Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO - Review / Test Report - Sample Images & Verdict
Lens Reviews - Fujifilm X

Sample Images

Click on an image for downloading the full-size variant.

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ModelX-T30
ISO Speed200
Focal Length65.0mm
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Exposure0.5263158s

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Focal Length65.0mm
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Focal Length65.0mm
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Focal Length65.0mm
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Focal Length65.0mm
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Focal Length65.0mm
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Focal Length65.0mm
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Focal Length65.0mm
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Focal Length65.0mm
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Focal Length65.0mm
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Focal Length65.0mm
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Focal Length65.0mm
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Competition

There are a couple of macro lens options for Fujifilm X mount - both conventional and non-conventional ones. At the top of the food chain is the Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 LM R OIS macro - shown to the right below. It also by far the most expensive of them all at 1200USD or about 3x the price of the Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO (to the left). Obviously, it's fully coupled and features an image stabilizer. We only tested this one at 16-megapixels but in terms of sharpness, it should be in the same realm as the Laowa. Then there's the ol' but still very good Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 R macro. This lens is still more expensive but it's slightly faster at least and obviously shorter. On the downside, it can only focus down to 1:2 though. Then there's the Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8 macro (not shown). While the brand name may suggest otherwise, it isn't quite as good as the other options mentioned so far. On the other side of the price spectrum is the new 7Artisans 60mm f/2.8 macro. It costs HALF the price of the Laowa lens so if you are on a tight budget, it may be interesting. However, none of the mentioned competitors is an APO lens with axial CA correction - not even the XF 80mm f/2.8.

Visual comparison courtesy of camerasize.com.

Verdict

The Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO is a stunning performer with just a few minor weaknesses. Its biggest value proposition is the excellent resolution. At f/2.8, the center is tack sharp with a hint of softness at the image corners. However, at f/5.6, the quality is as good as it gets! Lateral CAs, as well as distortions, are non-existent. There's a tad of vignetting at fully open aperture but it's by no means disturbing and it can be reduced by stopping down. The quality of the bokeh is good. The foreground blur is very smooth whereas the background blur could be better. Out of focus highlights are nicely rendered at f/2.8 but you can spot that the lens doesn't feature curved aperture blades at smaller aperture settings. A big plus in our book is the lack of axial CAs which is already a massive achievement alone but even more so at a price point of just 399USD/479EUR. It is a true APO lens indeed.
The build quality of the all-metal Laowa lens is very good- also thanks to the constant physical size.. The focus ring feels great and here are no wobbly partsWeather-sealing is not implemented. As mentioned, the aperture mechanism isn't super accurate though. In real life it won't matter too much but the effective minimum aperture settings are actually bigger (in terms of aperture diameter) than indicated. A more substantial drawback for some is the all-manual nature - no AF, no EXIF data, no camera-controlled aperture. Macro photographers may shrug this off because AF is of little use in the macro world but the average Bruce and Sheila may miss this during everyday photography.
Not all Laowa lenses are excellent but some are and the Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO is certainly among them. Canon, Fujifilm & the likes have reasons to get a little nervous by now. As of today, Laowa is still a niche player today but once they'll be able to source the necessary parts for implementing AF and electronic coupling, they'll be heading straight for the mainstream.

Optical Quality:    
★★★★★
Mechanical Quality:
★★★★★
Price/Performance:
★★★★★

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