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Venus Optics Laowa STF 105mm F2.0 (T3.2)

Sharpness 
 10.0
Aberrations 
 10.0
Bokeh 
 9.0
Handling 
 9.0
Value 
 10.0
Reviews Views Date of last review
1 6,438 Thu March 22, 2018
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $599.00 9.00
Venus Optics Laowa STF 105mm F2.0 (T3.2)

Venus Optics Laowa STF 105mm F2.0 (T3.2)
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Venus Optics Laowa STF 105mm F2.0 (T3.2)
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Venus Optics Laowa STF 105mm F2.0 (T3.2)
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Venus Optics Laowa STF 105mm F2.0 (T3.2) Venus Optics Laowa STF 105mm F2.0 (T3.2)
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Description:

Venus Optics calls this 105mm short telephoto lens the Bokeh Dreamer claiming that the lens provides a silky smooth Bokeh. This is achieved through a unique STF (Smooth Trans Focus) optical design which incorporates an apodization (APD) element next to the aperture which resembles the function of an ND filter. It gradually reduces the amount of light transmitted towards the periphery to produce a soft, natural and beautifully diffused out-of-focus rendition. The lens thus has two aperture rings: The traditional one from F2 to F22 (9 blades), and a second one controlling the peripheral trans focus effect with T-stop values from T3.2 to T8 (14 blades).


Venus Optics Laowa 105mm F2 STF
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Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (no A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 9 blades (rounded)
Optics
11 elements, 8 groups
Mount Variant
K
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F2
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
Manual
Min. Focus
90 cm
Max. Magnification
0.16x
Filter Size
67 mm
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 15.6 ° / 13 °
Full frame: 23.3 ° / 19.5 °
Hood
Included
Case
Lens Cap
Included
Coating
Multi-coated
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Soft Focus
Diam x Length
76x99 mm (3x3.9 in.)
Weight
745 g (26.3 oz.)
Production Years
(in production)
Pricing
$499 USD current price
Reviews
User reviews
Notes
Adjustable peripheral soft focus effect

Buy Lens: Buy the Venus Optics Laowa STF 105mm F2.0 (T3.2)
Mount Type: Pentax K



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Site Supporter

Registered: April, 2015
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Posts: 2,311

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 22, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $599.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Crazy sharp, no CA colored fringing, lovely bokeh
Cons: Not the 3D pop or excellent color I get with premium lenses
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: k1   

The Laowa 105mm STF lens has the nickname "The Bokeh Dreamer". Well, I thought that I'd put this so called Bokeh Dreamer to the test and compare it in an extensive "head-to-head" shootout against my all time favorite "bokeh" lens - my adapted Nikkkor DC 105mm f/2 lens (I adapted it with a Leitax adapter, took me a full day, Leitax says that this lens can not be adapted to K mount, it was extremely difficult to do and in adapting it I had to eliminate it's auto focus capabilities and permanently set it's aperture to f/2).

This Laowa STF lens is one of the sharpest lenses I have ever shot. The Nikkor DC 105/2 is known to be very sharp, but in my shootout, the Laowa STF clearly beat the Nikkor when it came to sharpness. Winner = Laowa

I shot high contrast edges in bright sunlight. The Nikkor had nasty colored fringing. The Laowa STF had none. Winner = Laowa

At f/2, the Nikkor has the absolute creamiest bokeh of any lens I have ever used (including my adapted, expensive Zeiss Milvus and Leica R lenses). At f/2 with a T/3.2 setting, the Laowa STF lens actually produces an out of focus blur that is a bit "blurrier" than the Nikkor lens. However, even at T/3.2 F/2, the Laowa's bokeh, while very nice and extremely out of focus does not quite match the creamy goodness of the Nikkor DC at f/2. Winner = Nikkor

The bokeh balls produced by the Nikkor are not pretty. The bokeh balls produced by the Laowa STF lens are maybe the best I've ever seen. So, if you are into smooth bokeh balls (specular highlights) buy the Laowa STF lens. Winner = Laowa

It's hard to describe the colors, but if I had to, I'd say the Nikkor colors are more on the cooler side, while the Laowa STF's colors are on the warmer side. Winner = Tie

I will keep the Laowa STF lens. I will use it when I need the sharpest possible image at this focal length. Also, I will use it whenever it's bright out and I have a subject with high contrast edges (e.g. tree branches against a bright sky). It has really nice bokeh blur and the best bokeh balls I have seen.

However, for shooting lower contrast scenes where I'm going for the ULTIMATE bokeh, I will shoot my Nikkor DC 105mm f/2 lens on my Pentax K1 camera. While the Laowa STF lens is advertized as "The Bokeh Dreamer", I've proven to myself that while the Laowa lens has very good (or maybe even excellent bokeh) its' bokeh is simply not as good as the best bokeh lens I've ever shot - the 105mm DC Nikkor lens. This should not be surprising because the Nikkor DC 105/2 lens costs double what the Laowa 105/2 STF lens costs (and the Nikkor is darned near impossible to adapt to Pentax K mount).

Overall, the Laowa 105/2 STF lens is crazy SHARP and has no CA colored fringing on high contrast edges. But this Laowa's colors and 3D depth are not quite up to the wonderful colors and 3D depth I get from the best premium lenses. I would not go so far as to say this Laowa's rendition is sterile or clinical, but compared to my Zeiss and Leica lenses, I'd say that this Laowa's rendering is maybe a bit on the sterile/clinical side. But if you are into bokeh (especially bokeh balls) and don't want to spend over $1000 USD for a fast/premium/prime lens, then this lens should be considered because its' unique STF feature does indeed create excellent (though not world class) bokeh with exceptional bokeh balls.
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