On Facebook there exists an incredibly fun and active community called the Micro Four Nerds Facebook Community. Which is a spin off from Emily Lowrey's similarly named and equally fun and informative Youtube channel. This FB community recently started the Meike lens project. The idea in short is to share a lens among the members of its group, who try to shoot the best pictures they can with the lens for no more than a week and finally share their pictures and findings about the lens within the group and pass the lens onto the next candidate. The first lens that was up for testing was the Meike 12mm f2.8 and the honour was all mine to start off the project.
I don't want to begin on a negative note, but I have to say I'm a bit disappointed. No, not about the lens. Not at all. But the Meike lens project was meant to be my first on screen video review. I bought a microphone, wrote a short script and watched all of Peter McKinnon's videos ;-) But as faith would have it, just a couple of days after I received the lens I got the flue. If that wasn't enough, during the first and last couple of days I had the lens, the weather was terrible. There was lots and lots and lots of rain.
Not feeling fit enough for a long walk the first thing I did after taking the lens out of the box, was to do the sniff test. I've seen Jared Polin do this in several of his videos to determine the quality of the lens. As I wasn't able to do the sniff test myself, because of my cold, I asked my helpful assistant to do it for me. She informed me, the lens passed the test.
Even a lens this wide, can create a shallow depth of field. Don't expect the creamy softness comparable with lenses with a longer focal length, but at f2.8 it's enough to create some background separation.
After I felt a little bit better I went on some medium long walks, to make as much use of the lens as I could with the time I had, which would ultimately only be a couple of days (during a workweek). I found it pretty tough to find the right subject to photograph, as I'm used to shooting with longer focal lengths most of the time. The most obvious things to photograph this time of year is of course toadstools.
Wide open, the center is pretty sharp but the outer edges of the lens are beautifully out of focus, just how I like it. When I posted the picture below on a website, someone complemented me on adding the blurry edges and therefore putting more focus on the subject. But the somewhat vintage like effect, the blur in combination with the wide angle distortion at the edges, was caused by this lens and not by editting.
Also in this heather shot you can see that characteristic distorted blur, which I'm used to see when using my old M42 mount lenses.
One of the stand out characteristics of this lens is its close focussing abilitie in combination with a very wide viewing angle, which makes it possible to make macro like shots and also include the environment.
Shooting these close ups I found out that it's also very hard to focus with this (manually focus) lens at f2.8. Especially if the foreground element isn't very contrasty. I did not have such problems with the shot below. I placed this little work of art constructed by nature carefully back where I found it, for others to enjoy.
I like to shoot against the sun and also love a good lens flare. So naturally I also tested the lens flare characteristics of this lens. I must say, I prefer an orange/red coloured flare, although this one despite it being green/blue, wasn't too bad.
With the aperture closed down a bit (around f8) this lens is pretty sharp and contrasty across the frame. Which was especially apparent when I used it for some night photography. There is lots of detail to be seen in this shot of the Koppelpoort monument, which can be found in the city of Amersfoort (NL). It is a beautiful structure, part of the historic city wall build in the middle ages.
On my way back to the car, I saw a train stop on the bridge from which I took the Koppelpoort photo. The bridge has a walk way by the way, so I wasn't standing on the tracks (that would be foolish). I quickly set up my camera and tripod and in a hurry I took a 20 second exposure. It wasn't correctly framed, so I took another one. Had to make one more correction and finally shot the one below, just before it started moving again.
This was a fun lens to shoot with. The combination of close focussing and wide angle view make it versatile and sometimes challenging to shoot with at the same time. I also like its bokeh rendering when shot wide open, as it is somewhat reminiscent of the old M42 lenses I own.
Finally some props to the little big girl in the picture below. She's living under the rim of my garbage container, which is standing outside my house. She spins her web and catches flies, until I bring the container to the curb, destroying her web in the proces, for the container to be emptied by the garbage collectors. I imagine she's holding on for dear life when the container gets picked up and emptied. After the container returns, she spins her beautiful web again and goes on with her business. Until the next time the container gets emptied. Respect to the resilience of nature! ;-)