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Featured Video

Shot with Laowa Macro Probe Lens - 2019 Digital Shootout
Jim Decker

Jim Decker

CEO: Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo


One of the most fun things I shot at the Shootout this year was definitely the Laowa Macro Probe Lens. It's a 24mm relay lens that has a long tube and small front element that can get into really tight places. On top of that, it has a macro reproduction ration of 2:1, similar to a +10 to +12 super macro lens. What it allows one to do is shoot macro subjects but maintain a wide field of view. The effect is that of what's called a "bug eye view" with what the world would look like from a bug's perspective.

It is a bit challenging to shoot. The lens is only manual focus. I used the aperture closed as much as possible, which is also operated manually. It takes a little getting used to but once you get the hang of it and the eye of what to look for, it turns into a ton of fun with a new perspective.

I only shot it one day, and it was pretty dark that day. I had the ISO set from 400 to 3200. I was using the Canon EOS R mirrorless camera and it handled the high ISO really well.

I tried something I was never able to really do before when shooting macro, which was using a really slow shutter of 1/8 and moving the camera to create some blur. In the past I haven't had the ability to do this because of the narrow field of view of a macro lens. With the 24mm field of view, I have enough room to create a blur effect.

For all of these shots I used a snoot to isolate just the foreground subject.

I'm looking forward to playing with this lens a lot more and seeing where I can take it.

Hergen Spalink


Backscatter Team Member


Perhaps the oddest shaped piece of gear at the Digital Shootout, the Laowa Probe Lens is designed to give users a wide angle perspective when shooting macro and allow them to access cracks and crevices that normal lenses can't.

The probe lens is manual focus and manual aperture. This makes the setup process a little complex. But with Nauticam's cleanly executed port design, any user would be able to figure out the gear alignment and locking mechanisms. When using the lens, I found it helpful to have focus peaking turned on and to pay careful attention to stability.

Shot with Laowa Probe Lens - 2019 Digital Shootout

True to design, the probe lens offered some amazing perspectives. We were able to slide through the polyp-dotted branches of gorgonians, sneak into a file fish den, and explore the interior walls of many sponges. I could've spent the whole Digital Shootout using the Laowa probe lens, but a lot of the staff was eager to give it a try. There are so many cool perspectives that are unreachable with a normal lens, I can't wait to dive it again.