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How The Laowa 90mm f2.8 Macro Makes Bokeh Extra Special


We’re really curious about the Laowa 90mm f2.8 Macro lens being announced today for a few reasons. First off, Laowa puts out new lenses at a very furious pace. More importantly, they make them for nearly every lens mount available too. But what’s seriously fascinating about the new Laowa 90mm f2.8 Macro is a critical part of the design: it’s an apochromatic lens. If you’ve read about my thoughts previously on Apochromatic lenses, then you’ll understand why this is extremely special. Even better, Laowa is promising that the design is less than 5 inches long while being a bit more than 1lb.

The Apochromatic Design

Typically for years, Leica was best known for its apochromatic lenses. What an apochromatic element does is boost the contrast of what’s in focus and makes that area pop a whole lot. It’s very visible too. I own the Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL and this past weekend I used my Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 Art lens. There’s no comparison to how much better the Leica was at that one focal length and overall in colors. Because of that, I’m seriously in love with what apochromatic lenses do. Combine this is the fact that Laowa is saying that it’s smaller, and you’ve got something special. 

Of course, we still have yet to test it out!

Now here’s what’s even more fascinating: this is a 2x macro lens. That means that it can focus super closely and the subject will pop all that much more. Generally speaking, this will be really fantastic when you don’t want to do focus stacking. That also means that the workflow for some photographers will be arguably more tedious.

Let’s be honest here, this is a Laowa lens. And the Laowa 90mm f2.8 Macro is manual focus, not weather-resistant, and also doesn’t have autofocus confirmation built-in. So that means you need to use focus peaking and focus magnification. More importantly, it will mean that it’s easiest to use when your camera is on a tripod. That can be fun, but it also gets annoying when you’re out in the wild. Even though Leica L, Canon RF, Nikon Z, and Sony E mounts all have image stabilization, it probably won’t be enough. You’ll really need a flash for the fast flash-duration effects. 

If you’re still shedding your down feathers, flash-duration acts almost like a second shutter speed. It can stop very fast-moving motion. Henceforth, it can help the camera and your shaky paws capture a sharp still photo. That’s where it gets even odder. Lights from Godox and Flashpoint have fast flash duration, but I’ve never really seen them shine the way a Profoto light does. Even what we’ve tested from Elinchrom hasn’t been able to touch Profoto yet. So that begs the question: why get the Laowa 90mm f2.8 Macro when it’s best realized handheld using a multi-thousand dollar Profoto light?

Wouldn’t you go for something with autofocus confirmation, weather resistance, and more? 

However, I can’t deny the fact that a $499 price point is very attractive. Still, I’m not sure which consumer will buy one, and I’ll need to figure that out during our review process.

Specifications for the Laowa 90mm f2.8 Macro

Laowa 90mm f2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO

Focal length

90mm

Aperture range

f/2.8-22

Angle of view

27°

Format

Full Frame

Lens structure

13 elements in 10 groups
(3 ED elements)

Aperture blades

13 blades

Maximum magnification

2X

Minimum focusing distance

205mm

In-focus driving mode

Manual (MF)

Dimensions for Filter Thread

Ø 67mm

Dimensions

About Ø 74mm * 120mm

Weight

About 619g

Mount

Canon RF / Nikon Z / Sony E / L mount







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