Tuesday, December 31, 2019

There’s Wide Angle photography, then there’s the Venus LAOWA 15mm F4 Wide Angle Macro photography

Finding myself with a few days over Christmas to ‘play around’ with my photography, I decided to remind myself of a few ‘specialist’ lenses I had acquired, but not really used.

As we know, macro photography requires either having macro lenses, that have magnifications of 1:1, or trying to get close with a normal lens, with or without extension tubes; although typically the closest you will get to a focused object is about 200mm from the sensor.

However, if you have the Venus LAOWA 15mm F4 Wide Angle Macro, you can focus at about 5mm from the front of the lens! 

In addition, this lens has a shift feature that allows shifts of +/- 6mm. As it’s a manual lens, you can also set the aperture to F/32.

So overall, it’s a very unusual lens, as you can see from my 5D3 set-up.

Of course, being a manual lens, Magic Lantern interaction is rather restricted, however, ML can still help out, for example Auto ETTR works a treat, as does Dual-ISO.

As you can imagine, if you are focusing 5-10mm away from the front of lens, where you can achieve the 1:1 magnification, light will be rather compromised.

However, as an example of what the lens can achieve I set up an indoor test and focused on the front most flower, used ML to get an ETTR exposure, switched on Dual-ISO, and then, using the DoF scale on the lens, ‘simply’ manually focus stacked to infinity (this is a rather crude process where you have to guess the rotation, which is the same each time.

The resultant 11 images were ingested into Lightroom, Dual-ISO processed, then they did a round trip to Helicon Focus; finally finishing off in Lightroom again. Here are the first and last images:

And here is the final processed image.

Bottom line: The Venus LAOWA 15mm F4 Wide Angle Macro is a unique lens, but one that requires a bit of effort to use. Luckily Magic Lantern, as usual, does some of the heavy lifting.

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