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A Look at the Venus Optics Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO Lens

Macro lenses with short telephoto focal lengths are fantastically useful, capable of offering a glimpse into an amazing world all around us and pulling double duty as razor-sharp portrait options. The Venus Optics Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO offers a particularly high magnification ratio even by macro standards, and this awesome video takes a look at what you can create with it in the field. 

Coming to you from Courtney Victoria, this great video takes a look at the Venus Optics Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO lens. At $449 the 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro is quite affordable, and that 2x magnification factor offers a lot of power for macro photographers. Its most notable features include:

  • Two low dispersion elements for reduced chromatic aberrations
  • 13-blade diaphragm for particularly smooth bokeh
  • 9.7-inch minimum focusing distance (2:1 maximum magnification)
  • Focus distance and depth of field scales

Perhaps the one drawback of the lens is the lack of autofocus, but for macro work, you will probably be manually focusing anyway, and with the manual focus aids built into modern mirrorless cameras, the task is certainly not as hard as it once was. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Victoria. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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Laowa makes a lot of niche lenses that provide usefulness that first party lensmakers refuse to provide. Yet I think that without autofocus, the interest in these lenses will flatten out or taper off.

I would love a 2x macro instead of the 1x macro 100mm that I have now. But I very much rely on autofocus for my macro photography because I am shooting very small critters that are alive and I am shooting handheld in awkward positions, so there is no way to hold the lens steady. Hence, autofocus in tracking mode is absolutely necessary. Sadly, I will have to stick with my current 100mm macro that only gives me 1x magnification, because this Laowa doesn't have AF. Bummed about that.

Where is the 2x 100mm that does have autofocus, and is capable of infinity focus, at this price point? Show it to me and I will buy it!

Why not buy a used Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens? Is it the too short near distance?

hey Richard

That's a good question. There are two reasons I don't go for the Canon 65mm macro:

1: The working distance is too close. I want a 100mm for photographing the eyeballs of live Geckos, Rattlesnakes, and Toads that are living in the wild, not in captive conditions. 100mm focal length lets me keep the lens a centimeter or so further back off of the eye, which is helpful because then the lens is less likely to block the ambient light that I depend on. Plus it is less likely to spook the critter and make it move away.

2: I am shifting away from Canon and toward Sony. Any lenses I buy from this point forward I want to be in the native Sony E mount.

Hey Tom, I have this lens and the lens is a very good performer with all the sharpness/resolution you'll ever need. I did miss having a lens with autofocus initially, but you actually get quite good, albeit after some investment, with focusing manually. If you set your focus distance and slowly move forward/back to nail critical focus its quite repeatable. I think autofocus would actually struggle at much more than something 1x, but who knows with how good modern cameras and lenses are today.

The autofocus 100mm lenses are a bit more of a versatile lens since they are also a favorite for portrait folks. I find autofocus more necessary with people since we can't seem to stand still, most lizards and bugs etc... they will remain motionless usually for a long enough time to get a few quick snaps.