Andy Westlake tests an intriguing lens that mixes extreme wideangle macro with shift capability
Laowa LX FX 15mm f/4 Wide Angle 1:1 Macro review: Image quality
When it comes to image quality, the Laowa lens acquits itself pretty well. It is impressively sharp, even at close focusing distances, but the corners are inevitably a bit soft wide open, especially on full-frame cameras. However, in most cases I found image detail was limited more by slight focusing errors than by any flaw in the lens’s optics.
Chromatic aberration is visible as green and magenta fringing towards the corners of the frame, but isn’t overly objectionable. Likewise, while vignetting is obvious wide open, it becomes practically irrelevant from f/5.6 onwards. Flare is rarely too much of a problem, either, although like many wideangles the lens doesn’t particularly like having the light shine obliquely onto the front element.
The lens’s biggest flaw overall is distortion, which is pronounced on both APS-C and full-frame cameras. On the smaller format it manifests as fairly straightforward barrel-type bending of straight lines, but on full frame it’s rather more complex with pincushion-like re-correction into the corners.