I was very lucky to get my hands on this new Meike 25mm f2 lens before it was released to the general public. I've spent lots of time with it now, and it's fit into my kit quite nicely. The Meike is a fully manual lens, which is designed to be great for both photography and videography.
I went to Chester on a blindingly bright day to try this lens out. You might agree - not ideal lighting - but perhaps the best stress situation to put any new lens to the test.
The build quality - like every Meike lens I've ever tested - is just out of this world. To be honest, it puts the Lumix 25mm 1.4 build to shame, and the Meike is much more affordable. The Meike is a solid metal build quality with silent, smooth aperture and focus rings. Yep, no clicky aperture, so awesome for video work. In fact, the build quality is so great it makes the G7 feel seriously flimsy. This lens is actually heavier than the G7, and heavier than almost every other lens I own.
I'm happy to report the image quality is pin sharp, even at F2, and it looks wonderful for both video and photography. Finding focus is a pleasant experience - the aperture and focus rings feel different and are far enough apart to make the learning curve very small indeed. And with full manual focusing, you can actually trust the markers on the lens and you can achieve some nice pull focus shots when recording video. (Finding focus is made so easy using the focus peaking feature in your camera.)
The downside of manual focus, of course, is if anything changes rapidly you're always playing catch-up. There are some workarounds, like using a higher aperture so that most of the focal range is in focus anyway, or estimating the rough distance to your subject and dialling it in ahead of time before the shot. Still, I did miss a few shots. There was a man on a bike with a dog in the basket. A DOG. In the BASKET. And I completely missed it. But this is the payoff of full manual focus: it'll be great for certain work and not so great for other work, just like any lens.
The only time this lens struggled was when there were lens flares. This obviously isn't a regular occurrence during photography, but it does bear mentioning: the flares from this lens are not entirely pleasing, and the contrast drops significantly when put in very challenging lighting conditions. But don't let that be a deal-breaker - how often, really, do we point the lens directly at the sun/flashgun/etc?
Now that I've had this lens for a number of weeks, it has landed a starring role in my B-roll shooting. It gives a great depth of field, the focus is always accurate and quick to find, and the weight of the lens helps me keep shots nice and steady. I love this lens more for video than photo, but it takes a damn good photo too.
Oh, and I almost forgot: the focus distance. You can get pretty close to the subject. It is actually wonderful for B-roll. I reach for this lens before the Lumix Leica 25mm 1.4, even!
I can't wait for more people to use this lens, I'm interested to see what great things will come of it.
You can see what the lens looks like in more detail, as well as more photo and video examples in the embedded video at the top of this blog post. Or, ya know, you can subscribe to my channel www.youtube.com/microfournerds to keep up to date with awesome reviews just like this one ;)