First things first; this is not like regular macro lenses. It’s dedicated solely to macro photography, it works at much higher magnifications and cannot double up as an everyday lens because it is not designed to focus at infinity.
In fact, it goes in the other direction, focusing much closer than the 1:1 reproduction ratio of regular macro lenses, ranging from 2.5x to 5x magnification.
This lens’s unique appearance, with its long, thin barrel, has a very functional purpose. Any lens that focuses this close will inevitably have an extremely long barrel, and this one has been deliberately kept slim to prevent the lens itself shading light from the subject.
The 25mm focal length might seem very short for a macro lens, but Venus Optics says at 5x magnification it still allows a 40mm working distance. The advantage of the short focal length is that it offers a little more depth of field than a longer focal length lens – always an issue in macro photography – though at these magnifications photographers may have to resort to focus stacking techniques regardless, to get sufficient front-to-back sharpness.
The optical construction sounds relatively basic, with 8 elements in 6 groups, including one low-dispersion element near the front. Venus Optics promises “outstanding” image sharpness across different magnifications and greatly reduced chromatic aberration and colour fringing.
The Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra-Macro weighs 400g and is designed to be used both in the field and in a laboratory. There’s an optional rotating tripod collar too. It will be available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K and Sony E mounts.
Venus Optics in a new Chinese lens maker based in Hefei, Anhui and makes lenses under the Laowa brand name. Macro lenses are clearly a bit of a speciality as the new lens joins an existing 60mm f/2.8 2:1 Macro and 15mm f/4 Wide Angle Macro.
Venus optics: www.venuslens.net