Recently I purchased something of a white whale lens of mine, the Laowa 24mm f/14 macro probe lens. It is a long weird beast of a thing that is a wide angle macro lens which is a truly weird thing to experience but allows for some really unique views.

Now to be clear this is a expensive speciality lens that unless you are going to use it it a lot is probably worth renting rather than buying but one of our local stores was doing a 20% off sale and I suffered from a fairly serious bout of G.A.S (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and well here we are. Not upset that I bought it but it’s a very odd lens that I know is going to take quite some time to master.

First I want to talk about a problem I hit using this lens with the Canon EOS R5 and the EF-RF adapter. I had purchased the EF mount of the probe lens (it does not currently come in a RF mount). The adapter had been working with my existing RF lenses but when I connected the probe lens the shutter just would not fire. At all. No error message. Just nothing. Oh no.

I had just updated the camera body to the most recent 1.2 version of the R5 firmware and was now worried that something had gone horribly wrong but after some testing with other lens nope they all worked fine. Then I realised I never actually used the adapter with any of my full manual lens yet. Sure enough none of the fully manual lens would work, the shutter would just refuse to fire. After a small frustrated period of searching for the issue I found it buried in a forum post and thankfully it was a simple problem with an equally simple solution.

Long story short when using the EF-RF adapter the camera can nor see the lens is attached at all when its a full manual lens with no electric connector and the default safety setting on the R5 is to not allow the shutter to fire when no lens is attached. Fortunately changing this is an extremely simple menu change which for ease of finding please see:

With this done it was time to start taking photos, bear in mind that this is my first time using this lens and I know none of these photos are great – its just to get my feet wet with what it can do and work my way forward.

Here’s a marigold flower and you can see how the wide angle helps to include the background of the macro image which is honestly a very weird experience to start with. Normally you don’t have to overly worry about background in macro but with this keeping an eye out with what else gets caught in the shot becomes critical.

These are some terribly named pigface flowers which came out reasonably well all things considered.

This was an attempt to see if you can use the lens hand held rather than mounted on a tripod and the answer is kind of. You can see here that I wasn’t able to focus properly on this long legged fly. I don’t think it’s impossible to use this lens hand held but I do think it’s going to be really quite tricky.

This kangaroo paw flower was taken using the built in LED ring on the front of the lens. The lens came with USB connector that had a useful on/off and dimmer function to easily control the lamp power. Once connected toa a portable USB power bank it was pretty easy to use.

A chive flower that I couldn’t quite get the focus I wanted on but still interesting.

Finally some tiny, tiny alyssum flowers that I pushed the lens to its maximum two times magnification.

I did make some mistakes using this lens for the first time however:

  • I should have used a remote trigger for the shutter like I normally do with macro shots – the long length of lens barrel means any movement at all magnifies quite considerably including shuddering from pressing the shutter
  • Setting the white balance for this lens seems oddly weird. Not sure if that’s because it starts at f/14 and goes to f/40 and the lack of light causes weirdness or if I screwed something up in the camera settings. Some research is needed here
  • I completely forgot until about half way through taking shots that the R5 has a flippy screen that can be moved to make me life easier and I had spent far too much of my time trying to pretzel myself
  • It is going to take a while to mentally adjust for what you can see vs how far away the end of the lens actually is from the camera. Its very easy to nearly accidentally smash it off if you aren’t paying attention

Long story short there’s a lot of potential in this lens and I look forward to practising with it more and hopefully produce some better content.

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