Digital Cameras

Laowa's wild macro probe lens gives you a wide-angle bug's-eye view

Laowa's wild macro probe lens ...
The weirdest lens we've seen in a very long time
The weirdest lens we've seen in a very long time
View 11 Images
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: magnification range
1/11
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: magnification range
This Laowa lens vs a traditional macro: not better per se, but vastly different
2/11
This Laowa lens vs a traditional macro: not better per se, but vastly different
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: looks absolutely bizarre
3/11
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: looks absolutely bizarre
The weirdest lens we've seen in a very long time
4/11
The weirdest lens we've seen in a very long time
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: gives the impression that you're 100 times smaller and you've got a tiny camera with a 24mm lens
5/11
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: gives the impression that you're 100 times smaller and you've got a tiny camera with a 24mm lens
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: EF, F, FE and PL mount versions are available)
6/11
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: EF, F, FE and PL mount versions are available)
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: built-in LED ring light
7/11
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: built-in LED ring light
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: a hair over a pound in weight
8/11
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: a hair over a pound in weight
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: manual magnification and aperture rings
9/11
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: manual magnification and aperture rings
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: 27 optical elements in 19 groups
10/11
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: 27 optical elements in 19 groups
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: 16 inches of perspective-changing brilliance
11/11
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: 16 inches of perspective-changing brilliance

This is one of the weirdest and most extraordinary new camera lenses we've ever seen. Laowa's 24 mm f/14 probe lens looks bizarre, works like nothing else we've come across, and offers a truly immersive and endlessly fascinating way to experience and document the world at the microscopic level.

The vast majority of macro lenses offer long focal lengths – typically 60 mm and upward – and razor-thin depth of field. This gives them a terrific ability to isolate subjects and obliterate the background into bokeh. But that's the opposite of what Laowa has gone for with its outrageous new probe lens.

This crazy magic wand of a thing makes the background part of the story, with a wide-angle 24-mm perspective and an f/14 aperture that keeps a lot more of the background visible. The creators call it a "bug's eye view," and it's hard to think of a better way to put it.

Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: magnification range
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: magnification range

With a minimum focusing distance of just 2 cm (0.8 in), and a 40-cm-long (16 in) probe of a barrel, you can stick this bad boy right into a pile of ants and get a magnificent idea of what their world feels like. A 2:1 max magnification can show details that simply aren't visible to the naked eye.

What's more, it's waterproof, so you can take the same perspective and apply it underwater. Or nudge it through a salad to let a viewer have the experience of walking through a cathedral of lettuce. Because shooting in tight spots like these, with a narrow aperture, is going to cause lighting challenges, it's also got its own LED ring light on the end.

Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: 16 inches of perspective-changing brilliance
Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Macro Lens: 16 inches of perspective-changing brilliance

The Laowa probe lens weighs a very reasonable 474 g (1.04 lb) and comes with your choice of Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony FE or cinema PL mounts for full-frame or APS-C cameras. We're a little disappointed there's not a similar gadget for micro 4/3rds cameras with a similar field of view; pairing something like this with the detail and slow motion capabilities of a Panasonic GH5, for example, would get you some truly special shots.

It's up on Kickstarter now at a price of US$1,299, or US$200 more for the PL mount cinema version. Retail will reportedly be US$1,499 once they're out of crowdfunding. The campaign has already blasted though its goal with nearly a month left to run. Deliveries are slated to begin from next month.

Now, you've read enough, time for the main event: check out what this thing can do in the videos below.

Source: Laowa/Kickstarter

Revolutionize Macro Videography: Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Lens

Behind the Scenes of Creative Shot | Laowa 24mm f/14 | by Modernist Cursine

'Inside' | Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe | by Clemens Wirth

Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Lens Footage: Mouse Sequence (Credit to Alex Jones)

1 comment
klavaza
The return of the return of things to come. A similar lens was developed and used for the Nalcom FTL Super 8mm cameras, back in the 70s. BTW, it was for underwater use too! https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/shinkor-underwater-10mm-lens-nalcom-218648357