Chinese lens manufacturer, Venus Optics, is back with a second-generation version of its highly unique and clever ‘probe lens’, the Laowa 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be. Like its predecessor, the new Pro2be lens offers a wide-angle field of view and impressive macro capabilities combined with a tubular design that lets cinematographers and other creators place and move the camera into situations that would be difficult, if not impossible, with traditional lenses.
This second-generation version of the Laowa Probe lens is heavily aimed at the cinema market and features several design changes and optical improvements over the previous model. The focal length remains the same, at 24mm, but the new 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be features a brighter aperture than the original, optical improvements and better weather-sealing. The latest version also includes interchangeable lens mounts and, in fact, comes in three distinct physical designs for different shooting applications.
Design and Optical Features
In 2018, Venus Optics introduced one of the most unique lenses the photography world had ever seen with a 41cm (16.1in)-long manual focus ‘probe lens’. Yet despite its long, thin shape, the lens featured a wide 24mm focal length and was designed for a full-frame image circle—features that seem inconsistent with the lens’ physical design.
The new Laowa 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be lens maintains this same 24mm focal length and full-frame image format. However, the new version has a much brighter aperture than before. The new cine-focused Pro2be lens opens up to a T-stop of T8, whereas the original photo-centric Probe Lens had a maximum aperture of F14. The aperture is adjustable and, like before, closes down to a minimum T-stop of T40. The brighter maximum aperture on the new version allows for more depth-of-field control as well as more flexibility in lower-lighting situations, such as outdoor macro shooting and high-speed photography applications. The aperture diaphragm has also been upgraded to a 10-blade design over the 7-blade aperture design of the original, which should improve the smoothness and look of out-of-focus areas.
Venus Optics states that this new 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be lens features an improved optical design with better overall image quality and color rendition. The new lens includes multiple high-refractive-index glass and Extra-Low Dispersion elements, providing sharper image quality across the frame and suppressing chromatic aberrations.
The original Laowa Probe lens was comprised of 27 elements situated in 19 groups, while the new version increases the total number of elements significantly. The Direct View version features 33 elements in 24 groups, as does the 35-degree View model. The Periscope View flavor adds complexity to the design and uses 34 total elements and 25 optical lens groupings.
|The Laowa 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be ‘Direct View’ lens mounted to a cinema camera.|
As before, the Laowa 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be features impressive macro capabilities with up to 2:1 macro reproduction. The new version features an even more impressive close working distance of just 4mm (0.16 inches), allowing for incredibly close, detailed macro shots of your subject.
Venus Optics has also improved the waterproof capabilities of the front barrel of the lens. The distance at which the lens barrel can be submerged in water is now up to 36.6cm (14.4 inches).
Get your angle right
One of the primary physical design changes with this new 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be lens is that there are actually three different styles. There is a standard straight tubular design, much like the original Probe lens, which Laowa calls the ‘Direct View Lens’. However, there are now two other angled versions, a 35-degree View and a Periscope version, which gives creators additional versatility to get unique shots and get the camera into even more difficult shooting angles. In all three versions of the 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be lens, the barrel is also 10cm (3.9 in.) longer than the original version, allowing for even deeper, closer shooting possibilities.
|The Laowa 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be ’35-degree View’ version features a straight barrel design but with an angled front lens element.|
The 35-degree tilted version mounts straight onto the camera, but the front element is angled at 35 degrees, giving you more flexibility in how you place or angle your camera. The lens mount on this version also has a locking rotational mechanism that lets you rotate the lens a full 360 degrees while it’s mounted on the camera, giving you more adjustability on how you situate your camera rig depending on the shooting situation.
As the name suggests, the Periscope version has an angled design on both ends of the lens barrel. This design is helpful for a variety of shooting situations, especially when shooting at high and low angles, such as getting ground-level shots while keeping the camera at a higher position. The Periscope version also features the same 360-degree rotating mechanism as the 35-degree lens.
Lens Mount Options
In addition to the three barrel design options, the Laowa 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be will be offered in seven different lens mount versions: Arri PL, Canon EF, Canon RF, Nikon F, Nikon Z, Sony E and L mount. The bayonet mounts are also user-interchangeable, allowing cinematographers to switch between different camera systems easily.
Pricing and Availability
|The Laowa 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be lenses will be sold individually or also as a complete set of all three versions.|
The Laowa 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be cinema lenses will be sold both individually or as part of a three-lens bundle. On sale now, the Direct View Pro2be lens is priced at $2,849, while the 35-Degree Pro2be and Periscope Pro2be sell for $3,149 and $3,349, respectively. A Pro2be Set of all three models is also available for $8,499.
Full specs can be found on Venus Optics’ official Laowa 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be product page.