It’s been 5 years because the first probe lens by Laowa was launched with a hefty price ticket ($1,449.00). However now, a newcomer lens producer Astrhori has come out with their very own reasonably priced prob lens model: The Astrhori 18mm f/8 Macro Probe Len. And it’s particularly designed for APS-C cameras.
“Reasonably priced” is relative, after all, however $719.00 for a software that may clear up a whole lot of issues and open up inventive prospects for LEGO and miniature-scale photographers is value testing.
On this overview, I’m going to see simply how effectively the Astrhori 18mm f/8 Macro Probe Lens can get into tight areas like LEGO fashions and how much nonetheless pictures I can get with it. I’ll shoot just a few kinds of buildings, like modulars and totally closed fashions, as a result of they every current distinctive challenges, particularly with lighting.
I wrote about how one can shoot and lightweight LEGO interiors earlier than, however that concerned pushing a daily macro lens proper up towards doorways and home windows, breaking up an official set, or constructing MOCs with detachable partitions. The probe lens affords one other manner: simply slide it by a normal LEGO door or window.
Having the lens contained in the mannequin like this enables photographers to seize a distinct perspective – a bug’s eye view – and get nearer to particulars. There’s not a whole lot of room to pivot left or proper by a door body, although, however in case you take away the door itself, you will get somewhat bit more room to maneuver and get completely different compositions.
Right here’s the shot I received from the setup above with only a single LED panel as my mild supply:
As a result of the highest may be faraway from this arcade mannequin, I might simply maintain an LED panel over it to get mild in there. LEGO Modular Buildings are designed this manner, so these would be the best form of mannequin to mild as effectively. You do must be conscious of framing so that you don’t get empty house the place there ought to be a ceiling.
The Astrhori 18mm f/8 is wide-angle
I like that the lens was capable of seize much more of the setting, which is vital to me as a LEGO builder. That’s the ability of an 18mm lens– the huge angle creates extra immersive pictures, bringing context to the scene.
On an APSC digital camera, that 18mm interprets extra into 27mm. It’s not wider than my Tamron 24mm f/2.8 on my full-frame digital camera, but it surely’s actually shut. (Notice: Astrhori makes a related 28mm f/13 macro probe lens for full body cameras for a similar price.)
I shot the arcade photograph at f/11, which is one cease down from its most f/8 aperture, to get a barely sharper picture. I discovered that total, the Astrhori 18mm f/8 probe lens was a bit mushy throughout all apertures in comparison with my different macro lenses, just like the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG. The Astrhori might be the weakest of my macro lenses in that regard.
However does it actually matter?
I believe that for my wants, it’s sharp sufficient. I largely do LEGO pictures as a passion and share it on Instagram, Flickr, and Tumblr, however I wouldn’t disregard this lens if I had been capturing one other business challenge, like a e book or advert. My pictures aren’t going to be printed on billboards or something near that scale, so the lens is ok for what I do. It’s only a matter of getting used to personally as a result of I do know what my different macro lenses can ship when it comes to sharpness.
When it comes to magnification, the Astrhori 18mm f/8 can ship 2:1, which none of my different macro lenses can do. All of them max out at 1:1.
Granted, I by no means shoot at 2:1 for my minifig pictures as a result of I don’t need to be so shut up that I can see all of the ink splatter from the pad printing. However who is aware of, I’ll begin performing some element photographs to indicate options in a LEGO set or clarify my lighting. This lens opens up these prospects.
Astrhori 18mm f/8: Lighting and glare
Probe lenses are designed to enter small areas, and which means lighting is often a difficulty. You’ll be able to’t shoot the place there’s no mild.
The Astrhori 18mm f/8 macro probe lens has built-in LEDs across the entrance of it, however I’d by no means use these for LEGO pictures as a result of on-axis mild is ugly and causes glare on shiny components.
Nonetheless, these LEDs could possibly be helpful for HO scale, dollhouse, or different miniature pictures that doesn’t contain reflective materials. There’s a USB-C port on the barrel the place you’ll be able to join an influence financial institution (Add this to our photograph lights with energy banks record).
As an alternative, I’d use exterior lighting, sensible lighting, or a mixture of the 2. These photographs inside my space-themed e book nook had been lit with a bunch of LEDs positioned within the set with no different exterior lighting.
These tiny LEDs within the bricks aren’t highly effective in any respect, so I needed to improve the publicity to 2 seconds to permit for extra mild to construct up on the sensor. If I had been to do a video moderately than a nonetheless, I’d have to extend my ISO as an alternative, which might in all probability add a whole lot of noise to my Sony a6500. I’ll check that in my video overview later.
Astrhori 18mm f/8: Utilizing out there mild
I do know lots of people shoot with out there mild, so I took out my tiny pink home MOC to the out of doors areas round my home at completely different occasions of day to see what I might get.
It’s summer season now, with clear skies for weeks on finish, which is sweet for this lens since you want a whole lot of mild. The one mild within the mannequin is the direct daylight that is available in by the small home windows.
I construct my MOCs with lighting in thoughts, so the roof on this mannequin is retractable. Barely opening it up and turning the tiny home a bit resulted in additional dramatic lighting.
I’d crop that prime or body tighter to get that open roof out of the shot, however I left it in right here so you’ll be able to see the place the sunshine was coming in from.
Having stated and accomplished all that, I don’t see myself capturing open air with this lens until it’s round my home. The probe lens is just too cumbersome to hold, much more so when taking something however a Minifigure outdoors. And it seems to be bizarre sufficient that individuals will come and examine what I’m doing, which is 100% what I don’t need to occur.
Who’s Astrhori 18mm probe lens for?
When you’re a complicated photographer that shoots small objects in tight areas, this may be your dream lens. You’re seeking to embody the setting in your photographs and need to get a distinct perspective from the macro lenses you already personal. You usually shoot indoors in your studio. You’ve got a tripod or different steady help and good data of sunshine. You even have $719 to spare.
When you’re a video content material creator, you moreover have a slider, ideally motorized, and a ton of sunshine sources.
This lens isn’t for inexperienced persons. When you aren’t already used to capturing with a macro lens or a guide lens, this probe lens shall be overwhelming and irritating to make use of.
Stylistically, the Astrhori 18mm f/8 probe lens isn’t suited to photographers who wish to isolate single figures towards a whole lot of Bokeh. The lens received’t provide a shallow depth of discipline or good Bokeh as a consequence of its brief focal size and smaller most aperture.
Talking of, right here’s the most effective Bokeh I might get with this lens:
I like the Astrhori 18mm f/8 macro probe lens as a result of it does precisely what I would like it to do: get in very small areas that my different macro lenses can’t probably attain. It’s almost good for my workflow and the sorts of units I wish to shoot.
I’ll be taking extra pictures inside my e book nooks and MOCs, and revisiting official LEGO units now that I’ve this highly effective inventive software. I’m actually enthusiastic about it!
I’m even desirous about getting my long-stagnant video manufacturing passion transferring alongside now as a result of the Astrhori probe lens permits for some enjoyable push-in photographs by a LEGO set. I don’t have a ton of video-making expertise or gear, so I’ll simply must make do with a guide slider (that I already personal), slo-mo recording, and velocity ramping in put up to get round some stabilization points for now.
Worth and availability
The Astrhori 18mm f/8 macro probe lens for APSC cameras is available in at simply $719 and is obtainable in Sony E, Fuji X, Nikon Z, Canon RF and EF, in addition to Leica/Panasonic/Sigma L mounts.
In regards to the Creator
Anna Bitanga, aka Four Bricks Tall, has been taking pictures of toys for a decade and teaches toy pictures on her YouTube channel. She additionally writes about toy pictures in her month-to-month Substack newsletter, Take Higher Toy Images. This text was additionally revealed here and shared with permission.