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

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Amin Sabet, May 29, 2017.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    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:

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    F/2.8 samples:

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    F/4 samples:

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    F/5.6 samples:

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    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
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2017
    • Informative Informative x 28
    • Like Like x 16
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 7
    • Useful Useful x 2
  2. MarkRyan

    MarkRyan Instagram: @MRSallee Subscribing Member

    856
    May 3, 2013
    California
    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.
     
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  3. TassieFig

    TassieFig Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    721
    Oct 28, 2013
    Tasmania, Australia
    Great stuff! I'm eagerly waiting for mine. They start shipping out today. Should be here soon :dance3:
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Impulse

    Impulse Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    83
    Apr 18, 2014
    Puerto Rico
    Frank
    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!
     
  5. TassieFig

    TassieFig Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    721
    Oct 28, 2013
    Tasmania, Australia
    I was getting worried too so I simply contacted them on Facebook ;) 
    They said (a few days ago) they are preparing and should start shipping on Monday (=today)
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    Great...another lens I'm going to lust over...... lol :D 
     
    • Agree Agree x 3
    • Funny Funny x 1
  7. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    Shucks. I was hoping @Amin Sabet@Amin Sabet would do another give away.

    :biggrin::2thumbs:
     
    • Funny Funny x 2
  8. shelterbored

    shelterbored New to Mu-43

    2
    May 29, 2017
    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!
     
  9. davidzvi

    davidzvi Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    David
    Great, so now do I sell off the 9-18 I just picked up to fund this?
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    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)
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  11. CyVan

    CyVan Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Mar 9, 2016
    Jamaica
    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
     
  12. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    If you like to also shoot at 10mm, 12mm, etc, and like working with zooms, then I think you made the right decision!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. CyVan

    CyVan Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Mar 9, 2016
    Jamaica
    hehe that's the thing.. this is my first time using a UWA :p , the widest thing I have is the 14mm of my 14-140mm
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    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.
     
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  15. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I corrected the vignetting in some of the shots I posted. Check out the raw files to see for yourself!

    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.
     
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 2
  16. Schwingi

    Schwingi Mu-43 Regular

    60
    Aug 23, 2016
    Linz, Austria
    Thanks for the review and the sample images!
     
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  17. shelterbored

    shelterbored New to Mu-43

    2
    May 29, 2017
    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?
     
  18. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I haven't made a preset yet. Also, I use Capture One rather than Lightroom.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. jsusilo

    jsusilo Mu-43 Veteran

    256
    Aug 28, 2012
    Thx Amin. Can you comment if there may be additional vignetting when filter is mounted on the lens?
     
  20. MarkRyan

    MarkRyan Instagram: @MRSallee Subscribing Member

    856
    May 3, 2013
    California
    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.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2017
    • Agree Agree x 2
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