It looks like China is shaping up to be a major player in the stills and movie optics design and manufacturing industry. Anhui-based company Venus Optics is the latest to throw its hat into the ring, announcing the first 60mm macro lens with 2x magnification that also focuses to infinity. With a maximum aperture of f/2.8, priced at USD 379, the lens looks versatile and affordable, for video and stills photography.
The lens and its lens mounts
According to the press release which cites the lenses mounts as Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony Alpha and Pentax K, Venus Optics is a brand of the Anhui ChangGeng Optical Technology Company Limited located in Hefei in China’s Anhui province.
That puts Hefei in almost the same time zone as Sydney so my question about lens mounts received an almost immediate reply. Have the Venus Optics folks tested their 60mm f/2.8 ultra-macro on Micro Four Thirds cameras yet? While they have not done so yet, my contact there has committed to testing the lens on an MFT camera and Metabones adapters shortly. I hope he will do that with the EF mount version and the EF-to-MFT Smart Adapter and Speed Booster then let us know so we can pass the information on to you.
Meanwhile the press release states that the lens’ format compatibility is APS-C for shooting macro and normal images and macro-only for full-frame cameras. The maximum magnification ratio is reported as 2x but this would be different when used on an MFT camera, perhaps 4x instead. The effective focal length of the lens when used on MFT cameras would be 120mm, medium telephoto.
Minimum focusing distance is 18.5 centimeters. Focusing is manual, certainly not a hardship when shooting macro and especially extreme macro in my experience. If anything I prefer manual focus when shooting movies and most of the time for stills too.
The lens and its results
Meanwhile the lens itself and the images produced with it look very good indeed. The Venus Optics web page specifications tab provides plenty of detail. What really caught my eye was the info on its aperture blades – 14 of them! – making for smoother bokeh, an essential element of macro photography. The amazing photographs of insects at the company’s website certainly prove the benefits.
Speaking of which, I am impressed with all the images in the set of 27 extreme macro photographs. I am downloading some as Raw files right now for further examination and you can too if you wish. I have a renewed appreciation of our insectile fellow citizens of this world after watching David Attenborough’s latest 3D documentary series Conquest of the Skies. I wonder who made these excellent photographs on the Venus Optics site? Credits please, Venus Optics!
The Venus 60mm f/2.8 Ultra-Macro is no slouch when it comes to normal, non-macro photography too, as shown by a gallery of photographs of people and cats in public spaces as well as some outdoors video footage.
During analog film days some of my favourite optics in 35mm and 120 format were macro lenses that also worked well for normal photography, especially close-up portraits. These lenses helped form my celebrity portrait photography style during the years I worked for glossy magazines and I would love to extend that look into moviemaking.
Venus Optics’ very first lens may be the one to help me do that if the evidence in the company’s gallery and footage pages are anything to go by. I look forward to seeing more results from the lens and especially with it adapted to Micro Four Thirds cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GH4.
Venus Optics Announces the Venus 60mm f/2.8 Ultra-Macro Lens, the World’s First 2:1 Magnification Lens with Infinity Focus
Anhui China, Sept 14, 2014 – Venus Optics, a new Chinese manufacturer of camera lenses, has unveiled the world’s first 60mm f/2.8 2X Ultra-Macro lens, with focusing range from 18.5cm to infinity.
The new Venus 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens features a magnification range from 0.1x to 2x. Users could easily alter the magnification ratio without installing any extension tube or teleconverter, making it ideally suited for rapidly changing macro photography scenarios. This wide magnification range also makes it extremely useful for shooting macro objects (e.g. insects) with different sizes. Moreover, the lens is also designed for normal shooting purposes with a 60mm focal length, which provides an all-in-one solution for normal portrait shooting as well as ultra-macro photography.
The lens houses with 9 elements in 7 groups patented optical structure to provide great deal of image clarity and color renderness. The optical system consists of 2 major moving lenses groups in order to minimize the barrel distortion. 14 pieces of aperture blades form a close-to-circular aperture, capable of creating creamy shallow depth of view. The enclosure of the lens is made of metal to strengthen its durability. A complimentary lens pouch and filter are included in the package. Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony Alpha and Pentax K mount are available.
Sample photos and videos can be found in our English website (www.venuslens.net)
Pricing and Availability
Venus 60mm f/2.8 2X Ultra-Macro Lens is currently available at authorized resellers and at the English official website (www.venuslens.net). The recommended retail price is at USD 379. Free shipping will be provided during the promotion period.
Anhui ChangGeng Optical Technology Company Limited (Venus Optics) is a new Chinese camera lens manufacturer based in Hefei, Anhui. We currently manufacture and distribute Macro lenses under the brand name of ‘Venus’.
For more information about Anhui ChangGeng Optical Technology Company Limited and our products information, visit www.venuslens.net/
(cover photo credit: snap from Karin Gottschalk)