It's nicknamed the 'Bokeh Dreamer', but is this Laowa lens worth purchasing for portraiture? Michael Topham puts this unique lens to the test
Laowa 105mm f/2 (T3.2) STF – Introduction
We’re always on the lookout for new and intriguing lenses to review, and one that caught our attention when it was announced earlier this year was the Laowa 105mm f/2 (T3.2) STF. Designed as a medium telephoto lens specifically for DSLR cameras with a full-frame sensor, it’s primarily intended for portraiture and is rather niche in that it’s one of only a few lenses to feature an apodization element, which promises to deliver superior bokeh rendering and pin-sharp images.
For those wondering what STF stands for in the lens name, it refers to Smooth Trans Focus – a lens design that’s associated with producing a high level of sharpness at the plane of focus, and at the same time gradually melting away to form a soft, natural and beautifully diffused out-of-focus rendition. There are very few lenses that feature an apodization element – the only others that spring to mind are the Sony 135mm f/2.8 (T4.5) STF and the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R APD. Unlike the Fuji lens, the Laowa is manual focus only: just like the 135mm f/2.8 (T4.5) STF Sony produces for the A-mount.