Laowa 105mm f/2 (T3.2) STF Review

November 2, 2017 | Tim Coleman | |
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Conclusion

The Laowa 105mm f/2 (T3.2) STF lens is an exceptionally well made and durable lens. It’s heavy, it’s solid and it feels lovely in the hand. 

When shooting with the sweet spot of the lens which is f/4, image quality is top drawer. It is possible to get really sharp images. Certainly when paired with the Nikon D850, every detail pops with wonderful clarity. You’re model may not thank you - every pore, stray hair and blemish is revealed! 

Then there is the silky smooth out-of-focus areas. Having used both diaphragms, we opted to control aperture with the STF ring more often. The 14 aperture blades produce perfectly circular bokeh effect when the lens is wide open - better than the 8 aperture blades of the rear aperture diaphragm. 

We were a little disappointed by how much the lens is affected by flare when wide open. However, focusing is the main sticking point to the Laowa 105mm f/2 lens. 

You’ll want to make the most of those wonderfully bright apertures and out of focus areas, yet the margin for error for sharp focusing at such shallow depths of field is great. We had way more of out-of-focus portraits during this test than those in focus. 

Practice does increase your hit ratio of sharp shots (plus focus bracketing can ensure at least one shot is on the money), but there is that nagging voice in your head saying that there are similar lenses out there that offer autofocus for a modest additional outlay. 

In summary, the Laowa 105mm f/2 STF lens can shoot lovely portraits, when you get the focusing right.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4
Ease-of-use 3
Image quality 4
Value for money 3.5