Laowa 105mm f/2 STF - Review / Lens Test - Sample Images & Verdict
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)

Sample Images

Click on a thumbnail to view the original file (opens in a separate window). Please note that the originals are FULL SIZE samples (=several megabytes) thus requiring a significant amount of bandwidth so please take care of the limited resources here.

Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 1600
Focal Length
Aperture: f/
Exposure 1/160s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 2500
Focal Length
Aperture: f/
Exposure 1/200s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 2000
Focal Length
Aperture: f/
Exposure 1/200s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length
Aperture: f/
Exposure 1/200s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 1600
Focal Length
Aperture: f/
Exposure 1/50s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 400
Focal Length
Aperture: f/
Exposure 1/200s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 640
Focal Length
Aperture: f/
Exposure 1/320s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 105.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/500s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 105.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/320s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length
Aperture: f/
Exposure 1/1250s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 400
Focal Length
Aperture: f/
Exposure 1/200s
Make Canon
Model Canon EOS 5DS R
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length
Aperture: f/
Exposure 1/1250s

Verdict

Honestly we are bokeh lovers here in the zone so if a manufacturer manages to come up with something special, they almost won us over. Thus we were thrilled when we heard of the Laowa 105mm f/2 and we truly enjoyed testing it ... although it is difficult to handle a fully manual, fast tele lens on a DSLR. In order to achieve maximum focus accuracy, we used live view. Using live view with a 1.5kg camera hand-held is limiting the fun a bit to say the least. Such a lens really screams for a split-image screen or, even better, a mirrorless camera which is simply much better aligned to using fully manual lenses.

The technical quality of the Laowa lens is truly impressive even when ignoring the STF feature. It is extremely sharp in and near the image center and the borders are also very good. The extreme corners are just Ok at f/2 but very decent beyond. If you compare the MTFs with the other reviews that we have done on the EOS 5Ds R so far, you will appreciate how good these results really are! Lateral CAs are not relevant and neither are image distortions. The amount of vignetting is similar to other fast medium tele lenses so you will have to live with some vignetting specifically at f/2. On the down side, the lens is very prone to flare so using the supplied lens hood is advisable.

The most significant value proposition is, of course, the rendition of the bokeh and the lens truly shines here (mostly at f/2). The highlight discs and (background-)focus transitions are indeed very silky. Thus while the focal length and speed alone may not be a reason to get excited, the STF feature is! The amount of bokeh fringing is, again, typical for a lens in this class.

Another positive aspect is the build quality of the lens. We have handled other Laowa lenses in the past but this one is a significant step forward. The lens body is an all-metal construction and the control rings are very smooth and dampened.

Given its all-manual nature, it's certainly not a mainstream lens but if you are at peace with the concept, not shy of an experiment and like a smooth bokeh, the Loawa 105mm f/2 STF is worth a 2nd thought. The lens has a price tag of 699US$ - compared to conventional 100mm f/2 lenses, this may feel steep but the Laowa is simply not a conventional lens.

Optical Quality: Not provided at this stage    
Mechanical Quality:
Price/Performance:
      
   What does this mean ?