Laowa 35mm F0.95 Argus Image Gallery
September 13th, 2021
Lenses with huge maximum apertures have become a little more common in recent years as newer technologies paired with a little more room for experimentation due to the proliferation of mirrorless cameras. Mirrorless cameras have proven to be more accessible to third party brands (particularly those that produce manual focus lenses) and also have many more manual focus aids. Typically, however, those massive maximum apertures are found on APS-C lenses, where the smaller sensor and image circle is easier to engineer for. Laowa has already gone there on APS-C with the Laowa 33mm F0.95 Argus APO lens. But now they have taken the big step and tackled a full frame massive aperture 35mm lens – the Laowa 35mm F0.95 Argus (which we’ll call the Argus 35 for brevity). *The tests and the photos shown in this review have been taken on a 45 MP Canon EOS R5.
This is a huge engineering challenge. Developing a functional lens with this large of a maximum aperture is incredibly difficult. I once had a chance to review the extremely rare and expensive Canon EF 50mm F1.0L, one of the few autofocusing lenses with a maximum aperture that large. While the technical accomplishment of that lens was impressive (and spawned the much more practical F1.2 50mm and 85mm lenses), the lens itself was not particularly practical, and, frankly, it was not an easy lens to use. It was more of a novelty to me. The Argus 35 has a larger aperture still, as F0.95 is about 1 and 1/6th stops faster than F1.4 (the typical large aperture for a professional 35mm lens). That means that this lens can let in more than twice as much light as, say, my Canon EF 35mm F1.4L II lens. On a practical level, that means that in a lighting situation where the Argus 35 requires a 1/100th shutter speed, an F1.4 lens would be close to 1/40th second. This could be significant in very low light situations. It also means that the Argus is going to be capable of some massive subject isolation when you’re close to your subject, like above. Depth of field is tiny!
This can also lead to some rather stunning subjective isolation even a little further away like in this shot, where the wide angle of view is also accompanied by only Loki’s head being in focus:
The Argus 35 is being released in Canon RF, Nikon Z, and Sony FE mounts. I requested a Canon RF mount loaner, mostly because Sony sees so many more releases and I needed a reason to use my lovely Canon EOS R5 for a change!
The challenge for Laowa is going to be whether they’ve managed to produce a lens with some practical value to potential customers, or simply a novelty. Check out my text or video review for my thoughts on that, or just check out the pretty photos from this intriguing new optical option.
Thanks to Laowa for getting me a prerelease loaner of the lens. As always, this is a completely independent review.
Photos of the Argus 35
Photos taken with the Laowa 35mm F0.95 Argus
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