Laowa Argus 33mm f/0.95 CF APO - Review / Lens Test
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha/NEX (APS-C)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published February 2022


There is a general notion that full-format is the way to go for shallow depth-of-field photography. Of course, there have been many attempts to defy the limitations of smaller formats with f/1.4 and f/1.2 lenses. However, even this isn't enough for some smaller Chinese players. Notably, Laowa got serious about it with a set of f/0.95 "Argus"-branded lenses. Now, in all honesty - lenses around the f/1 mark tend to be relatively poor in terms of performance - or let's call it "full of character," as Youtubers describe it. The new Laowa Argus 33mm f/0.95 CF APO may be a little different, though. The name contains the "magical" word APO which points towards a high correction of optical defects. So let's find out whether this is more than just marketing-speak. Priced at $500USD, the Laowa lens is also ambitiously positioned for a fully manual lens. It is available for all APS-C format mirrorless systems.

Laowa has lifted the build quality of their lenses to pretty high standards over the last few years, and this also applies to the Argus. The lens barrel is entirely made of metal with a nicely dampened focus ring and a step-less aperture ring. There is no weather sealing, but the internal focus mechanism helps against the elements to some degree, at least. It's not a tiny lens and quite heavy at 580g. A curious little detail is the provided square-ish-shaped lens hood and the accompanying slide-in lens cap (which is slightly shaky when attached). While not unique, it is a rare sight; we quite like it.

As mentioned, the Argus is a fully manual lens so there's no EXIF data, no camera-controlled aperture and, of course, no autofocusing. Manual focusing is very nice, thanks to a very long focus throw. Video makers will undoubtedly appreciate this.

Equivalent focal length (full-format)"50mm"
Equivalent aperture (depth-of-field, full-format)"f/1.45"
Optical construction14 elements in 9 groups inc. 2xED, 1x aspherical, 3xUHR elements
Number of aperture blades9
min. focus distance0.35m (max. magnification 1:?)
Filter size62mm
Hoodsquare-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)
Other features-
MountsFujifilm X, Sony E, Canon M/R, Nikon Z

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