I can’t deny that 35mm (50mm in full-frame equivalent) is one of the favorite focal lengths among most photographers. And I see why the manufacturers are releasing this focal length at a higher priority and more frequently (with various aperture values) than any other focal length. Having said that, we, photographers, have so many options to choose from when it comes to this focal length.
As far as I know, 4 manufacturers are producing 35mm f0.95 to date. Namely TTArtisan, 7Artisans, Mitakon (Zhongyi), and of course, the main character of this post: Meike.
This is my first time working with Meike and I appreciate Meike for sending me this lens for review. Having said that, this review is not biased but rather based on my true opinion.
I did a short research on the company. The Hong Kong-based manufacturer was established in 2007 and they are specialized in many videography and photography tools and equipment. They have many cine lenses and still lenses (both auto and manual lenses) in their business portfolio. In order words, they are very experienced in this field.
This lens was announced back in October 2022 and comes with massive 6 camera mounts: Sony E, Fujifilm X, Canon EF-M, Nikon Z, Canon RF, and Micro Four Thirds.
Design and Build Quality
From the look of this lens, it has a very distinctive design. The manual focus ring has that unique pattern that not only helps the photographer to “identify” the which ring he/she is rotating. This design is inspired by Voigtlander lenses and some of the older Nikon manual lenses.
(Update 15 April 2023: Special thanks to a friend who pointed out that the Voigtlander and some of the Nikon lenses manual focus ring has the same design.)
Speaking of the focus ring, I shall share my experience with both the manual and aperture rings together. Both have a different texture but they are very comfortable and grippy to hold. Rotating them is a pleasure. They have a good balance of friction and you do not need to apply too much force to rotate.
At 380 grams, it is not as heavy as it seems to be. The weight of the lens is very well distributed and balanced. Also, it has a relatively small filter size. Only 52mm. For context, XF35mm f1.4 and XF18mm f2 are the same filter size.
Oh yes, this lens comes with a metal build body with a cap-on lens cap, which I feel is a quicker removal option than the screw-in lens cap. But a little pity is that the lens cap is made of plastic. Something I am not expecting from a high-quality built lens.
Maybe it is me, but it is a challenge to nail the shot well in wide-open with moving/motion subjects. At f0.95, the image quality has a certain level of softness, lacking some contrast, sharpness, and a very shallow depth of field. It also has some glowing effect on it which sometimes make me think I have taken an off-focused shot.
I also do observe pretty obvious chromatic aberration and vignetting at f0.95. I think that’s acceptable or rather within my expectations for manual lenses with a large aperture. As for overall image quality, I find it is okay and actually much more usable than I thought. If you are picky or pixel-peeper, you will probably not be in favor of the results.
Nonetheless, I can also see better image quality improvement from f2 onwards. But that is not the main purpose of having an f0.95 lens if you want to stop it down to f2 right?
For sunny star result, it gives a much contrast and sharp star result as compared to some of the manual lenses. And also, it introduces some flares as well if facing directly toward the light source.
For most of my other manual lens tests, I always observed that the result is always off-focus when I shoot at the infinity mark. I have to rotate the focus ring somewhere before the infinity mark to get the right infinity shot.
This is also the case for the Meike lens. In order to shoot at actual infinity, rotate to where the printed infinity symbol printed is and not where it’s labeled position.
From MFD to infinity, the focus throw is approximately 90°. Like most manual lenses, this gives a good amount of “distance” for precise focusing. I do have not much of a comment for this department.
Minimum Focus Distance (MFD)
0.39m is its MFD. Not the shortest MFD for its focal length but the image quality from this lens is pretty good. The MFD is very similar to the Ronkinon 35mm f1.2 but a few centimeters further than the average 0.35m from other lens manufacturers have for their lenses.
For reference, the Mitakon 35mm f0.95 is selling at 399 USD. TTArtisan and 7artisan are priced at 199 USD and 229 USD respectively.
Compared with other f0.95 of the same focal length, this lens is priced at 259 USD. Do you think it is expensive? I think Meike priced it just right among the competitors and I think it is still a fair price to have that f0.95 aperture value.
Something interesting to note: it may be due to my camera or its settings. There is an obvious white balance change whenever I changed from other aperture values to f0.95. It does not have a real impact on me since I can change it under In-Camera Raw Processing.
Side by side
I have the TTArtisan 35mm f0.95 with me to compare with this lens. As you can see, they have very different designs, sizes, and approaches. So, which one do you prefer?
Who is this for?
As a manual focus lens, it is targeted a very specific group of photographers who understand the pro and cons of owning this unique lens and knowing what they can achieve from this lens. Having said that, this is a focal length that is very suitable for many genres. And also, it is one of the focal lengths for new photographers to get adapt to easily, especially for first-timer prime lens photographers.
As for professional photographers, unless you know what you want to do with this lens, then you can consider getting one.
There are many manual lenses out in the market and we are spoilt for choice. But if you are planning to get into the brightest and fastest manual lens in the market with a fair decent price. Given that the shots taken wide-open are pretty usable, I think this is one of the lenses for your consideration.
This is my first time testing out this lens from Meike and it leaves me quite a positive impression. Although it shares quite a lot of similarities with other manual lenses in the market, it does stand out quite a bit from them too. Especially on the lens design and image quality at wide open.
Not forgetting that they have launched the first autofocus lens (85mm f1.8) for the Fujifilm community. I am excited to see more products released from them!
1. All the shots taken here are shot by me.
2. Most of the shots are straight out of the camera with some shots edited via In-Camera Raw Processing.
3. The opinions are based on my experience. If there is any mistake, please kindly drop me a message and I will gladly make the amendment.
4. I reserve ownership of these images, if you wish to use my images, please notify me.
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