Laowa 50mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO MFT - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - (Micro-)Four-Thirds

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published August 2020

Introduction

Laowa has released a couple of very interesting lenses over the last years. Like many other Chinese players, they are focusing on rather extreme designs. Their 24mm f/14 2x Macro Probe is probably the most exotic one and quite famous in the video community by now. And regarding their more conventional macro lenses, we were very impressed by their recent 65mm f2.8 2x APO Ultra-Macro for APS-C mirrorless cameras as well as the 100mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO full-format lens. However, Laowa hasn't forgotten about the Micro-Four-Thirds (MFT) community. So in this review, we are going to discuss the new Laowa 50mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO. So ANOTHER all-manual lens? This is not entirely true anymore. Laowa managed to provide electronic coupling so EXIF data is available and you can also control the aperture via the camera. In fact, for the better or worse, there is no aperture ring on the lens anymore. That being said, it's still a manual focus lens. Thus for accurate results, you have to rely on a magnified focus view. This mode can also be activated by turning the focus ring if you have configured your camera accordingly. It's worth noting that Laowa doesn't participate in the firmware update procedures that are provided by Panasonic/Olympus.

As far as pricing is concerned, Laowa is comparatively boldly priced with an MSRP of USD399. This is within shouting distance of the Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 ED macro which is available for about USD100 more. However, keep in mind that the Laowa can provide a maximum object magnification of 2:1 thus if you are into extreme macro photography there's some value-add just based on the paper specs already.

In the best MFT tradition, Laowa 50mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO is very small and light-weight. This doesn't have a negative impact on the build quality. While it doesn't provide any kind of weather sealing, it is based on an all-metal body. It's also worth pointing out that it doesn't extend during focusing (internal focusing mechanism). The focus ring operates smoothly. A barrel-shaped lens hood is also part of the package.

Specifications
Equiv. focal length (full-format)"100mm" (in terms of field-of-view)
Equiv. aperture (full-format)"f/5.6" (in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction14 elements in 10 groups inc. 3x ELD elements
Number of aperture blades7
min. focus distance0.135m (max. magnification 2:1)
Dimensions53.5x79mm
Weight240g
Filter sizeφ49mm
Hoodbarrel-shaped, bayonet mount, supplied
Other features-
MountMicro-Four-Thirds