If you’re into macro photography or videography, you may have heard of the Laowa 24mm Probe Lens by Venus Optics. It was the second most backed lens projects EVER on Kickstarter, and holds its resale value better than a lot of other lenses, with used Probes going for almost the same price as new ones online.
What makes the lens so awesome? Well, where do I even start? The 15.7 inch long lens is surprisingly well balanced for its size, and weighs less than a bottle of Coke. It looks like a rifle or something out of a sci-fi movie with its long, thin lens barrel, plus it comes with a sturdy, silver hard case that will solidify this feeling that you’re on a secret mission every time you take it out to shoot.
But it isn‘t just about the looks. The Probe Lens has some really incredible features, including the fact that the lower half of the lens is waterproof, which opens you up to truly endless possibilities, as this also means dusty environments or fine powders won‘t be an issue. The tip of the lens has a bulit-in LED ring that can be controlled with a switch or dimmer, meaning you can capture images in places normal lenses couldn’t dream of - tight holes and dark spaces that you couldn’t normally get light into at all.
The end of the lens also has such a small diameter, a teeny tiny 20mm, which allows you to really squeeze into places you wouldn‘t ever think a camera could go, and the 2cm focusing distance means you can get RIGHT up on your subject and take full advantage of the ability to capture unique and striking perspectives that you’ve never seen before. The 2:1 magnification the lens provides in combination with the other features opens up your world to capturing stills and videos that look truly unreal. Have you ever wanted a slider shot through the center of a donut? Pulling out of a tall champagne glass as it pours? Ever wanted to explore inside a termite mound? Now you actually can.
What else rocks about this lens? How about the 84.1 degree viewing angle for wide shots? The incredible depth of field it is able to capture? The fact that you can focus to infinity and capture a tiny beetle from an inch away, while retaining its environment in the background? You may have to purchase some extra lighting, but the amazingly detailed images that this lens is able to create makes it all worth it, and it shows in both wildlife and studio settings. The lens focus and aperture are both fully manual, but have a beautifully smooth throw, and the length means you can stay a good distance from flighty subjects without disturbing them, giving you time to adjust for the exact image you want. There is a bit of color shift that creates a slightly cinematic effect, and if you’re not into that, it’s still pretty easy to adjust in post.
It definitely takes some practice to master this lens, but if macro is your thing, it is absolutely worth the time and money you will invest. The creative possibilities with the Probe will make your wildest ideas come true, and you’ll quickly see a huge shift in the quality of your shots. The cinema version of the lens comes with EF or PL mounts, while the standard version is available with EF, F, FE, or K mounts. Besides that, the only real difference between the two models is that the cinema version also comes with follow focus gears installed for the focus and aperture.
Overall, the Laowa 24mm Probe Lens quickly became our favorite lens with the gorgeous character it was able to lend to our subjects. The perspective gave us shots that looked out of this world - many of them seem almost 3D rendered, because they‘re such close and small images that you simply cannot create with other lenses. Does it take a little getting used to? Of course, but what lens doesn’t, especially with macro? We believe that our equipment and gear is all an investment in our imaginations, and when you refuse to limit your imagination, you can create and accomplish anything.
Check out the lens on Amazon - full disclosure, this is an affiliate link, any purchases made through it will help support us, but we wrote this article because we believe in this lens - not for the money!