Laowa 10mm f/2 comparison with Olympus 9-18mm

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jpig Contributing Member • Posts: 545
Laowa 10mm f/2 comparison with Olympus 9-18mm
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I recently received my Laowa 10mm f/2 and have been comparing it to my Olympus 9-18mm set at 10mm. I took both lenses hiking and shot them handheld, as I normally would. I tried to match framing and exposure as best I could, but as usual, perfection eluded me.

What I’ve noticed so far is that the two lenses have slightly different color rendition, with the Olympus warmer and the Laowa cooler. I’m not sure which I prefer, probably something in between. The Laowa is clearly sharper at the edges and corners, at all overlapping apertures. At the center of the image, the results are less consistent. Most of the time, there’s not much difference. In some photos, the Laowa seems slightly sharper in the central image area as well as significantly sharper at the edges and corners. But in a few images, the Laowa is noticeably softer in parts of the central image area, while remaining significantly sharper at the edges and corners. I’m puzzled by this and wonder if it could be due to some sort of user error. I would be interested in any explanations you can suggest. I like the Laowa a lot, but this occasional softness in the center has me baffled as to whether the problem is in front of or behind the camera.

At any rate, here are a few comparisons from my recent hike. In this first set, the Laowa is sharper all around:

Olympus @ 10mm f/4.2 1/1600 exp comp +2/3

Laowa 10mm @ f/4 1/1600 exp comp +2/3

Olympus @ 10mm f/5.6 1/1000 exp comp +2/3

Laowa 10mm @ f/5.6 1/800 exp comp +2/3

In the next set, central sharpness is about the same, and the Laowa is significantly sharper at the edges and corners:

Olympus @ 10mm f/4.2 1/1600 exp comp +2/3

Laowa 10mm @ f/4 1/1600 exp comp +1/3

Olympus @ 10mm f/5.6 1/800 exp comp +2/3

Laowa 10mm @ f/5.6 1/800 exp comp +1/3

And finally, one of the examples that puzzle me. The Laowa is clearly sharper at the edges corners, but noticeably softer in parts of the central area (e.g. the bushes at center right):

Olympus @10mm f/4.2 1/2000 exp comp +1

Laowa 10mm @ f/4 1/1600 exp comp +1

Olympus @10mm f/5.6 1/1000 exp comp +1

Laowa 10mm @ f/5.6 1/800 exp comp +1

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