Laowa 10mm f4 Review


Laowa calls the 10mm f4 lens their “cookie.” That means that it’s not quite a pancake, except it can really be considered one if you look at what’s available on the market. The Laowa 10mm f4 lens is also quite a fascinating lens to use. If you’re a fan of character, metal build quality, and some classic softness, we think that you’re going to love this lens. When you combine it with Fujifilm’s film simulations, it just gets even better.

The Laowa 10mm f4 is designed for APS-C sensors, and therefore it also means that only certain types of photographers will be reaching for these. And at only $299, it’s pretty difficult to beat what it offers.

The Big Picture

The Laowa 10mm f4 is a fantastic lens for the photographer who is really looking for a pancake lens of some sort. But it’s also for the photographer that wants character. You’ll get yummy bokeh, beautiful lens flare, and soft photos when you don’t stop the lens down. It’s pretty dreamy. However, I also don’t think this is a lens that every photographer needs. It’s also not weather resistant.

We’re giving the Laowa 10mm f4 four out of five stars. Want one? Check out the latest listings for more.

Pro

  • Metal build quality
  • Affordable price point
  • Creamy bokeh
  • Soft wide open
  • Beautiful lens flare

Cons

Gear Used

We tested the Laowa 10mm f4 (provided to us for loan) with the Fujifilm X Pro 3, which we purchased years ago.

Innovations

For all intents and purposes, the Laowa 10mm f4 isn’t exactly innovative. It’s the first of its kind that’s available to the Fujifilm X mount, but there’s nothing special about this lens except that it’s so incredibly small and lightweight.

Ergonomics

The Laowa 10mm f4 is a pretty slim and compact lens. They call it a cookie, but it’s more like a pancake in some ways. In fact, on Laowa’s website, it’s called a pancake too. To each their own I guess. It boasts a 37mm filter thread for what it’s worth.

On the top are the controls you really care about. There are aperture and focus controls. This lens doesn’t have any electronics in it, so with that said, it makes the most sense on a Fuji lens because of how they’re used.

You’ll also use the distance scale smacked right into the middle like the cream of an Oreo cookie.

Build Quality

The Laowa 10mm f4 isn’t weather resistant at all. But it is made of metal, and it’s very small. That, and the aperture ring clicks. But otherwise, there isn’t a whole lot else to this lens. In the hand, and attached to the Fujifilm X Pro 3, this lens will make the camera feel like an X100V. Your fingers will clap onto it pretty easily. In real life use though, I don’t think that will really matter as this lens is too small for you to truly care about cradling it.

Ease of Use

I don’t think this is the easiest lens to use if you’re newer to photography. You have to be patient and there is no autofocus. Further, it also doesn’t have focus contacts for communication. Instead, your camera will look at the scene and try to figure out if something is in focus or not.

Focusing

There’s surely something a bit odd about focusing with the Laowa 10mm f4. Wide open, it’s very soft. So even on the X Pro 3 when you have the focus peaking set to high, it can be tough for it to get something in focus. Instead, you’ll need to use the magnify function in the EVF mode. Otherwise, my favorite way of doing this is using the OVF and setting it to picture-in-picture mode. Then the center or focusing point gets magnified and focus peaking is applied. Unfortunately, there are no focusing contacts on this lens, so that makes it a bit more difficult to use as a result.

Image Quality

This is one of the most wonderful things about the Laowa 10mm f4: the image quality is truly awesome, but you have to work for it. Wide open, it’s very soft. But stopped down a bit, this lens starts to sharpen up. It also boasts beautiful lens flare, colors, etc. Of course, Fujifilm’s colors also surely help out here.

Bokeh

The bokeh from the Laowa 10mm f4 isn’t something that you’re going to buy it for. However, I’ll be transparent and state that for food photography, it can be pretty decent. It’s such a wide focal length that when you focus closely on a subject, you’ll still see a very grand scale to things. Still, it’s nothing special.

Color Rendition

Colors from the Laowa 10mm f4 lens can be pretty fantastic to look at. In the photo above, I shot with the Fujifilm Velvia Film simulation and no editing was done to the photo above. Look at those colors? I immediately felt like I was transported back 10 years ago to the OG Fuji cameras with a bit of softness. It’s going to make you nostalgic for sure if you’ve been shooting for as long as I have.

Lens Character

Well, look at this lens flare? I know a ton of folks who would sit there and say “oh no, we need to get rid of that.”

And I say, “Why?” So many lenses are clinical these days that having image quality like this at times is super enjoyable. Embrace the character.

Sharpness

Wide open, the Laowa 10mm f4 isn’t very sharp at all. But once you stop it down, it becomes a whole lot better.

Extra Image Samples

From day one, The Phobographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. They’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.

Unedited

Edited

Who Should Buy the Laowa 10mm f4?

The cool thing about the Laowa 10mm f4 is that it’s super affordable at only $299. And if you’re looking for a fun toy lens, then it’s worth the money. But it’s also pretty niche. It’s just for APS-C cameras and the softness wide-open makes it a bit difficult to work with. So who should get it? Honestly, any photographer that just wants to add some creativity to their camera bag should go for it.

Tech Specs

These were taken from Laowa’s website.

Specifications

Format

APS-C

Focal Distance

10mm

Aperture Range

f/4

Angle of View

109.3°

Lens Structure

12 elements in 8 groups
(4 ED elements)

Aperture Blades

5

Min. Shooting Distance

10cm

Max. Magnification

0.15x

Focusing

Manual (MF)

Filter Thread

Ø 37mm

Dimensions

About Ø 59.8mm * 25mm

Weight

About 130g

Mounts

Black & Silver version for all mounts:
Canon RF / Nikon Z / Sony E / L mount / Fuji X





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