Laowa macro choice: 15mm fm4. 5 (1x) or... 100mm f/2.8 (2x)

Developing a lust for an alternative to extension tubes and reversers. Been kinda drooling over the almost-affordable possibilities of a couple of Laowas for my Sony A6000. Anyone out there have any real field experience with these?

I have to admit, I love the idea of a wide angle 1x. I mean, catching the back story, literally and optically. On the other hand, a 2x with great glass too…

And no, manuals are no problem for me. And the subC sensor on the old alpha is actually arguably a better match with these.


I have the 100mm f2.8 2x and honestly I hardly ever use it. I find it unwieldy and I’m not satisfied with the image quality.

I vastly prefer the Sigma Art 70m f2.8 macro. They have a 105mm Art out now, but at the time I got the 70mm they didn’t. I’d strongly suggest looking into either of these lenses instead.

The cameras I’m using are an a6500 and an a7iii.

That said, I do know people who like the 100mm Laowa.

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I’ve recently bought the Laowa 60mm (full manual) and love it, although the focussing distance is a bit too close for flighty insects and such like. I did consider the 100mm but as I already use the Sigma 105mm, I felt it would be repetition. Having the possibility of going from infinity to 2x in a twist is amazing, althought the 2x can be a bit difficult to use in the field. It really needs focus stacking to get the best results. The 15mm is intriguing, but would be rather more of an “effect” lens than a working lens for documentation or identification purposes.


If you’re looking for your first quality macro, I think the Laowa 60mm is the best all-rounder.

A wide 1x would be a lot of fun though, just less versatile. I’ve been using the L.60mm for a year and love it to bits.


I’ve been using the Sony 30mm macro on the A6000 for a few years and get some really decent photos from it. I’ve been really considering one of the Laowas though just to upgrade magnification. The SEL30M35 is fine for larger insects and even cropping down for some smaller stuff but it’s too wide for really detailed photos of small subjects. The thing that might annoy me with the Laowa is not being able to use the DMF focus feature on the A6000 which is incredibly useful for getting the focus right in macro shots.

I did a macro run with Laowa 100mm last year. very nice image, great color control, and handles well, focus throw a tad long. Ultimately I returned it because of short working distance at 2x, just 2 to 3 inches, not very practical in the field. 2x TC gets me 2x repro without losing any working distance.

few results from the field test.

all the July 31st 2021 observations were shot with Laowa 100 2x, Sony A7ii handheld.

Currently I use Sigma 150mm Macro
Have used various 100 versions besides Laowa, all shooting full manual.

  • Micro Nikkor 105mm AF-D, 90s. Sharp and compact, light, noticeable axial chroma. 2~300 on Ebay
  • Vivtar Series 1 105 Macro, 90s. Slightly less sharp, little less axial chroma, heavier 1~200 on ebay
  • Pentax-FA 645 120mm Macro, Sharp, heavier, axial chroma similar to Micro Nikkor. 2~300 on ebay
  • Tamron 180mm Macro, sharp, heavy, less axial chroma. 3~500 on ebay

Do you know how much this camera costs? I’m not in a position right now to make any large purchases but when I’m stable later on I’d really like to invest in a better camera than what I have now (a little digital camera from almost a decade ago)

I have the 15 mm wide angle (older version) and 25 mm ultra macro. Both are very hard to use for different reasons. I have difficulty getting things in focus for the 15 mm. It does have a cool visual, but I tend to have to take a lot more shots with it to get something I am okay with.

If possible, I’d recommend trying to rent it from somewhere first and see if you like it. I was surprised to find that a few local camera shops near me had a several different laowas that I could try. You might be able to do the same?

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I use a Laowa 25mm and love it. The image quality consistently blows me away. I also use an older Sigma 105mm for more standard macro…but the image quality is nowhere near as good overall imo. Great to have both lenses to cover different subject matter though. Not read much about the Laowa 15mm wide angle… sounds interesting, be curious to see results.

Looks like about $600 without a lens. Digital Photography Review has a nice camera comparison tool if you’re trying to figure out how to upgrade- if you’re using an older digital camera, you don’t necessarily need to jump to something brand-new and expensive, even older models might be an upgrade.

I upgraded to a Canon PowerShot G15 after my ancient digital camera, for example, and used that for about a year to get a feel for where it wasn’t quite fitting my needs (mostly on telephoto for birds and on macro for truly tiny stuff). It’s still a really nice, lightweight camera that I intend to continue using when I’m on outings and want something that’s easily packed.

Thanks for that info. The more I think of it, the more appealing a solution the 60mm seems to me too-- especially as a field lens.

Yeah, I’m beginning to think this is a better overall choice. Thanks. Oh, and anthonywalton? We’re talking about lenses, not cameras. But the good news is that the lenses we’re discussing seem to fit most of the popular mounts.

malisaspring? Renting first is a great idea. If I can find one. The more specialised stuff, like macro lenses, seem only available as special orders from the stores around here. Time to get in touch with my pro photography friends…

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