How to Capture Immersive Content with Probe Lens

What is a Probe Lens?

A probe lens is a long lens that can capture wide-angle macro shots. The elongated, narrow design allows for a unique perspective for viewers. It enables filmmakers to place the lens in places the average camera cannot reach. The probe lens is ideal for filmmakers who want to expand their horizons and create videos with an edge.

Probe Lens and Macro Lens: What's the Difference?

Comparing each lens side by side, their differences are apparent.

The Probe Lens differs from a generic Macro Lens in its ability to maneuver in small spaces. Since the Probe Lens is narrow and long, it provides a more immersive perspective than the average macro lens.

The Macro Lens is short and lacks the ability to maneuver in small spaces because it is closely attached to the iPhone camera.

Overall, both are great for capturing close-up shots.

Getting Started with a Probe Lens

The first time you use a probe lens can present a learning curve. It’s best to play around with it and see where your creativity takes you. As a springboard, here are items to capture and ideas for how to shoot with a probe lens:
Items to Capture with Probe Lens:

1. Food
2. Plants
3. Arts and Crafts
4. Fashion
5. Bugs
How to Film with Probe Lens:

Filming with the Probe Lens is all about the angles.

1. Follow Movement
Use the probe lens to follow the natural movement of an object. Whether it be turning a page of a book, zipping up a jacket, or following a walking bug.

2. Go Through an Object
Let the viewer see what is inside an object, by going through it. Inside a piece of clothing or your favorite snack product, viewers can see from a bug’s eye view.

3. Ride the Rim of an Object
Swiftly pass by an object, and show the outer appearance up close. Follow the rim of a flat surfaced object, like a keyboard.

6 Tips and Tricks for Filming with a Probe Lens

1. Cinema Slider

Because a probe lens is designed to track a subject either pushing in or out of a specific area, we recommend using the SANDMARC Cinema Slider to achieve smooth controlled motion over your lens.

The longer the lens, the more shakes will be visible in your footage, compromising the immersive quality of the video.

If you experience bumps while shooting, you can adjust the traction of your Cinema Slider using the dial. Loosening the dial will make moving the platform easier while tightening will create more tension.

Gently stabilize the lens to stifle tremors or shakes while shooting.
2. Lighting

The front of the lens also features a built-in LED ring light. This light is powered via a micro USB port on the barrel, providing strong illumination on close-up subjects for easier focusing.

Illuminating subjects when shooting this close-up is paramount, and with the option to choose between high and low levels of light, you can fully customize your shooting experience in different locations.

The LED light is important to have on, clear close-up shots, but it will also be necessary to have fill lights to control any shadows.
3. Action Mode

Use Action Mode; this setting will help you stabilize shaky footage and achieve the ultra-smooth pan that you're looking for.

The downside is that you will have to shoot in a lower resolution, but if you can perfect the lighting and focus, you can still achieve an ultra-sharp shot in Action Mode.

In some cases, even if your footage has a few bumps, newer models of the iPhone can stabilize it. Additionally, depending on your subject, the bumps may be undetectable if there's a lot of movement in the subject you're passing through.
4. Go Slow

Because of the magnification of the lens, the human eye will have a hard time focusing if your footage is too fast.

If you go very slow, you will minimize the shakes, and then in post, you can speed it up to 2x for a more natural-looking speed.
5. Third-Party Camera App

We recommend the Blackmagic Camera app because of its customization and quality.
6. Shoot in RAW

Depending on what you'd like to shoot, we'd recommend using the highest resolution available on your iPhone and shooting in RAW for greater flexibility with color grading.

For more information check out our blog: Best Video Settings for iPhone.
Additional Gear:

Check out the SANDMARC Tripod, Cinema Slider or Creator Grip to give your Probe Lens an extra boost.
The SANDMARC Probe Lens is a great lens to add to your gear to elevate your filmmaking. Any scene captured with the Probe Lens is sure to wow your viewers!