Outstanding central sharpness
Good flare resistance
Built in hood
Edges soft till f/2
Manual focus only
There is currently an amazing variety of specialist lenses in the marketplace, a testament to the healthy innovation originating in some relatively small optical manufacturers. The Meike 25mm f/0.95 is the latest manual focus ultra-bright lens to appear, a solid metal and glass optic supplied for review along with the Panasonic Lumix G6. Let’s see if this turns out to be a magical combination.
Handling and Features
The Meike 25mm f/0.95, here reviewed in MFT fit, is designed for CSC cameras with formats up to APS-C size. The 35mm-equivalents are 50mm and 37.5mm respectively. This equates to a traditional standard lens on MFT and a wide standard on APS-C. This is and always has been an excellent general purpose, high-quality focal length. The difference is, of course, the ultra-bright f/0.95 aperture. This is not unique, but it is uncommon and certainly can be very expensive.
The lens feels heavy for its size, being mainly metal in construction. It weighs in at 540g. From the front, we find a useful but not particularly deep pull-out lens hood. It’s a nice touch and makes use of the lens hood as convenient as possible. Lens hoods are always a good idea, and if convenient they will be used, hopefully, all the time. The front element is surrounded by the 55mm filter thread. Peering into the glass we see the 12 bladed diaphragm, almost perfectly circular and no doubt helping to improve the bokeh of the lens. The diaphragm is totally manual, so stays where it is set.
The wide and comfortable focusing ring is marked in feet and metres and behind this a depth of field scale is provided. These scales are rarely accurate, but definitely useful in providing a rough guide. Finally, the aperture ring is marked with several of the normal values not shown. There are no click stops, fine for video shooters, not so helpful for stills as the aperture set has to be guessed if the camera is kept to the eye. Both focusing and aperture rings are smooth and precise in their action.
The bayonet mount is well made, although a slight amount of rotational play can be felt. This will not affect the focus of the lens and is very slight, but it does indicate a slight lack of precision.
Optical construction is 12 elements in 10 groups. The lens focuses down to 0.17m, or 0.6 feet. This is a maximum magnification of 0.135x.
Handling is very straightforward, the manual focus point being very precise as a consequence of the minuscule depth of field at f/0.95. Focusing at open aperture and then stopping down to make the exposure seems to work fine, the only difficulty being estimating the aperture set. That is, if we don’t want to bring the camera away from the eye to actually look at the value set. In practice, I would suggest focusing at f/0.95, closing the lens all the way to f/22 and then learning how far to turn it back to the common settings used, such as f/8. This can be surprisingly accurate after a short while. The only difficulty is keeping the spot at wider apertures, so with moving subjects such as people it may take a number of shots to catch the eye exactly at the right focus point.
Sharpness centrally is very good even at f/0.95, excellent by f/2 and outstanding from f/2.8 to f/8. F/11 is still excellent, and even f/22 gives a very good account of itself. This is a very satisfactory performance and results are beautifully crisp. That bright aperture really is usable.
The edges start off quite soft, but by f/2 results are good, very good at f/2.8 and f/4, excellent by f/8 and then remaining very good at f/11. The next marked aperture is f/22, by which time results have dropped to good. The most even aperture from edge to edge is f/8.
How to read our charts
The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.
The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.
As expected for a fast “standard” lens, there is some barrel distortion, measuring -2.74%. This can be addressed in software. Likewise, CA (chromatic aberration) can be removed using software. Centrally, CA is very well controlled anyway, and even at the edges is rather less than one pixel. This is not an issue with most subjects.
How to read our charts
Chromatic aberration is the lens’ inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.
Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.
Bokeh, also as expected, is really smooth, especially at the wider apertures. This is a combination of the bright f/0.95 aperture, but also the 12 bladed diaphragm. Despite the wide aperture, the lens is remarkably free from flare issues, even with light sources included in the picture area.
Overall, this is a very impressive performance and the lens is indeed a high-quality offering.