This wacky foot-long macro lens lets you probe deep into the insect world

Here’s a lens you wouldn’t want to pull out of your bag in a high-security area. You might want to stick it into a nest full of bugs, though.

First teased a couple of years back, Venus Optics’  Laowa 24mm f/14 2x Macro Probe lens for Canon, Nikon, and Sony cameras has a design unlike any other, its long slim barrel resembling more of a shooting device than a photographic one.

But there’s a reason for that foot-long barrel. Think about it — macro lenses are made for close-up photography and the best results are obtained when the glass is physically close to the subject. But the bulky shape of the lens and camera can sometimes make it hard to get in super-close.

As the “Macro Probe” name suggests, Venus Optics’ lens enables you to get right up to the subject, regardless of the tightness of the space in which you’re working.

While most macro lenses have a long focal length, the maker here went for a wide-angle 24mm design that helps to bring in more details from the area surrounding the subject. Venus Optics calls it a “bug’s eye” view.

Its f/14 aperture means a reduced amount of light hitting the sensor, but the team of “photography experts and industry enthusiasts” who built the lens have gotten around this obstacle by incorporating an LED ring light at the end of the barrel to brighten the subject and the area around it. It all helps to bring out the background details resulting from the increased depth of field that the aperture provides.

Good for video and stills, the Laowa’s Kickstarter page suggests plenty of use opportunities and presents example material to give you a clearer idea of the lens’s capabilities.

The team has already reached its funding goal, allowing it to move forward with plans for mass production of the lens.

Early backers could be probing bugs’ nests as early as this October, and if and when it makes it to retail at a later date, it’s expected to come with a $1,500 price tag.

China-based Venus Optics has released a number of lenses over the years, but this is its most unusual-looking one to date. Indeed, the company itself describes it as “the weirdest lens ever.”

The funding period has almost closed and most of the rewards have been snapped up, but if you do choose to back it, do so with the kind of caution you would apply to any other crowdfunding project.

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