The rendering style of the Laowa Argus 28mm f 1.2 FF lens, is clearly unique. I have absolutely no problem with the soft-ish sharpness at close range (0,5 meter) at wide open aperture ƒ 1.2

Because there is enough sharpness to work with still - and the result you see in the roses and flowers above. For me, that is convincing for the work I do (and like). With a little bit Topaz Photo AI, you can even enhance micro details even further making it look stunning.

Or in simple words: it works very well.


Pretty sharp corners at ƒ2

It should be noted that the lens is very sharp even in the corners when you stop down a little bit ! The Laowa Argus 28/1.2 gets very quickly sharp.

I think Laowa pulled off a real unique sleeper lens here !


Minimum focus: portraits vs flowers

I have noticed that the minimum focus of 0.5 meter more than enough for portraits (often too close, actually) - but for flowers, i sometimes miss that the lens isn't focusing closer.

I guess, that a minimal extender of let's say 11-13 mm between lens and camera, could solve that problem - albeit I do not know how much the optical quality drops when going closer than 0.5 meter.


Close match:
Marumi +3 achromat close-up lens

Don't use an extension ring/spacer. I tested with 13 mm extender... and uh - it is waaaay too close. Even at when the lens was set at infinity, it was far too close. Kind of Macro close.

Instead used a Marumi achromat close-up lens +3 in strength, giving it the perfect close-up performance, without being too close. The designation of "achromat", ensures that you get high quality in details despite using a close-up lens. Don't use those dirt cheap single glass element close-up lenses... they degrade the quality of your lens considerably, introducing blurry corners and borders, and details look fuzzy outlined with strong color fringing.

The lens diameter of the Laowa Argus 28/1.2 is 62 Ø mm - therefore a 62 Ø mm Marumi +3 close-up lens achromat will most likely give you dark corners - because it is a thick lens.

Better would be a 67 Ø or 77 Ø mm Marumi +3 achromat, which you can adapt with help of step-up rings 62 mm --> 77 mm. Now, you get no extra vignetting. Luckily i had a 77 Ø at hand in one of my drawers. Notice also, that you may have to add a wide angle lens shade in order to keep stray light at bay.


For me a better match: a +2 macro close-up lens

Actually, I would prefer a moderate 1.5x or 2x macro close up lens. Just enough to get a tiny notch closer. Even +3 can be at times a bit too close. Marumi has no +2 strength, so you have to look among other vendors who maybe make a achromat close-up lens that is less strong. As I said before, i am not looking into macro-like images. I just want to reduce the 0.5 meter min focus distance, getting a little bit closer.


Marumi +3 performance at ƒ1.2

This is how the Marumi +3 close up lens performs on the Laowa Argus 28 mm f 1.2 lens, at wide open aperture ƒ1.2 set to minimum focus 0.5 meter (image 1), and in the second photo (2), set to infinity.

I think it is pretty good. However, in real life, outside, things are not this still and pretty. So you may easily get some blur, because it is easy to shake handheld, or to miss the exact focus.


The Marumi achromat +3 acts like a natural extension of the somewhat limited, original min focus distance of 50 cm, now covering a range from 35 cm down to 14 cm. Still a bit too close for what I wish to do: To reduce the min focal distance just a tiny notch.


If you put a 13 mm extension ring... *urrk*

between the lens and camera (without close up lens, I mean), it gets way too close for my taste (and I would use a different lens for that kind of photography). But that is what it looks like - at max focus distance with aperture ƒ1.2 and a 13 mm extension ring, and the lens scale set to "infinity".

If you are extremely romantically inclined - this might actually work with special, dreamy close up motives. You can of course modulate the dreamy halo effect, lessen the effect by stopping the lens down. (I did not test the effect and optical performance stopped down, because it didn't really interest me)

After all, going this close with a 28 mm fullframe lens, was not my goal. Instead; I love the Marumi results. They give me exactly that little extra closer range... And the results are superb, even at the extreme bright aperture of ƒ 1.2 - still rendering details nicely sharp. And you can fine tune the detail sharpness further with Topaz Photo AI.

What is there not to like ?


Extreme corners - very slight magenta

The Laowa Argus 28/1.2 (as with the Canon RF 28/2.8) shows a weak tint of magenta in the extreme corners, similar to what the Canon RF 28/2.8 does. In cloudy / overcast skies - this becomes more visible to the sensitive eye, with both lenses. Or when you have neutral gray background... turning a bit purple/magenta. Which can be corrected in Photoshop / Camera RAW - but takes a couple extra steps.


Strong vignetting in the corners

vignetting is strong wide open at ƒ1.2, even stopped down it diminishes slowly.



Don't take my word for it - just yet

The thing with new lenses is that - I am still in the honeymoon phase.

It easy to over estimate a lens in too positive terms - the aaah's and oooh's. When things settle down, one starts to get to know a lens in depths; its weaknesses and strengths. It's quirks. At this stage i am biased, because i truly love this type of rendering style - so I've already taken "side", so to speak.

It is true, that i bought the lens, knowing that it had character. And i suspected that it has more character than indicated (and i was right).

One thing is for sure - it is far sharper than you would expect, even at wide open aperture ƒ1.2, and especially when you stop it down a little - it holds up remarkably well in the extreme corners.

The Chinese lenses are starting to step up their game in a more serious way...

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