Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2:1 Ultra Macro APO Review

July 1, 2020 | Tim Coleman |

Conclusion

Macro is a technically challenging genre of photography. When working at double the magnification - which is something unique to Laowa macro lenses - macro is doubly difficult and rewarding in equal measure.

Almost always, the longer the focal length, the practically easier macro photography becomes. This alone clearly marks the Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2:1 Ultra Macro APO lens as the most compelling in the brand's lineup of ultra macro lenses. Right now, the 100mm lens would be our first (and last) pick.

When considering the Laowa 100mm lens versus many of its rivals, there is one key choice regarding handling; would you rather have autofocus or double the magnification? How useful is AF versus how close do you really need to go?

On balance, we'd go for more magnification. Whether shooting 1:1 or 2:1 macro, AF is largely redundant, and at either magnification you'll need a solid grasp of technique.

With the loss of light transmission at 2:1, you'll often need to push the camera to ISO 1600 and higher in order to get workable exposure settings. Yet, for today's cameras that this lens is compatible with, like the Nikon Z6 on test, high ISO performance impresses.

In addition to macro, this lens also takes lovely portraits, for which AF would be great. What we missed more during the test was image stabilisation.

Optically, this is a tack sharp lens from centre to edges, maintaining its impressive performance at virtually all aperture settings. Bokeh is lovely and smooth, free of distortion with only a little cats eye effect in corners at certain aperture/ focus distance settings.

Severe flare when shooting into the light at f/2.8 is a shame, but it is possible to introduce flare creatively into your images with the light just out of shot.

Overall, we have enjoyed our time with the Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2:1 Ultra Macro APO lens immensely. Once you get started, it's hard to stop.

4.5 stars

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