Insane Magnification: A Review of the Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro Lens

Most dedicated macro lenses have a 1:1 maximum reproduction ratio, which means they can project an image of the subject on your camera's sensor up to the same size it is in real life. However, the Venus Optics Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro can project an image of your subject up to five times bigger than it is in real life, opening up an entirely new world of extreme macro photography. This great video review takes a look at the lens and the sort of performance and image quality you can expect from it in practice. 

Coming to you from Stefan Malloch, this outstanding video review takes a look at the Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro lens. While this is not the first lens with such capabilities (there is the Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5X, for example), it is both a rather rare option and, in this case, quite affordable. While using a traditional 1:1 macro lens opens up an entirely new creative world, moving up to one with 5x capabilities is like opening an entire world beyond that, though it does demand particularly sound technique. Nonetheless, with good execution and often, a bit of patience, you will be rewarded with uniquely compelling images rarely seen elsewhere. Check out the video above for Malloch's full thoughts on the lens. 

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8 Comments
jim hughes's picture

Ok, I like it, I want it. But... f2.8 is useless for macro and is probably just making this lens bigger and heavier.

Seth Silverstein's picture

Quite the contrary, f2.8 can be required in ultra-macro if wants to avoid image degradation due to diffraction. The effective f_stop is given by f_stop(1+M). Hence at a magnification of 5X at f2.8, the effective f_stop will be f17.

jim hughes's picture

Interesting, thanks.

Mun Chin's picture

I have both the 85mm 2x and this one but I hardly use the 85mm now. I am very much a beginner, only started a year ago and got into macro during the Covid lockdown and learned to and fro focussing. Was put off this lens by all the comments “not for beginners!” but jumped at a good deal and never looked back. You can easily say all macro is not for beginners. I only do handheld with moving insects. Paired with a really light camera (Sony A6000) and speedlight in one hand and an LED light in another, I do my best shooting at night with 20% sharp in the eyes success rate (forget about stacking with moving insects).

Eric Robinson's picture

He possibly was meaning someone new to photography. I would agree with his comments as Marco photography does require a whole set of new skills especially if you go down the photo stacking route using , say Helicon focus. The decision to use a rail or just move the focus point for example comes from experience and will make a huge difference to the quality of the final shot. Studio Marco and out in the field macro require totally different approaches and use different skills and techniques. I think a rank beginner would have serious problems as in my opinion you do need a reasonable amount of basic photographic knowledge to get successful shots and if things are not working out to determine why. Shooting manual at 5x magnification is not for the faint hearted that’s for sure. But… macro is fun but does require patience and perseverance.

Mun Chin's picture

I think this lens would only come to the notice of and interest someone who has already started in macro. I didn’t find it (at the 2.5:1) any more difficult than the 85mm 2:1 even with the closer focussing distance. I consider myself a rank beginner but I got into macro quickly and into this lens 6 months after I started photography. I think if you can do manual to and fro focussing, you can handle this lens. And I did not even understand focus peaking until recently, lol. It will take some time to finesse it. Then, going beyond 2.5:1 just gives so much more options. No more cropping!

Benoit .'s picture

I was extremely pleased that Stefan keeps warning people about this lens. This guys is doing everything one should when creating a review. Specific type of use, type of photographers who should use it. Nothing is generic and would bring confusion. He targets the proper reader and gives proper warning. Now he ranks in the top group in my list of people I could trust. Sadly, that list seem to shrinks as more and more people produce articles and videos.

Josh Koch's picture

How does this lens stack up against reversing the Laowa 15mm f/4 macro?