AstrHori’s New Macro Probe Lens Shoots Close-Ups From All Directions

On the left, a camera setup with a vertical lens extension is shown. On the right, three white mushrooms with delicate gills are growing on a tree trunk, contrasting against a dark, blurred background. The fungi are illuminated, highlighting their intricate structure.

AstrHori has released a redesigned 28mm f/13 2x Macro Probe Lens, promising full 360-degree rotation, ensuring photographers and videographers can get up close and personal with a diverse range of subjects.

Probe lenses have become very popular for specialty applications, including television productions. In the past year, macro probe lenses have been used to film scenes in A Real Bug’s Life and Secrets of the Octopus, a pair of National Geographic and Disney documentary series. They’re especially useful for nature photography because they offer macro capabilities while preserving the larger environment surrounding the subject, providing important context to the viewer.

The tube-like design of a macro probe lens means that users don’t need to be extremely close to the subject to achieve 1:1 and 2:1 macro images. Further, the probe barrel is relatively thin and easy to put in hard-to-reach places. Given the design of the AstrHori 28mm f/13 2x Macro Probe Lens, the camera can be about 0.48 meters (1.57 feet) from the subject while achieving the maximum 2:1 magnification. As for distance from the end of the lens, 2:1 macro is achieved at a two-centimeter (0.79 inches) working distance.

The lens has two distinct parts. The larger, more typical barrel section attaches directly to the camera. It includes the mount connection, aperture ring, magnification scale, focus ring, 360-degree rotation ring, lock button, and front mount for the probe lens. This lens base is 140 millimeters (5.5 inches) long.

A person is adjusting a camera lens attached to a tripod-mounted camera. An inset image highlights a close-up of the camera lens with clear labels and detailed markings. A blurred plate of food is visible in the background.

The probe comes in two forms. The direct-view version is 335mm (13.2 inches) long and 23mm (0.9 inches) in diameter. The angled version, which allows users to rotate the viewing angle 360 degrees, is 340mm (13.4 inches) long and still just 23mm (0.9 inches) in diameter.

Although very long in total, the assembled probe lens weighs only 760 grams (just under 1.7 pounds). The lens includes 21 elements across 16 groups and features a seven-bladed aperture diaphragm.

Like other probe lenses, AstrHori’s new version is entirely manual, meaning that focus and aperture are controlled via the physical rings on the lens barrel. The lens also includes electronic communication and features a built-in LED at the front. The LED, plus the probe lens’s first 200 millimeters (7.9 inches), is waterproof.

A person wearing a backpack is photographing plants in a forest. Insets show close-up shots of mushrooms, pizza, and a small yellow flower. Text highlights a 2x magnification rate, 75-degree viewing angle, and a nearest working distance of 2 cm for the camera.

While not the same model, PetaPixel reviewed AstrHori’s 18mm f/8 Macro Probe Lens for APS-C cameras last year, and it impressed. The 28mm f/13 Macro Probe lens should work very similarly to the 18mm f/8 one, albeit with full-frame coverage.

The upgraded AstrHori 28mm f/13 2x Macro Probe Lens is available now for Canon EF and RF, Sony E, Nikon Z, and L-Mount cameras. The 360-degree version — which does not include the direct-view lens, is available on Pergear for $939. The lens with direct and 360-degree attachments is $1,398.

Image credits: AstrHori