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Reasonably priced Macro. However Be Cautious! Laowa 85mm F5.6 Evaluation

For a very long time, I puzzled why Macro lenses wanted to be so massive. After which the Laowa 85mm f5.6 got here out. It’s a really small full-frame lens. Granted, it’s bought a number of commerce offs to satisfy a sure value level and some different parameters. Earlier than penning this introduction, I took a while to course of my ideas on this lens. Is it good? I feel there are absolutely of us who would need it. To them it will likely be an awesome lens.

However within the grand scheme of issues, there are elements that make the Laowa 85mm f5.6 tough to make use of. I’d in all probability solely wish to use in a studio. 

Too Lengthy; Didn’t Learn

The Laowa 85mm f5.6 is a small, light-weight macro lens that does rather a lot proper. On the similar time, it nonetheless looks like Laowa must make main enhancements to their lenses since we started reviewing them years in the past.

Professionals and Cons


  • Metallic construct high quality
  • Small
  • Very Light-weight
  • Impartial colours is perhaps nice for some photographers who wish to edit rather a lot later. In any other case, in case you don’t, then Leica’s colours ought to be capable of prevent.
  • Affordable
  • Sharp


  • Not climate sealed
  • I want there have been extra aperture stops.
  • An excellent small entrance filter means it’s virtually not possible to seek out the suitable CPL filter to forestall reflections.

Gear Used

We examined the Laowa 85mm f5.6 with the:

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the Adorama listing:

  • World’s Smallest 2:1 Macro Lens for Full Body Cameras
  • Tremendous Compact and Mild in weight
  • As much as 2x magnification
  • Apochromat APO design
  • Inside Focusing
  • Mounted Focal Size: Focal Size: 85mm
  • Lens Kind: Macro Lens, Medium Telephoto Lens
  • Picture Stabilization: Picture Stabilization: No
  • Filter Measurement: Focal Size: 46mm


The Laowa 85mm f5.6 is the smallest 2:1 macro lens we’re conscious of. They do that whereas giving it apochromatic components and in addition having a steel exterior construct.


Right here’s an take a look at the Laowa 85mm f5.6 general. The focusing ring is in the direction of the again whereas the aperture ring is up prime within the entrance. The apertures are declicked.

This lens requires a really small filter to make it helpful, particularly when photographing by glass. We are saying this as a result of we really feel it may benefit rather a lot from a CPL of some type.

Right here’s a take a look at the essential bits. There’s a full zone focusing space on this lens, which is essential for a macro lens.

As a rule although, you in all probability received’t find yourself utilizing it.

Construct High quality

The Laowa 85mm f5.6 is in a bizarre spot. It has a steel exterior, which is extremely praised amongst many photographers. As the remainder of our employees affirm, steel lenses really feel high-quality. And whereas it doesn’t really feel as good because the Leica lenses I’d placed on my SL2s, this lens feels higher than a couple of different choices.

Additional, the Laowa 85mm f5.6 maintains a really light-weight really feel. It does this by a couple of issues. For starters, there are not any AE/AF communication contacts. Which means you’ll be counting on focus peaking or magnification once you focus the lens. What’s extra, this lens isn’t climate sealed. So that you’re not going to be taking this out into the rain. 

Principally, you need to use this lens at dwelling each time you may. Once I noticed the advertising for this lens with it getting used within the rainforest and different locations, I used to be shocked. Personally, I wouldn’t take a lens like this into tough areas regardless of the steel construct.

Ease of Use

Laowa lenses have all the time been difficult to make use of, however excessive on their return, and the Laowa 85mm f5.6 isn’t any exception. I’m an skilled reviewer, and even this was powerful. It’s for good purpose too.

  • This can be a lengthy focal size. It’s good to depend on picture stabilization to manually focus an already gradual lens.
  • It’s good to use a mix of focus peaking and magnification to make sure that your topic is in focus in case you’re not utilizing a tripod of some type.
  • Because it’s a gradual lens, you have to crank up the ISO in case you’re capturing handheld. 
  • The dearth of focus communication with the digicam means you have to be meticulous about your focusing.
  • Even at 85mm, f5.6 is pretty shallow.
  • Once you suppose you will have one thing in focus, you have to double test that you simply’re not going to have points with digicam shake.
  • The Leica SL2s would generally suppose the lens was at f11 when it was at f8.

Really, I feel this lens belongs on a digicam mounted to a tripod in a studio. Mix all this with the shortage of climate sealing, and also you’d in all probability agree. 

In terms of climate sealing, we’re significantly emphasizing this. Climate sealing doesn’t solely defend your digicam sensor when there may be inclement climate, however it additionally maintain particles out of your pictures. Additionally, remember to seize a small round polarizer to get extra sharpness from this lens in case you’re photographing topics behind glass.


The focusing with the Laowa 85mm f5.6 is finished manually. Like we mentioned earlier, you have to use a mix of focus peaking and magnification. We actually want Laowa began together with focusing contacts with their cameras. A minimum of that manner, we wouldn’t have points with the use. That is ideally how we’ve like each lens.

Whereas the Laowa 85mm f5.6 had focusing contacts, we’d strongly advocate it for Canon as Canon has a rangefinder system that works properly.

Picture High quality

The Laowa 85mm f5.6 produces lovely picture high quality. We predict numerous photographers will prefer it. However to us, it’s a tad too clinically good. I like character, and so does the remainder of the employees right here. Once I’ve used Leica’s Apochroamtic lenses, I’ve come to anticipate some signature “pop” to the topic. However that’s missing with the Laowa 85mm f5.6, and I’m as a substitute counting on Leica’s colours to make pictures actually shine.


Make no mistake, the Laowa 85mm f5.6 can provide you some positively lovely bokeh. A part of that’s as a result of it may possibly focus so intently. Mix that with Leica’s colours, and the pictures may have a really particular look to them. I assumed precisely that as I shot the picture above. 

Colour Rendition

I feel the colours in these pictures are taking place extra due to how Leica’s rendering works with their sensors and processors. I’ve used Panasonic’s 85mm f1.8, and it has a totally completely different look from this. Panasonic has character; Laowa is extra about medical perfection. 

Lens Character

There isn’t any lens character to talk of with this lens. It feels very medical. And in case you’re a fan of Sony lenses, then you definately’ll just like the Laowa 85mm f5.6.


Large open, the Laowa 85mm f5.6 is fairly sharp. And it does that with out utilizing different tips like extreme distinction. Cease the lens down and it turns into even sharper. Use it with a flash, and also you’ll actually see the sharpness it’s able to.

Additional Picture Samples

From day one, The Phoblographer has been large on transparency with our viewers. Nothing from this assessment is sponsored. Additional, numerous of us will put up critiques and present numerous modifying within the pictures. The issue then turns into that anybody and everybody can do the identical factor. They’re not displaying what the lens can do. So we have now a piece in our Additional Picture Samples space to point out edited and unedited pictures. From this, you may make a call for your self.





  • Small
  • Light-weight
  • Metallic construct high quality
  • Apochromatic design, although you may’t actually see the consequences of it
  • Fairly rattling inexpensive


  • Really want focusing communication
  • Lacks climate sealing
  • Some of us might hate guide focusing.

Let’s get a couple of issues straight right here. Should you’re purchasing for an 85mm lens, don’t get this one. Panasonic makes a fantastic 85mm f1.8 that isn’t rather more costly. If you’d like a macro lens, then get the Laowa 85mm f5.6, however put together to take care of some points. There’s no climate sealing, focus affirmation is tough due to the character of focus peaking and magnification, and the picture high quality is simply commonplace. Actually, I needed to edit all the pictures I shot (and that’s not good). It was kind of tough to get a photograph proper out of the digicam that I appreciated. In most cases, that might be a failing mark from me. However the place the Laowa 85mm f5.6 is saving itself is with the Apochromatic design that shines with Leica rendering. It’s additionally very inexpensive, however makes some sacrifices to get there.

In the long run, I wouldn’t purchase the Laowa 85mm f5.6 Macro lens. As I write this, I’ve bought blended emotions on it. Laowa has some lenses I’ve fallen head over heels for, however this isn’t one in every of them.

The Laowa 85mm f5.6 receives three out of 5 stars. Need one? Examine them out at Adorama.

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