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 photo and videography for roughly three months now and I’d like to share my experience.
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
Panasonic Leica 8-18mm f/2.8 - f/4
Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO
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
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.
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.
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 photo it could be a fun factor to play with.