Being an admin of one of the best en most fun Facebook groups that exists on this planet (okay I'm a bit biased ;-)) I get to opportunity to try out lenses made by the Meike company, which they very kindly provide us with, so we can use them for our traveling lens project. In this project selected members of our group (the Micro Four Nerds Facebook group) get the opportunity to try out (Meike) lenses. This time Meike send us the Meike 85mm f/2.8 macro lens. Here are my experiences with this lens.
When I first got the Meike lens, I didn't have much opportunity to do macro photography outside, as it was very windy. Leafs and grass were constantly swaying in the wind. So one of my first shots wasn't an insect doing its thing, but a mother swan with her young gracefully swimming in a nearby lake. This immediately made me aware that there was more to this lens, then only the macro side of it.
This lens is very sharp and this in combination with its focal length may point to it being a very good portrait lens. But shooting this lens at f/2.8 doing this kind of photography, is not very easy. Not only because it is a manual focus lens but also because the focus throw is very short. Which may be great for macro photography but it is not ideal for portrait photography. Although, if you manage the make the shot (and with some practice, this wil become easier) the results can be very satisfying.
Being limited by the weather situation outside, made me think hard about the possibilities that exists inside. So I came up with my next shot. Also a picture of my favourite model, but a bit more macro then my previous shots of her. It was also a selfie. It is a shot of Nikki's eye while she was resting on the couch, looking at me taking a picture of her.
It took me some time to get used to handling this lens. A macro lens is a specialty tool, which takes a lot of time and patience to master. Ideally you should place it on a tripod and use a ring light flash or a flash with a diffuser to get the best results (as you often have to close down the aperture to f11 or even less to get a large enough depth of field). But that's not my style of photography. I'm a bit of a run and gun style of shooter. I like to travel light and hardly ever use a flash or tripod. Despite that, I did manager to get some pretty cool macro shots with it. Even though, I do realise more can be achieved with this lens in the right (experienced) hands.
One of my favourite shots, was the one of this little jumping spider. Macro photography is really a wonderful kind of photography, showing (sometimes beautiful) details of the world you just don't see or notice with the naked eye. This little spider didn't look very interesting, although it did have something cute about it. It's grey and not very striking at all. But seeing it up close, you see the colourful little orange moustache which I didn't even know it had.
This shot was possible because there was a lot of sun light, the spider was momentarily sitting still and the wall of my house (on which is was residing) helped me to keep the camera as steady as possible by leaning against it.
Another jumping spider, maybe even the same one (they all look alike ;-)), was wandering around on the ground. I put the camera on the ground and tried to capture it in the narrow zone of sharpness. When you look in the reflection of its tiny eyes, you can see my silhouette. What must have gone through its microscopic brain, seeing me as a giant being blocking its way.
In my yard there are many dragonflies. They look like they're just enjoying the garden. Hanging around on flowers and on branches. Relaxing, sometimes hanging upside down in the sun, swaying in the wind.
Between the gusts of wind, I picked my moments to take a shot or two to try to get a close up of one of them. Not many close ups ended up as keepers. The models weren't to blame and neither was the lens. It was was solely to the wind and and an inexperienced macro photographer doing their thing ;-)
The Lilies were flowering and their bright colours were an invitation to me to also take a closer look of them with my Meike lens. The ultra thin depth of field makes the bokeh of warm colours oh so soft, in stark contrast the very detailed pistils with pollen.
Flowers attract butterflies, but the ones I tried to capture were a bit shy. Keeping their wings tightly closed, only showing me there boring earth coloured underside. So to make lemonade out of these lemons, I turned one into a high key image, making the butterfly pop, despite the lack of colours.
Most of the time, I start of doing a sniff test with a new close focussing lens. This time I'll end the blog with it. This lens smells like a winner. At least, what macro photography is concerned. I really liked shooting with it. It motivated me as a photographer. There is so much to discover. This positive experience makes the chance that I'll end up buying this lens pretty big.