Best Laowa Probe Lens Review

If you’re new to photography, you might be confused about what a probe lens is. This is a highly specialized kind of lens that is only suited to specific shooting scenarios. And only manufactured by particular brands. Probe lenses are unique lenses largely made by Venus Optics, and they’re optimized for close-up macro shooting. This article will list a product review about the Venus Optics Laowa 24mm Macro Probe lens. It is also called an anteater lens. This is because you can get intrinsic shots of subjects located in places where shooting with a normal camera and lens is impossible.

Now, you should know that since these are specialized lenses, they can be a little pricey, especially if you’re buying them from reliable brands.


However, chances are if you’re interested in a lens like this, you have a good idea of the kind of photography or videography you plan to do, so you might not be too concerned about the costs.

Some of these lenses are roughly around $1500. Lenses, in general, can be expensive, but if you’re looking for a budget probe lens that will only cost you a couple of hundred dollars, you might have to just opt for a cheap macro lens instead.

With that said, if you do end up buying any of these lenses, you won’t be disappointed. So, let’s see how a Laowa probe lens works and also find the best probe lens for you. 

HOW DOES A PROBE LENS WORK

4 BEST PROBE LENS REVIEW

1. VENUS OPTICS LAOWA 24MM F/14 2X FOR CANON EF MOUNT

Venus optics Laowa 24mm - best probe lens

PRODUCT FEATURES

  • 24mm macro probe lens
  • f/14 2x aperture
  • Wide-angle perspective, or 'Bug Eye.'
  • Waterproof front barrel makes outdoor shooting easier
  • LED ring light available to provide lighting support
  • 2:1 maximum magnification
  • The lens barrel is 40cm long

This probe lens by Laowa was actually produced due to a Kickstarter-funded project, which is a pretty interesting origin story. And since then consumers actively paid for this lens to come into being and we can even bet that it lives up to the hype.

This is probably the best probe lens for wildlife photography you can get, so if you're interested in artistic, close-up shots of butterflies and capturing insects among foliage where you can see the outline of every vein on a leaf, you're in luck because this is the probe lens for you.

The deep depth-of-field this lens provides means you can capture all the background details with sharp precision. The impressive magnification ratio even allows you to capture elements that you might not be able to see with your eyes.

The lens has a long tubular design so you can reach areas that might normally be inaccessible. If you're shooting with a macro lens, you're somewhat limited if you want to take shots in any place where the lens must be physically inserted, but this isn't a problem with the Laowa probe lens.

You can push the lens into bushes or rocky spaces, and capturing high-quality photos won't be an issue. This lens works a lot better when you're shooting in spaces that are well-lit or with lots of natural light. But if you're mainly taking outdoor shots or you're into wildlife photography, you're probably shooting in daylight anyway.

Pros

  • Light and easy to carry
  • Gives sharp results
  • Great for underwater close-ups
  • The length of the barrel ensures your safety when shooting dangerous wildlife
  • Lens tip is 0.2 diameter for 'slip in' shots

Cons

  • The LED is powered by an external battery which must be bought separately

2. VENUS LAOWA 24MM F/14 2X MACRO PROBE LENS FOR SONY FE

Venus laowa sony fe - best probe lens

PRODUCT FEATURES

  • 24mm macro probe lens
  • f/14 maximum aperture
  • 2x magnification
  • 7 aperture blades
  • 85° angle of view
  • Lens caps included for front and rear
  • 3-year warranty

In some ways, this is quite similar to the previous lens. It's also manufactured by Venus Optics and comes at the same price of $1500. But again, this lens has some unique features. The 'Bug Eye' view for wide-angle shots makes this the best macro probe lens for taking those wide shots and  not only that it's also waterproof.

This Laowa 24mm macro lens is useful if you're interested in shooting in shallow water (the lens is waterproof but not weather-sealed), and the wide-angle shots will let you take in the scenery while still zooming in on the aquatic life. This is a full-frame lens, so make sure you double-check compatibility before you invest.

It's also perfect for shooting slightly 'out there' footage, like the blinking motion of an eye or the texture on the underside of your shoe. If you're a bit of an experimental artist, this is the lens for you.

Like the previous lens, it performs better in open daylight or brightly lit settings. But the 9 LED lights do come in handy, and when turning up the lights to full brightness, you can shoot very comfortably, even on handheld, and expect neat and precise shots. From the bubbles in an aquarium to every knit of a spiderweb, you can capture it all.

This is a manual lens, so autofocus doesn't come into the picture here. But if you're taking close-ups, you'll rely more on manual anyways, so that's not an issue. If this lens sounds like it's up to your alley, go for it!

Pros

  • Highly functional and serves its purpose
  • Performs well across its focal length
  • Very well-built
  • LED system works well
  • Aperture and focus controls are solid

Cons

  • At times, you get very slight softness at wider apertures

3. VENUS LAOWA 24MM F/14 2X LENS FOR NIKON F

Venus laowa Nikon - best probe lens

PRODUCT FEATURES

  • 24mm macro probe lens
  • f/14 maximum aperture
  • The 7-blade diaphragm helps improve bokeh
  • Waterproof lens tip
  • LED ring light on the edge of the lens
  • Maximum magnification is 2:1
  • 3-year warranty

If you're loyal to Nikon, this is the best probe lens for you if you happen to be using the Nikon F Mount. The ED and extra refractive index elements in the lens makeup help rule out any aberrations, so even if you're shooting tight close-ups (which might be largely why you're choosing to buy this lens), the photos should be crisp and clear.

These elements also help to enhance overall color and contrast rendition, so no worries about inaccurate colors, particularly when you're shooting wildlife or bugs. The waterproof tip of the lens is a benefit not just when shooting frogs or fish but also when you're working in trying weather conditions.

This means that you don't need to bother about damage to the lens if you're out there snapping away on a dusty or windy day. This is a lens that's primarily for FX models, but you can also use it on DX cameras.

The long tube lens will give you the 'Bug Eye' view that will help you get up close and personal with your shots. The fact that the diameter of the front part of the lens is only 0.8" is a great way to get those 'slip in' shots inside foliage or small, crowded spaces.

Pros

  • Great bokeh effect
  • Good depth-of-field
  • Light and well-built
  • Detailed and natural shots
  • LED light for illumination in closed spaces

Cons

  • The entire lens is not weather-sealed

4. VENUS OPTICS LAOWA 24MM PROBE LENS FOR ARRI PL

PRODUCT FEATURES

  • 24mm macro probe lens
  • f/9 maximum aperture
  • 40cm long lens barrel to capture close-ups
  • LED ring light on the lens tip
  • Good for macro or wide-angle shots
  • USB cable dimmer with power adjustment is included
  • The aluminum carry case comes with the lens

This is slightly more expensive than the other options, coming in at around roughly $1700. This is a 'Cine-Mod' version from Venus Optics, and it's designed explicitly for videography. So if you're into quirky videos or, on the other side of the spectrum, you happen to be a serious wildlife (or bug life) videographer, you can get a lot of use out of this.

It might also come in handy for making cool Instagram shorts or TikTok videos which require close-ups, as cooking demos might. This is built for shooting on full-frame, but you can also shoot on Super35.

The depth-of-field is deep, which will allow you to get good results whether you're shooting indoors or outdoors, and you should be able to see clear details of the background as well as the subject. 

This is important for wildlife videography and will really make your work stand out from the crowd. Thus, this is probably the best probe lens by Laowa that you can get for videography in general.

At only 1.04 pounds, this will weigh a lot less than other macro lenses you're lugging around to get the job done. Although the lens has a long, narrow design, it won't be a burden to carry. The front barrel is waterproof as well, which is an added advantage if you're taking footage in shallow water or if it starts raining at an inconvenient time while you're outdoors.

Pros

  • Optimized for videography
  • Light-weight
  • 27 lens elements help to minimize aberrations
  • 'Slide in' shots are a piece of cake with this
  • The case is very solidly-built

Cons

  • Expensive

BUYING GUIDE FOR LAOWA PROBE LENS

Laowa probe lenses should be bought according to your terms as we've established. Since it's quite a specialized lens, you won't find too many on the market, but you should still do your research before buying one.

What is the purpose of buying this lens? If you are shooting in dark spaces (which is often what happens with 'slip in' shots), you should opt for a lens that features an LED light. So that there's enough illumination for decent photos. 

If you're interested in wildlife photography or if you photograph wild animals or poisonous insects, make sure you pick a lens that has a long tube. You'll be able to take crisp shots from a relative distance.


Waterproof or not? If you're interested in shooting in ponds or lakes, make sure you pick a waterproof lens or at least a lens that is partially waterproof. Lenses can easily be damaged by exposure to elements that they're not sealed against.

Also, even if you do pick a waterproof lens, be careful and don't expose it to water beyond what's necessary. This is because these lenses don't exactly fall into the budget category. Basically, when you're searching for the best probe lens, it's largely about your needs.

Also, while these lenses aren't expert-only, it's better to gain a certain amount of experience in photography before you buy one.


Latest Model: Now you should be fully up to date on the latest probe lenses. There aren't many on the market, and most people tend to opt for macro lenses, which are less specialized. But if you think that probe lenses will work better for you, you should give them a go. As it stands, they aren't much more expensive than a decent macro lens and might be cheaper than some.

FAQs

1. What is special about a probe lens?

Unlike normal lenses, the front element of a probe lens is tiny (diameter-2cm). So, you can use the lens in extremely narrow places, like inserting it in a bush for capturing pictures of wildlife or immersing the lens underwater for capturing videos or photos of fishes underwater. Mostly, these types of lenses are commonly used in filmmaking.

2. Are probe lenses waterproof?

Venus Laowa, which is currently the leading manufacturer of specialty lenses, makes probe lenses that are waterproof. So, you can use them comfortably for underwater shoots or places where you need the lens to be in contact with water. However, these lenses aren't weatherproof.

CONCLUSION

Now you should be fully up to date on the latest probe lenses. There aren’t many on the market, and most people tend to opt for macro lenses, which are less specialized. But if you think that probe lenses will work better for you, you should give them a go.


As it stands, they aren’t much more expensive than a decent macro lens and might be cheaper than some. As long as you remember that this lens definitely can’t do everything, and you will need other lenses in your kit as a photographer, you should be good to go. Whatever functions probe lenses do perform, they perform very well. So when are you buying your new probe lens?

Xavier
 

I'm Xavier. I am a professional writer and blogger. It all started when I fell in love with my camera, which was presented to me when I was ten as a birthday gift. Since then, I wanted to become a cinematographer and also succeeded in that. So I am here researching and reviewing the filmmaking gadgets and giving out my top gadgets from the market.I hope you find my review articles interesting and helpful.

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