Macro Probe Lens Comparison: AstrHori 28mm vs Laowa 24mm
For a while now, Laowa’s 24mm probe lens has been the go-to choice for filmmakers looking to capture high-quality macro video. It’s an undeniably impressive piece of kit.
But at around $1800 new, its price tag may put it out of reach if you're working on a tight budget.
In this video, we put both these probe lenses through their paces in a series of tests. We look at contrast, colour balance, sharpness, depth of field and more.
Check it out to learn more about the amazing things you can do with lenses like these, and to find out whether the AstrHori can really match the Laowa on quality.
Test #1: Donuts
With tested each lens in SLOG 3 with a standard LUT and a little additional grade, and then again with the LUT only. The light source was shining indirectly into the lens.
In both cases, the contrast achieved by the AstrHori was lower than that offered by the Laowa. The AstrHori also seemed to suffer more from flare.
It was also easy to spot the difference in focal length, with the 24mm Laowa offering a noticeably wider view.
Test #2: Coffee Beans
We also used the LED light on the end of each probe, which acted as a small fill light for the shadows within the coffee bag. We switched this light on and off as we filmed to show its effect.
In this test, contrast and optical quality were excellent for both lenses, meaning the AstrHori matched the more expensive Laowa.
The only noticeable difference related to colour balance, with the AstrHori giving slightly bluer tones, while the Laowa stayed more neutral.
Test #3: Book
Both lenses performed well at F40, though optical quality did look sharper with the Laowa. When we tried each lens at its maximum aperture, the AstrHori lost more clarity in the corners of the frame than the Laowa did.
It’s worth noting that the feeling of shallower depth of field produced by the AstrHori may be preferable for some videographers.
Overall, the Laowa did perform better than the AstrHori across all of our tests. The AstrHori lost contrast and suffered from flare when the subject was backlit. It also struggled to achieve perfect neutrality in terms of colour balance.
The AstrHori also has a slightly greater diameter, making it harder to manoeuvre through particularly small spaces – donut holes, for instance!
However, as mentioned above, the cost difference between these two lenses is significant. Considering that it costs less than half as much as the Laowa, the AstrHori is an impressive macro probe lens for the price.
One final note: though we tested these lenses with video, they can also be used for photography.
Have you tried either of these lenses yet? If so, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.