Understanding the Laowa product range
1. Firstly, they make a variety of macro lenses, primarily for the 35mm market - Canon, Nikon and Sony.
2. Secondly, they make what is essentially only one wide angle lens, but for all formats from Micro ¾, Fuji X, 35mm, Fuji GFX and even PL mounts. Once you consolidate these different versions of the Zero-D ultra-wide, the product range is quite simple.
3. Thirdly, they are now (2019) expanding the product range beyond the Zero-D and macro lenses with a dedicated cine zoom and a range of fast, wide MFT lenses for the pro-drone market. The also released their first wide angle zoom lens recently, suggesting that they will be releasing zoom lenses for all mounts.
Ultra Wide Zero-D Lens
The middle lens (12mm) is the brand’s genesis. It offers a super wide view, impeccable sharpness and class-leading distortion performance in a compact and rock-solid build at a price far below the electronic competition.
Building on the success of the 12mm, they released versions for almost every mount on the market, which is what you see to the left and right of the 12mm, so essentially these are all the same lens, for different users. Note that the 15mm f/4 is absent - it is something totally different, which is why it is confusing to approach the Laowa product range from a focal length perspective.
Laowa seem to have become better known for their macro lenses as this is an area that the mainstream manufacturers have neglected and Laowa have seized the gap with resounding success. As these lenses are all different, we will elaborate more on each with a dedicated content section. Instead of going chronologically, we’ll sort them by weirdness. Image © XiaoKaiHuo
24mm f/14 2x Probe Lens
Released in 2018, this lens launched Laowa far beyond the world of macro and wide angle photo nerds into the tech spotlight.
The wide angle of view combined with the long narrow (and waterproof) tip has opened up a completely new world to photographers and videographers. Originally designed with nature macro photographers in mind, the biggest market for the lens is food and product videography. The lens produces a wide angle micro-view of anything from a burger to a microchip or a line-up of wine bottles. Mind you, people are also getting amazing close-ups of things like bees in their hives and fish in shallow water.
15mm f/4 1x Macro Lens with Shift
All the manufacturers make macro lenses with a long focal length - why? We don’t know, but we’re glad that someone decided to do something different. A magnification factor of one doesn’t sound like much, but your mind might be changed by this lens’s minimum focus distance - seven millimeters. Not centimeters, millimeters.
This lens allows a close-up of any subject (that doesn’t bite) WITH its surroundings included in the photo. Oh and it also has a shift function. Laowa know how to make lenses that offer a unique view and this is one of their most popular lenses. Our customers most commonly use it for close-ups of small critters in their environment or for close-up product photography with a secondary subject in background.
25mm f/2.8 x 2.5 - x5.0
An affordable ultra-macro lens with spectacular image quality. Don’t take our word for it - read SA’s macro queen Vida van der Walt’s thoughts on the lens.
This not only opens the 5x macro world for Nikon and Sony shooters, but it also makes it available to Canon shooters for a fraction of the price of the MPE 65mm.
60mm + 100mm f/2.8 2x Macro
The 60mm is another one of Laowa’s benchmark lenses as it offers image quality that will scare an MTF chart’s curves straight and twice the magnification of Canon and Nikon’s offerings.
Add class-leading bokeh, indestructible build quality and affordability and you’ve got one of the best macro lenses on the market.
In response to the success of the 60mm, a 100mm counterpart will be released in Q2 or Q3 of 2019. Did we mention that despite a 2x magnification factor, these lenses focus to infinity and make killer primes for general use?
10-18mm f/4 - f/5.6 for Sony FE
Laowa are rapidly expanding their lens line-up in a variety of directions. The first and most notable is their first zoom lens, the 10-18mm f/4-f/5.6 for Sony’s full frame FE mount.
Taking on the big guns
25-100mm OOOM T/2.6 Cine Zoom
Slated for release in early 2020, this lens promises amazing image quality and bokeh with near zero focus breathing at a price that will scare the Japanese and German cine lens manufacturers.
4mm f/2.8 + 17mm f/1.8 MFT
Laowa are tackling the demand for affordable, fast, wide primes for the MFT market with the development of a fisheye and f/1.8 wide lens for this booming mount.