Laowa 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be Lens Announced

August 17th, 2023 Jump to Comment Section 4
Laowa 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be Lens Announced

Venus Optics, better known under their lens brand Laowa, just announced the 2nd version of their much-lauded probe lens (which they teased two weeks ago) called Laowa 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be, and it has a number of improvements over the original version. Let’s take a closer look.

We’re still thinking back to 2016 when we discovered quite a curious product at Photokina in Cologne and shot a video about it – the original Laowa “Snorkel” lens, at that time in prototype status and without the final name. The video ended up gathering 2.8 million views on YouTube so far – certainly because of the product’s unusual look. It was clear at the time that there was A LOT of interest in this niche lens. (I reviewed the lens a bit later sticking it into a beehive, and you can watch the review here.)

Niche lens with unique features

It’s clear why it garnered so much interest: the unusual shape of the Laowa “Snorkel” Probe lens allows for some unique perspectives. You can get unusually close to small subjects without casting a shadow, and at 24mm, it’s much wider than a typical macro lens, which means you see a lot more of the surroundings than normal. That is incredible, not only for wildlife (insect) photography and cinematography. The tip is waterproof, which of course allows for some incredible shots as well.

Laowa Pro2be enhances probe lens in key areas

Yet the length and a relatively slow T14 f-stop on the original probe lens created a number of challenges, which version two of the lens tackles head-on.

From the get-go, the Pro2be is cine-ready in its design (the original Probe didn’t have gears on the lens, but they added a cine-ready version later), its barrel is even longer, and according to Laowa, there is also a significant improvement in image quality.

A family of 3 lenses – the Laowa Pro2be Kit

The three versions of the Laowa Laowa 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be lens. They can be bought as a kit. Image credit: Laowa / Venus Optics.

Interestingly, Laowa likely aimed to incorporate several features into the new lens version that couldn’t feasibly be accommodated within a single model. As a result, they opted to split it into three distinct lenses. The lenses can be bought as a kit or individually.

The three different models are a Direct View Lens, a 35º View Lens, and a Periscope Lens.

Faster T stop

All of the new models feature the same T8 maximum aperture, which is considerably faster than the T14 of the original Probe lens. While still “slow” compared to regular lenses, more than a full stop more of light means twice the amount of light hitting the sensor, which allows for an even shallower depth of field. It also means that much less light must be utilized, which is especially important for high-speed cinematography. The Probe and Pro2be lenses are perfect for those high-speed shots, as you can see in the demo video, when shooting animals or food, for example. Not being forced to blast everything on set with an incredible amount of light also makes a big difference – every stop gained is a huge improvement and makes production easier, and allows for more on-location shooting with natural light.

All versions of the Laowa Pro2be lens feature a T8 aperture. Image credit: Laowa / Venus Optics.

The original Probe lens hit its limit quickly when shooting outdoors in the shade, even with modern cinema cameras with a fast sensor. The T stop now closes down to T40.

Longer waterproof distance

The waterproof distance of the lens has improved to 36.6 cm as well, enabling you to submerge it even deeper in water. This provides another advantage for getting the shot you need, even in liquids that aren’t very shallow. Water scenes can be scaled up now, and maneuvering the lens underwater is much easier.

7 different user-interchangeable mounts

It’s nice to see that users can now also interchange between mounts themselves. Laowa offers 7 different mount options: ARRI PL, Canon EF, Canon RF, Nikon F, Nikon Z, Sony E, and the L-Mount, which leaves little to be desired! According to the manufacturer, the mount change is done in a few simple steps.

Turnable, angled lens barrels and longer tubes

Laowa added around 10 cm to the length of the lens barrel compared to previous versions of the lens, and the periscope version of the lens has a 360º rotating mechanism, which makes it much more flexible when adjusting the angle to get the right shot. In many cases, you are dealing with small subjects that you can’t necessarily move, so being able to get the camera in the right spot is worth the lens’s weight in gold!

This also means you can have the camera at a more comfortable operating level while the lens shoots something on the ground. In real-life applications, this makes a lot of difference.

Adds so much flexibility: a rotating mechanism that allows you to adjust the periscope version of the lens to exactly the angle you need. Image credit: Laowa / Venus Optics.

Better image quality and colors

According to Laowa, the optical design was also enhanced for better color rendition and image quality. There was considerable fringing on the original version of the lens, which I haven’t seen as much of in the demo footage Laowa provided for the new Pro2be version of the lens.

Pricing and availability

To learn more about the Laowa 24mm T8 2X Macro Pro2be lens, head over to the Laowa website.

The US price for the Pro2be Set is $8,499 at B&H (or just over €8,000 at CVP) for all mounts (that includes all 3 of the lenses).

Single lens purchase is available at the prices below:

We don’t have exact dates for shipping, but they should go out fairly soon.

What’s your take on the new Laowa Pro2be lens? Do you own the original, and will you upgrade? Or are you planning to enter the “probing” field anew? Let us know in the comments below!


Sort by:
Sort by:

Take part in the CineD community experience