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Despite winter having barely started, blossoms have appeared on a tree in the garden, so a chance to put the Laowa 65mm f2.8 2x Macro into action. Blosom 1 Blosom 2 - this one was pushing close to the 2x magnification and it hasn't been cropped! Blosom 3 All shot with the above mentioned lens on a Fuji X-E3. Tripod and flash used, apertures around f/16-f/22 (not recorded obviously as the lens is totally manual).
Since switching from Nikon to Fuji, deciding on a suitable macro lens has been something that I have given a lot of thought to. On the Nikon system I had been using a Tamron SP90 which I have had for over 20 years, so the prospect of finding something new was a challenge. One of the objectives of my move to Fuji was building a compact system, so the size and price of the Fuji 80 macro was off-putting. The Fuji 60 macro was a little more tempting, but only goes to 0.5X. In the end, I decided to give the Laowa a try - it is manual focus only but does go to 2X! So what is it like? This isn't some cheap, second rate third party lens - even the box gives an impression of quality. The lens itself has a metal body and mount, even the included lens hood feels metallic. Size wise, it is taller but slimmer than the Fuji 18-55 zooms. It actually looks unusually slim, but I guess that is what you can manage when you don't have to fit circuit boards and motors around the outside of the optics. To start using it you have to dig into the Fuji menu system and set "Shoot without lens' to ON (On my X-E3, it is on the second page of "Button/Dial Settings" of the Setup menu (Wrench). Whilst in that menu, I also set the function button on the top panel to "Focus Check" so that I could access focus peaking. The focus peaking doesn't automatically appear when you twist the focus ring, because the camera obviously doesn't think there is a lens present. In that regard, there is no aperture setting visible in the view finder or recorded in the EXIF data. The focus feels smooth and takes just under 3/4 of a turn to get from 2:1 to infinity. The aperture ring clicks at the full stops but moves continuously between these stops - the stops aren't evenly spaced, they get closer as you stop down. So what does it look like? Red-back preparing dinner It looks pretty sharp and seems quite well behaved optically. I do need to remember not to drift in the lower shutter speeds I sometimes use with my other lenses as it doesn't have IS. And what about the 2X? 2X macro That is a crop from the icon on my iPad screen - the icon was about 12mm (0.5") wide and the published spec of the screen is 264 pixels per inch (although I'm not sure if that means each colour element or the combination of the three colours. A couple of other things - I stuck the 16mm extension tube on and that looks like it pushes the magnification up to approximately 2.4X. Also tried it with an R72 infra-red filter and, good news, no hot spot. Hopefully over the weekend, I'll get to some more time to put it through it's paces.