens, thanks!

Link to order directly from Venus Optics*: Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT
Link to order from B&H: laowa 7.5mm | B&H Photo Video

*Note: the first 200 preorders/orders directly from Venus Optics will get a set of Laowa 46mm filters (UV + CPL + ND1000)
 

CyVan

Mu-43 All-Pro
I owned the Panasonic 7-14 for a long time when it first came out, and while I haven't compared them directly, I believe the Laowa is the better performer. Stronger barrel distortion correction is required with the Panasonic, and while this is done automatically, there is a cost in terms of corner performance.

As I mentioned, the shots I've shown here have been processed, meaning that I sharpened, removed some light falloff, and partially corrected color fringing and distortion (similar to how our cameras partially correct the distortion from Panasonic and Olympus zooms). I'd definitely recommend having a play with the raw files I made available for download before making any decisions.

That said, I sold my Panasonic 7-14 zoom, wasn't terribly tempted by the Olympus PRO zoom, and feel like the Laowa is the lens I was waiting for.

Below again are our affiliate links. Helps me a lot if you use these in the event that you decide to buy this lens, thanks!

Link to order directly from Venus Optics*: Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT
Link to order from B&H: laowa 7.5mm | B&H Photo Video

*Note: the first 200 preorders/orders directly from Venus Optics will get a set of Laowa 46mm filters (UV + CPL + ND1000)
Yeah I just just bought a P7-14 as well and its on its way. At the time there was still no solid information when this was going to become available and I was working on a time constraint. Also I felt the capability to zoom might be useful rather than always shooting ultrawide. But this now has me sorely tempted
 

Jonathan F/2

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
This looks way better than the Voigtlander 15mm 3.5 Heliar on FF with very good corners and little to no vignetting. I'd love to see some shots done in low light to see how the points of light look.
 

Amin Sabet

Administrator
This looks way better than the Voigtlander 15mm 3.5 Heliar on FF with very good corners and little to no vignetting
I corrected the vignetting in some of the shots I posted. Check out the raw files to see for yourself!

I'd love to see some shots done in low light to see how the points of light look.
I'll try to post some night shots soon. I wanted to try some sky shots to eval for coma, but the weather around here is not cooperating.
 

shelterbored

New to Mu-43
I'd definitely recommend having a play with the raw files I made available for download before making any decisions.
Thanks, I'll take a look now. When you make these edits, do you save them as a Lightroom preset for this lens, so you can do it the same way each time?
 

jsusilo

Mu-43 Veteran
Thx Amin. Can you comment if there may be additional vignetting when filter is mounted on the lens?
 

MarkRyan

Instagram: @MRSallee
That was a good video.
Regarding the no electrical contacts issue:
I know there is no exif info. Does this also mean the camera will not display the aperture setting or focus peaking/magnification, similar to using a legacy lens?
You won't see the aperture reflected on the camera, but focus peaking will work with both Olympus and Panasonic cameras. You just need to map peaking to a button -- the manual focus ring won't trigger it.
 
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