Venus Optics Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT review

This blogpost is about the recently released Laowa 7.5mm f/2 rectilinear wide angle lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras. I’ve been using it for photography and videography for roughly three months now and I’d like to share my experience.

The specs

  • Focal Length: 7.5mm
  • Max. Aperture: f/2
  • Aperture ring: clicks
  • Angle of View: 110°
  • Format Compatibility: M4/3 (Micro Four Thirds)
  • Lens Structure: 13 elements in 9 groups
  • Aperture Blades: 7
  • Min. Focusing Distance: 12cm
  • Max. Magnification: 0.11:1
  • Filter Thread: 46mm
  • Lens hood: Removable
  • Dimensions: 50x55mm
  • Weight 170g (Standard Version)/ 150g (Lightweight Version)

The Venus Optics Laowa 7.5mm f/2. Compact size, smooth focus ring, clicked aperture ring, removable lens hood and 46mm filter thread.

The competition

The Laowa 7.5mm f/2 is not the first ultra-wide lens for the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system. Panasonic and Olympus have also developed wide lenses for the MFT system.

Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f/4

  • Pros: Zoom range from ultra wide to medium-wide; decent image quality; fully automatic.
  • Cons: ‘Slow’ lens, with f/4 being the widest aperture - not ideal for indoor and low-light situations.

Panasonic Leica 8-18mm f/2.8 - f/4

  • Pros: Zoom range from ultra wide to medium; good image quality; compact; fully automatic.
  • Cons: Expensive at ~$1000, bigger size.

Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO

  • Pros: Zoom range from ultra wide to medium-wide; good image quality; fully automatic.
  • Cons: Expensive at ~$1000, bigger size.

For an in-depth, more technical / scientific comparison of all the wide angle lenses on MFT systems I highly recommend this post from mirrorlescomparison.com

A low-light example video I shot at Tivoli theme park in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Unscientific but somewhat technical analysis

Sharpness, edge softness

For me, the center sharpness is decent. Towards the edges and corners this lens gets unsharp and slightly distorted. Because I am using this lens mostly for video, motion (and motion blur) masks most of the edge unsharpness. If the lens is stopped down a few stops, let’s say f/2.8 or f/3.5, the overall sharpness is good enough for most productions.

Wide angle distortion

The Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT is a rectilinear lens, so there is no fish eye distortion - something most other wide lenses (like the 7-14mm @ 7mm, or a GoPro Hero4) do have. It’s not difficult to correct in post-production, but I like the rectilinear image straight from the camera.

Flares

Like most wider angle lenses, the Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT is also more prone to lens flares from the sun or other bright sources of light. In the video you can see the stage lights producing flares; personally, I like them a lot. It does add a bit to the cinematic feel, like it does with anamorphic lens flares.

Chromatic Aberrations

I didn’t notice a lot of chromatic aberrations towards the edges; nor do I see purple or green glow/fringe in areas with high contrast. Actually, I was amazed by the beautiful color contrast this lens produces. I work with lower contrast in-camera color profiles and this lens still produces amazing contrast. I’ve used this lens for a lot of time-lapse videos and I barely have to edit the contrast, clarity and colors when using this lens.

Macro / Close focus

The Laowa 7.5mm MFT has a really close minimum focus distance. Combined with the widest aperture of f/2, it's possible to get really 'macro' like shots with a shallow depth of field. Personally I haven’t used the shallow depth of field much for video, but for photography it could be a fun factor to play with.


Contact

Following a Bachelor degree in New Media & Digital Culture at Utrecht University, I have developed a passion for filmmaking. Individually and through various creative agencies I have worked for brands such as Tesla, Samsung, and MX3D. Together with fellow filmmakers, I have worked on set for short films and independent documentaries.

Besides filmmaking, I'm passionate about music production and playing the Sitar - an Indian string instrument. I try to live a simple, sustainable and minimalist lifestyle.

E-mail: info@jaspertermors.nl

Phone: +31 (0)6 39 12 62 39

KVK: 62606581

BTW: NL002287917B77