Bizarre lens alert: the macro probe lens club gets a new member

AstrHori 18mm f/8 APS-C periscope probe macro lens
(Image credit: AstrHori)

We were blown away in 2018 when Laowa launched its 24mm f/14 2x Macro Probe lens - a macro lens like no other. Then in 2022, AstrHori gave us its 28mm f/13 macro probe lens, offering similar specs to the Laowa lens, but costing around half the price. And just when you thought there were enough probe lenses in the world, AstrHori announced it has another offering waiting in the wings - this time a dedicated APS-C probe lens. The crop-sensor lens will be available in Sony E, Fujifilm X, Canon RF, Canon EF, Nikon Z, L-mount and Micro Four Thirds mounts.

The lens comes in two parts, allowing it to be transported more easily in the supplied case. (Image credit: AstrHori)

As you'd expect from a lens with such a range of mount options, it is a manual focus-only optic, likely lacking any electrical contacts to communicate with the host camera. The lens offers up to 2x magnification and has a minimum focus distance of 0.47m - but due to its long length actually has an effective working distance of just 5mm.

(Image credit: AstrHori)

The beauty of a probe lens is that you can stick its snout right into the action to capture a bug-eye perspective in the depths of the undergrowth, while its wide-angle field of view also maintains a greater depth of field to record more background context. The front section of the probe is waterproof, allowing you to use it for underwater images in streams or fish tanks.

The lens's unusually narrow barrel keeps it (and you), fairly inconspicuous to your subject, and judging by the leaked lens images, the AstrHori 18mm probe lens features a tiny LED ring light around the front lens element to illuminate close-up subjects – a feature shared with the 28mm version.


The front 20cm of the probe is waterproof, allowing to take close-ups of aquatic life (Image credit: AstrHori)

Mounts: Sony E, Nikon Z, Canon RF, Canon EF, Leica L, MFT, Fujifilm X
Full frame: No
Autofocus: No
Image stabilization: No
Lens construction: 23 elements in 17 groups
Angle of view:  76 degrees
Diaphragm blades: 7
Minimum aperture: f/28
Minimum focusing distance: 0.475m
Maximum magnification ratio: 2:1
Filter size: 62mm
Dimensions: 60x457mm
Weight: 704g

Pricing and availability

The AstrHori 18mm f/8 APS-C periscope probe macro lens is on sale from today for $719 / £879.

Read more: 

Best macro lenses
Best pancake lenses
Best cine lenses
Best anamorphic lenses
Best tilt shift lenses

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Ben Andrews

Ben is the Imaging Labs manager, responsible for all the testing on Digital Camera World and across the entire photography portfolio at Future. Whether he's in the lab testing the sharpness of new lenses, the resolution of the latest image sensors, the zoom range of monster bridge cameras or even the latest camera phones, Ben is our go-to guy for technical insight. He's also the team's man-at-arms when it comes to camera bags, filters, memory cards, and all manner of camera accessories – his lab is a bit like the Batcave of photography! With years of experience trialling and testing kit, he's a human encyclopedia of benchmarks when it comes to recommending the best buys.