Two new pieces from the mantises that recently died. The disc is now seal in it's own case. I shoot them before putting them because it's easier and looks better. The second one was made in its case. The shatter effect was purposeful. I noticed that the fumes from the resin causes acrylic to shatter in appearance but still hold it's from. Looks incredible.
Here's a quick little size comparison between captive female and wild caught female Chinese Mantis. The captive raised from hatch and the wild caught was found here in Omaha NE. The wild caught is about 25% bigger than the captive. This is known thing in the mantis community. Similarly fertility is also markedly higher in wild caught specimens. The assumption is that is has to do with nutrition, particularly the lack of pollinators as a food source. You can actually buy pollen to coat or gut load your feeders with. Supposedly it increases size and fertility but I haven't messed with it enough to have an opinion.
I picked up a copy of the Laowa 15mm macro lens about a year ago. The lens is fairly unique in the world of the photography. It is a wide angle 1:1 macro lens with 4mm of shift. The shift is more geared towards crop sensor cameras as it will lead to severe mechanical vignetting on full frame cameras. On full frame maybe the first 2mm of shift is usable before darkening becomes problematic. Regardless the whole idea of the lens is a right good giggle. Insect photographers are finally given access to a sizable depth of field and wide angle of view allowing for some much needed diversity in the appearance of that niche of photos.
I picked up the lens (with some irony) not for insect photography but for creating faux landscapes. Part of what makes a photograph read as a landscape is the angle of view. Further helping it read as a formal landscape is the shift allowing for a modicum of perspective correction. The lens isn't perfect. As usual for wide angles the corners are a tad soft and while overall its sharpness is impressive it doesn't compare to the high end Canon lenses I use for everything else. Still for the money the lens has a impressive punch and is acceptable in sharpness. Build quality leaves nothing desired as the lens is predominantly constructed from metal. The lens is fully manual in aperture and focus with smooth actions in both. The only real point of annoyance would be that lens' front shifts back and and forth with focus. Since I often shoot against the glass of fish tanks for these photos I find myself having to shift the camera as I focus. Annoying but not a real problem.
- solid construction
- unique access to wide angle field of view in macro
- shift (only partially usable on full frame)
- smooth action for focus and aperture control
- sharp enough
- stellar price point
Could be better
- no auto-focus or auto-aperture (though this helps keep the price amazing)
- larger image circle for more usable shift on full frame
- moving front element while focusing
As I shoot with it more I will add to the images above.