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Laowa launches 50mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO for Micro Four Thirds

Laowa 50mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO
(Image credit: Laowa)

Laowa is a specialist in ultra-wide-angle primes and macro lenses, and this 2x Ultra Macro lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras has a couple of tricks up its sleeve.

First, Laowa says it’s the first 2x macro lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras. In principle, this means it can reproduce objects on the sensor surface at twice their real-world size to offer huge levels of magnification on cameras like the Olympus PEN and OM-D series, and Panasonic’s Lumix G cameras.

The second bit of news is that this lens contains a CPU and a motor to allow the camera body to control the lens aperture. This sounds like something we take for granted these days, but Laowa lenses have traditionally been mechanical-only, manual lenses that don’t communicate with the camera body at all.

Laowa 50mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO

(Image credit: Laowa)

This CPU means that the lens can also transmit EXIF lens data back to the camera, which will then be embedded in the image file. Now, when you examine the photo on your computer, you shouldn’t see blank spaces where the lens and aperture should be.

The other advantage of the CPU is that when you turn the focus ring, this should trigger the viewfinder/LCD magnifier on the camera.

Laowa 50mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO

If you don't like spiders, look away now. Oh, too late. Laowa 50mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO sample image. © Nicky Bay (Image credit: Laowa/Nicky Bay)

Laowa 50mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO

Laowa 50mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO sample image. © Paul Harcourt Davies (Image credit: Laowa/Paul Harcourt Davies)

Optical design

The ‘APO’ in the lens name indicates that Laowa has used an apochromatic lens design to minimise chromatic aberration across the frame, using a similar optical formulation to its existing 65mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO APS-C lens.

Laowa lenses may be simple mechanically, but they are optically sophisticated, and this one has 14 elements in 10 groups, including three ED (extra low dispersion) glass elements in a design aimed at eliminating both lateral and longitudinal chromatic aberration (also called ‘bokeh fringing’).

The new lens will also focus to infinity, and Laowa says its f/2.8 maximum aperture and 100mm effective focal length would make it a good portrait lens too. It has an internal focus mechanism so that it doesn’t change in length at different focus distances, and it’s 79mm long and weighs just 240g.

The Laowa launches 50mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO is available to order now and costs $399.

Read more:

Best macro lenses
Best Micro Four Thirds lenses
How to choose a macro lens
How to use focus stacking

Rod Lawton

Rod is the Group Reviews editor for Digital Camera World and across Future's entire photography portfolio. Previously he has been Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar. He has been writing about digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. 

Rod's near-encyclopedic knowledge of cameras both old and new makes him an invaluable resource, whether we need to ask a question about transparencies or the latest X-Trans sensor. He owns all manner of cameras, from Nikon DSLRs through Olympus, Sony and Fujifilm bodies, and on any given day you'll see him using kit from just about every manufacturer.