Snorkel Macro Lens Video Review – Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Lens

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I reviewed Laowa’s 24mm f/14 Probe Lens which has used to be available on Kickstarter (now you can order it here) – we reported about it here. Let’s see what it can really do!

Viral Hit

Two years ago at Photokina I shot an interview with Kevin from Chinese lens manufacturer Venus Optics about the prototype of this lens under their brand “Laowa”.

The video got around 2.5 million views so far and for some reason it’s become the most popular video on our YouTube channel, unbelievable.

Now after two years it finally arrived for testing, and I had to take it for a spin around some bees – and our friends from MXR Productions loaned me their Phantom Miro camera to get some amazing slow motion footage. 

Still from a clip shot on the Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Lens

Lens Design Advantages

As you can see, the unusual lens design has a couple of advantages: You can get VERY close to your subject without disturbing it with a huge front element, and you don’t put yourself into much danger because you are still physically far away. And of course, the slim, long design allows you to go into narrow objects and get perspectives that would be otherwise impossible. Also, it’s 24mm wide, which is very unusual for a macro lens. This means you can see small animals as part of their environment rather than isolated when using a normal Macro lens which often has 100mm. 

Laowa 24mm Macro Probe Lens on a Sony A7 III

Built-in LED Light and f/14 Aperture

What’s really cool is that the front tip of the lens is waterproof and also has an LED light built in. 

When I was shooting the bees in slow motion at mostly 500 frames per second, I needed every bit of light that I could get – also because the lens has a minimum aperture of f/14, which is of course extremely slow and one of its biggest downsides. 

I found the LED light which is powered through a USB micro port on the lens is particularly helpful as additional light when shooting in a bright environment already. If you use ONLY the LED light when filming in a dark environment, it makes everything look extremely flat because of the direction of the light, just like a headlight on a camera. 

Filming with the Laowa Macro Probe Lens inside a bee hive, with the Phantom Miro super slow motion camera.

Optical Quality, Mount Versions

I did not to scientific tests on the optical quality of the lens but there is some color fringing that I can see – however I never expected a lens with such a complicated design to be perfect. 

The Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Lens is available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony FE and Arri PL mounts. 

Their Kickstarter is about to run out later today, and this is your last chance to pre-order it … later it will be available through retail and we will post all the updated buy links into this video once they become available.

You can now order the lens directly from Laowa on their website by clicking here.


All in all a compelling, different kind of product that definitely is very useful for many specific use cases. I wouldn’t want to miss it in my tool kit anymore now that I know what is possible with it.

The music used in the video above is courtesy of Music Vine. Get 20% off with code C5D20 (valid until 31st March 2019)

Will you be getting a Laowa 24mm Macro Probe Lens? What would you shoot with it? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Rusch MeyerTobias Mennle Recent comment authors
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Amazing footage Nino, nice work! It almost looks like animation, it’s surreal looking.

Tobias Mennle
Tobias Mennle

The Miro is S35, right, so we have a 1.4 crop or so in your footage. This looks like an absolutely revolutionary product and I was hoping for a long time that Laowa would finally release it. So far, the options were to buy an Innovision snorkel for 30K or so, or use endoscopes which are around F45 and are severely diffraction limited and full of aberrations. F14 is just a bit beyond diffraction limit in 4K S35 and a perfect choice IMO from the engineers, giving maximum depth of field without sacrifices. For S35/APSC use a speedbooster should be… Read more »

Rusch Meyer

We ordered one of the lenses through the Kickstarter campaign and shot our first video with it called The Achocolypse:
The lens is really holding up to our expectations, it is truly a great!

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