Laowa 85mm f/5.6 2x Ultra Macro APO - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published December 2021


Laowa is playing it fancy again - not in terms of speed or focal length but in making things as small as possible. This time they surprised us with the Laowa 85mm f/5.6 2x Ultra Marco APO, a full-format lens for mirrorless systems only. And it is tiny with a length of just 81mm and a weight of merely 291g (to 310g depending on the target system). Some may frown upon the thought of an f/5.6 lens but at least for macro photography, it makes absolute sense. Anything faster than this is more on the exotic side in the scope of this purpose. On the downside, it is less useful for generic applications. e.g. A more conventional 100mm f/2.8 is also often good enough for portraits unless you are really ambitious whereas you wouldn't really use the Laowa lens for this purpose. Price-wise, the Laowa is relatively expensive at $449-499 (USD) - this is about the same as its DSLR-centric, in-house cousin, the 100mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO. The 100mm f/2.8 is, however, twice as heavy and twice as long.
As far as build quality is concerned, the 85mm f/5.6 2x Ultra Marco APO is similar to other Laowa lenses that we tested so far. It's an all-metal construction with a very smooth focus ring and a "clicked" aperture ring (full stops only). The lens uses an inner focusing system thus the physical length remains the same across all focus distances. Please note, however, that the focal length changes towards shorter focus distances - this is typical for such a design. While it certainly feels sturdy, it's worth noting that there is no weather-sealing. A barrel-shaped lens hood is provided.
Unfortunately, the Laowa lens is still all-manual - thus there is no AF, no camera-controlled aperture, and no EXIF data. For standard photography, this may be an annoyance but it's usually not a showstopper for macro photographers.
Optical construction13 elements in 9 groups inc 3x ED elements
Number of aperture blades7
min. focus distance0.163m (max. object magnification 2:1)
Filter size46mm
Hoodbarrel-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)
Other features-
MountSony FE as tested, (Canon RF, Leica M, Nikon Z)

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