Laowa Argus 33mm f/0.95 Review : “Competent and affordable lens within its niche”

Here is the latest in-depth review of Laowa Argus 33mm f/0.95 CF APO Lens for Sony E-mount. Opticallimits tested the Laowa Argus 33mm f/0.95 lens and below you can see their verdict :

Laowa Argus 33mm f/0.95 CF APO Lens for Sony E: $499 at B&HAdorama.

Venus Optics lenses are sold at Adorama and B&H.

The Laowa Argus 33mm f/0.95 CF APO is trying the seemingly impossible by providing shallow depth-of-field capabilities similar to full-format to APS-c class users. And, surprisingly, they succeeded in this quest – mostly at least. The optical performance is on a high level, even at maximum aperture. The broader center is sharp straight from f/0.95 and the borders can keep up nicely. Only the corners are a bit soft. The background contrast is slightly reduced at this setting but this can be boosted via an imaging tool. Stopping down to f/1.4 results in quite a lift in quality even in the corners, and the peak performance around f/2.8 is very impressive indeed. Image distortions are very low and nothing to worry about. As you might expect the vignetting is very high at large-aperture settings. Lateral and axial CAs are well controlled, although they aren’t entirely as absent as the “APO” designation may suggest. RSAs are also something to be aware of. The technical quality of the bokeh is a bit of a mixed bag. Depending on the camera that you use, out-of-focus highlights can suffer from an odd mechanical vignetting effect up to f/1.4 and there are imperfections in the general blur as well. However, this isn’t quite as obvious in real-life conditions simply because the lens can produce an immense amount of out-of-focus blur in the right conditions at least. Flare can also be a weak spot so better mount the lens hood when shooting.

The mechanical quality of the Argus lens is, again, impressive. The all-metal construction feels very reassuring and the dampened control rings are a joy to use. The internal focus mechanism is appreciated and we are also a fan of the new hood design. It’s not all glory, though, because there’s no electronic coupling thus also no AF and no weather sealing.

Unfortunately, the lack of AF will be a showstopper for many photographers. Thanks to focus magnification and peaking, the lens is certainly usable without but it is probably more aligned to video use. The clickless aperture ring is also pointing to this. Overall it’s a competent and affordable lens within its niche.

 Key Features:

  • Sony E Mount/APS-C Format
  • 49.5mm (35mm Equivalent)
  • Aperture Range: f/0.95 to f/11
  • 1 x ED Element, 1 x Aspherical Element
  • 3 x Ultra-High Refraction Elements
  • Long Focus Throw, Internal Focus Design
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 13.8″
  • Stepless Aperture Ring
  • Filter Size: 62mm
  • Aperture Blades: 9

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