Laowa 7.5mm f2 initial impressions

Started May 27, 2017 | Discussions
jsdmorrison New Member • Posts: 8
Laowa 7.5mm f2 initial impressions
21

This week I finally got my hands on the much anticipated Laowa 7.5mm f2 for micro four thirds mount.

I know theres been a lot of interest on this forum regarding this lens, so I headed out last night and today to take some test shots. Here are my initial impressions below.

(fyi. All images were shot in RAW on my Panasonic GM5, converted to JPEG in lightroom and resized for the web. I have done no pp at all so that you can see the original results.)

Build Quality and Handling

For an ultrawide angle lens the Laowa 7.5mm f2 is extremely compact and sits nicely amongst my collection of small primes (Panasonic 20mm f1.7 II and Panasonic 42.5mm f1.7. Its roughly the same size as my 42.5mm, although a little slimmer. Weighing in at 170g, it feels quite heavy for its size, which I assume is due to its metal construction.

Build quality is good. It feels well put together. The focus ring is smooth, and the aperture dial is slim, but has a satisfying click as you switch between apertures. I would say it's a better than the fairly plasticy Panasonic 42.5mm f1.7.

Sharpness Test

See below for the center sharpness and corner sharpness test.

Center Crop at 100%

Wide open its fairly soft in the center, but its still useable. This improves through the aperture range, reaching peak sharpness by f5.6.

Corner Crop at 100%

It's a similar story in the corners, a little soft at f2, but improves, and is fairly sharp at f5.6.

Since I plan to mainly shoot landscapes with the camera mounted on a tripod, I will mainly be shooting at f5.6/f8, so I am more than happy with the performance of this lens in terms of sharpness.

Flare

Ultra wide angle lenses are always susceptible to lens flair if the light source is pointing directly into the lens. I tried to induce flare with this shot, and although present, is fairly well controlled.

I plan to do some more test shots with this lens over the next few weeks.

Overall I am very satisfied with the Laowa 7.5mm f2. There’s no real competition in this space if you are looking for a small ultra wide prime for micro four thirds. It fits in perfectly with my compact prime collection, and is a great match for the GM5.

@F5.6

@F5.6

@F4

@F5.6

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm F1.7
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rashid7
rashid7 Senior Member • Posts: 3,908
Re: Laowa 7.5mm f2 initial impressions

thanx 4 sharing... I was curious

But not truly sharp in center til f5.6?!!  (I hope this is just a bad copy)

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OP jsdmorrison New Member • Posts: 8
Re: Laowa 7.5mm f2 initial impressions
3

Hi Rashid,

To my eye, its already sharp even at f2.8, but it reaches peak sharpness at f5.6.

rashid7
rashid7 Senior Member • Posts: 3,908
Re: Laowa 7.5mm f2 initial impressions
1

jsdmorrison wrote:

Hi Rashid,

To my eye, its already sharp even at f2.8, but it reaches peak sharpness at f5.6.

yes my friend, maybe I expect too much.  I would like to see how it compares to my 7-14f4. I do like the size!

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HRC2016 Senior Member • Posts: 4,512
Re: Laowa 7.5mm f2 initial impressions
1

Did you get the free filters? Are they decent?

I read on BH website they aren't shipping this lens until June 12.

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Warukimedesu
Warukimedesu New Member • Posts: 21
Re: Laowa 7.5mm f2 initial impressions

Dude, thanks for sharing. Where did you get it in HK?

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Astrotripper Veteran Member • Posts: 7,084
Close focusing?
2

Thanks for sharing.

I'm a bit surprised about center sharpness. It's not that bad but I was expecting a bit better. Any chance this was a slight mis-focusing issue? Corners are basically what I would expect from it, though.

I'm also planning to get it for my GM5, but I will wait for the lightweight version and when it's available in Europe.

One question for you, how is close focusing looking? The prototype I handled at Photokina was pretty good in this regard. I wonder if something has changed.

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OP jsdmorrison New Member • Posts: 8
Re: Close focusing?
1

Astrotripper wrote:

Thanks for sharing.

I'm a bit surprised about center sharpness. It's not that bad but I was expecting a bit better. Any chance this was a slight mis-focusing issue? Corners are basically what I would expect from it, though.

I'm also planning to get it for my GM5, but I will wait for the lightweight version and when it's available in Europe.

One question for you, how is close focusing looking? The prototype I handled at Photokina was pretty good in this regard. I wonder if something has changed.

It could be misfocusing to be honest.

I'm going to go out and take some more tests shots later this week and check.

Close focusing is good. For the MTR sign, I got pretty close.

d3xmeister Veteran Member • Posts: 3,380
Re: Close focusing?

Thank you for this, I'm very interested in this lens. I think it performs really good.

slartz
slartz Senior Member • Posts: 2,102
Re: Laowa 7.5mm f2 initial impressions
4

Thanks for this. It is an interesting read.

It seems like this could be a good daylight landscape photography lens, where, as you mentioned, one would shoot mostly at f/5.6. In a way it could complement the 9-18 for the wider range. However, if one would buy the 9-18 and this, one is probably better off with the new panasonic 8-18/2.8-4 - which at least from initial impressions is very good even at 8mm F/2.8...

So unless as someone suggested this is a bad focus issue - I would say I would struggle to justify this lens. The one thing this lens might be really good for given its size and weight is drone photography. If you have a m43 mount on your drone, this will give you the widest possible FoV...

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Impulses Veteran Member • Posts: 6,391
Re: Laowa 7.5mm f2 initial impressions

Warukimedesu wrote:

Dude, thanks for sharing. Where did you get it in HK?

I'm curious where the OP bought it too, I'd be glad to hear that preorders are actually shipping before B&H's stock (which has a mid June ETA) but I have a feeling they're not...

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luisflorit
luisflorit Veteran Member • Posts: 8,241
Focus issue?
2

Thanks for the tests!
Your test shows a lens awfully soft wide open, IMO, unusable. OTOH, at F11 is sharper than at F8, and that should not happen.
Is there any chance that the lens was not properly focused at the center? That would explain both issues.

EDIT: I just saw your answer to Astrotripper, sorry.

L.

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Impulses Veteran Member • Posts: 6,391
Re: Laowa 7.5mm f2 initial impressions

slartz wrote:

Thanks for this. It is an interesting read.

It seems like this could be a good daylight landscape photography lens, where, as you mentioned, one would shoot mostly at f/5.6. In a way it could complement the 9-18 for the wider range. However, if one would buy the 9-18 and this, one is probably better off with the new panasonic 8-18/2.8-4 - which at least from initial impressions is very good even at 8mm F/2.8...

So unless as someone suggested this is a bad focus issue - I would say I would struggle to justify this lens. The one thing this lens might be really good for given its size and weight is drone photography. If you have a m43 mount on your drone, this will give you the widest possible FoV...

Well, it's still wider, more compact, and more usable at f2.8 for low light shooting than the 9-18... True the PL8-18 will be better at most of those things, some will value the compact aspect tho (along with the price)... Or at least I'd hope so, there's been cries for more/smaller UWA primes around here for years. I guess those will now shift to "but with AF!". 

I've preordered both and will probably get rid of my 9-18 in the long run, I tended to use it mostly at f5.6 as well so it'll be a bit redundant unless the Laowa is much worse at a similar aperture. If it wasn't for the Laowa being available I might've been more apprehensive about getting the PL8-18, cause it's just too much bulk for me for some situations (and I'm not gonna keep two UWA zooms).

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luisflorit
luisflorit Veteran Member • Posts: 8,241
For me, unusable wide open, unless...

Astrotripper wrote:

Thanks for sharing.

I'm a bit surprised about center sharpness. It's not that bad but I was expecting a bit better.

For me it is frankly unusable, specially for a prime. I would prefer to take two pictures with my 12-40mm zoom and stitch, as I do today, although of course this does not cover all the use scenarios.

Any chance this was a slight mis-focusing issue?

To my eye, F11 is sharper than F8, which supports this.

L.

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Albert Valentino Veteran Member • Posts: 7,828
Re: Laowa 7.5mm f2 initial impressions
2

Thanks for posting. Any tests of how it renders sunstars at f/8 or f/11?

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Andreas Voigt Regular Member • Posts: 179
Re: Laowa 7.5mm f2 initial impressions
1

Thanks for the tests.

My main interest in this lens would be astro usage. Looks quite soft wide open...

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slartz
slartz Senior Member • Posts: 2,102
Re: Laowa 7.5mm f2 initial impressions

Andreas Voigt wrote:

Thanks for the tests.

My main interest in this lens would be astro usage. Looks quite soft wide open...

With this softness at F/2 and F/2.8 - it's really not going to do much good for astro. The 7-14/2.8 and from the first tests - the 8-18/2.8 knocks it out of the woods @ F/2.8

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d3xmeister Veteran Member • Posts: 3,380
Re: Laowa 7.5mm f2 initial impressions

slartz wrote:

Andreas Voigt wrote:

Thanks for the tests.

My main interest in this lens would be astro usage. Looks quite soft wide open...

With this softness at F/2 and F/2.8 - it's really not going to do much good for astro. The 7-14/2.8 and from the first tests - the 8-18/2.8 knocks it out of the woods @ F/2.8

And the Oly 7-14mm, but both are much more expensive and much bigger. However, I think there's something wron here, maybe missfocus or a bad copy.

DH007 Regular Member • Posts: 149
Re: Laowa 7.5mm f2 initial impressions

I can only see resized jpegs the originals don't show for me. The comparison at F stops is interesting but any chance of hi resolution pics?

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adrian1988 Regular Member • Posts: 102
Re: Laowa 7.5mm f2 initial impressions

d3xmeister wrote:

slartz wrote:

Andreas Voigt wrote:

Thanks for the tests.

My main interest in this lens would be astro usage. Looks quite soft wide open...

With this softness at F/2 and F/2.8 - it's really not going to do much good for astro. The 7-14/2.8 and from the first tests - the 8-18/2.8 knocks it out of the woods @ F/2.8

And the Oly 7-14mm, but both are much more expensive and much bigger. However, I think there's something wron here, maybe missfocus or a bad copy.

This looks more like a mis-focus.

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