Say that 5 times fast! We’re going to go over the Laowa 24m Macro Probe Lens. There are a lot of funky things about it, and some really unique things you can do with it.
Going over the exterior of the lens, it has a full metal body, and feels super durable and well built. It has a smooth aperture ring running from f/14-f/40, and a focus ring. It weighs just under 1lb and measures in at about 1.5ft long- so for as long and well built as the lens is, it isn’t that heavy.
We tested out the Sony E mount version of this lens, but it also comes in Canon EF, Nikon F, or PL mounts. On the front of the lens there is a ring of LED lights surrounding the front glass. These are powered by a USB port near the back of the lens.
Since the lens only opens up to an f/14, and stops down all the way to f/40, this extra light is super helpful depending on your shooting setup. Inside the lens there are 7 aperture blades, so you won’t be getting smooth circular bokeh (although, being stopped down to f/14 at, there won’t be crazy amounts of bokeh anyways).
The front of the lens is completely submergible, from the front of the lens to the USB port. The close focus on this lens is 1’6”, which sounds pretty far for a macro lens. But, that’s 1’6” from the center plane of the camera, which sits right behind the lens, so you can pretty much bring the lens right up to anything. With a 24mm focal length, this gives you a really unique shot.
This lens can also focus to infinity, so if needed it could be used for longer shots. It’s completely manual, so you’ll have to do all of the focus and aperture adjustments by hand. Because of the length, panning and tilting with this lens allows for an interesting parallax like effect, because the front of the lens is so far from the sensor plane.
As we said before, it’s only an f/14 lens at the widest, so you need a lot of light to shoot with. On that same note, as you stop down, you may notice more and more dust/debris on your camera sensor or on the lens, so you need to make sure you keep your camera sensor and front and rear elements clean. We also found that depending on your lighting setup, this lens can cast a shadow if you aren’t using the built in LED’s. Something else to keep in mind while using the LED’s is that you may get some reflections if you’re shooting on something reflective or shiny.
Since the lens is so long, depending on the movement in your shot, there will be a little bit of unwanted shake, so having some sort of lens support will minimize any vibrations or motion. In body stabilization on your camera body will help with this as well.
The LED lights are incredibly useful, but draw a lot of power, so you will need to plan accordingly for some type of powering solution. We used a cine battery with a USB port, but you could use smaller USB battery backs, or even a USB wall plug. There isn’t a way to mount a battery back, so you’ll need to consider this when planning your shoot as well- whether you hold it, mount it to the tripod, or sit it on a table: it’s something to keep in mind.
This lens comes in a standard version and a cine version, with geared focus and aperture rings for a follow focus. The standard version costs $1,499, and the cine version costs a bit more at $1,699.
We had a lot of fun testing this lens out! It’s truly a unique piece of gear that can get shots like no other macro lens we’ve seen. We recommend this lens for anyone wanting to step up their game with some “how the heck did you do that?!” type of content, or if you just want to try something new and different! See some of our test shots on our Youtube video:
If you’re interested in trying this lens out, you can rent it here!
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