Hands-on With the Laowa Argus 33mm f/0.95 APO

Lenses are getting faster and cheaper, and Laowa's newest prime is really pushing that to the limit! Check out this hands-on review with example images.

The idea of a 33mm f/0.95 lens 10 years ago would have had us all drooling and questioning if it was truly possible or at least cost-effective for the manufacturer. As a consequence, we would have likely expected a huge price tag attached. Laowa has been overcoming that barrier of entry for interesting and desirable lenses for some time now, but this newest addition to their line-up is pushing the bar even for them.

The Laowa Argus 33mm f/0.95 CF APO is a prime lens for Fujifilm X mount, Sony E mount, Nikon Z mount, and Canon RF mount. Fuji and Sony's versions will be shipping early this month, with Nikon and Canon's coming a few weeks later. The big selling point for this lens is, of course, its speed. f/0.95 is tremendously quick for a lens and will allow the shallowest depth of field, which can open up some creative opportunities. As it is a lens for crop sensors, the focal length is a full frame equivalent of 49.5mm, so a nifty-fifty length. For anyone curious as to what the APO stands for, it is "Apochromatic Optical Design" and it drastically reduces chromatic aberration; comparisons can be seen here.

Now comes the part where I give with one hand and take away with the other. The price of this lens is a staggering $499. Anyone who is experienced in this industry will know that a lens that quick and that cheap can only have one downside, and it is exactly what you think it is. The Argus is manual focus only, but with modern focus assistance in cameras, that isn't too much of a deterrent for most.

Rob Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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