We are seeing an increasing number of lens manufacturers making what are very good alternatives to the brand lenses. China based company Laowa is one of these relatively new players in the lens world.
In some cases, the lenses made by these companies are better and/ or offer something that is not available elsewhere. The Laowa 7.5mm f/2 lens is a case in point.
It's a tiny and well built manual focus lens designed for micro four thirds cameras (M43) - that is Olympus and Pansonic compact system cameras (CSCs).
There is no rectilinear M43 lens available that is as wide and fast. Those that come close are expensive wide-angle zoom lenses that are twice the price, size and weight. As such, the Laowa 7.5mm f/2 is clearly aimed at astrophotographers, as well as for architecture and landscapes.
The lens delivers where it counts most, in its excellent image quality. Pictures are sharp and there is impressive control over distortions that are so common in ultra-wide angle lenses, especially chromatic aberrations.
The fast f2 aperture is advantageous for astrophotography - M43 cameras typically suffer in low contrast light so any further light intake improves image quality.
Another bonus especially for landscape photographers and filmmakers is that the lens accepts threaded filters, which is unusual for such a wide angle lens.
Before you say Shut up and take my money, there are the downsides, mainly the handling.
I found its controls a little too tiny - the lens cap/ lens hood and aperture ring are all fiddly to manoeuvre.
It's manual focus only and it's very hard to see what is in focus because of the wide angle. As such, live view focus magnification becomes essential for accurate focusing.
The lens is not weather sealed either.
All being said, the Laowa 7.5mm f/2 lens serves a niche audience very well indeed. Nothing is as wide or fast. Its images are sharp and its price at just under £500 is reasonable.
To read more about the lens, please visit Photography Blog for my full review. Images below are all taken with the Laowa 7.5mm f/2 lens, attached to an Olympus OM-D E-M1.