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Meike 35mm f/1.7 Lens Review

Meike 35mm f/1.7 Lens Review  - John Riley puts the new Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens for mirrorless cameras to the test to see how well this reasonably priced lens performs.

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MEIKE 35mm f/1.7 in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Meike 35mm F1,7 Front Oblique View

One of three new lenses (the others are a 50mm f/2.0, and 28mm f/2.8) from Hong Kong Meike Digital Technology. Meike means “beauty” (Mei) and “technology” (Ke) and immediately the lenses remind us of how small and light manual focus optics used to be. We'll now take a look at this intriguing meeting of beauty and technology and see how it bears fruit.

 

Meike 35mm f/1.7 Handling and Features

Meike 35mm F1,7 Vertical View

The lens is of metal construction and highly reminiscent of the Asahi Pentax Super-Takumar lenses of the 1960s. The knurled metal focusing ring looks very similar to those classic lenses, and the distance scale is found within a similar cut-out in the lens barrel. There is a depth of field scale provided and distances are marked in both feet and metres. Focusing is by helical thread, the whole optical unit extending forwards as we focus closer. The front element does not rotate, so use of polarising and graduated filters is much easier. A push on plastic lens cap is provided and this shows no signs of being likely to fall off in use.

The focusing action of the lens is just a whisker short of the delightful silkiness that some classic lenses have, which at this price level is commendable. The aperture ring is slightly firmer in action than the 50mm f/2 tested at the same time, but still smooth in operation. The overall finish of the lens is of a good standard.

The six element in five groups optics are multi-coated, closest focus is 1 foot (0.3m) and the lens takes inexpensive 49mm thread filters. Maximum magnification is 0.113x. The diaphragm has eight blades. Finally, the lens weighs just 172g.

The aperture ring is unusual. It has no click stops and remains closed to whatever value is set. This will be useful for video shooters but less so for those shooting stills. The progression of apertures marked is f/1.7, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/8 and f/22. There is no obvious advantage to this departure from the normal markings.

Meike 35mm F1,7 On Lumix G6

Although supplied for review in Micro 4/3 mount, the lens is marked as suitable for APS-C format. Accordingly, it is also available for other CSCs including Sony E mount, Canon EOS M mount, Nikon 1 series and Fujifilm X mount. The 35mm-format equivalent will be 70mm on Micro 4/3 cameras and around 50mm on APS-C. This is a useful short telephoto length or a standard lens for APS-C.

There is a highly polished metal mount, smooth and positive and matching the Panasonic Lumix G6 used for this review perfectly. There are no electronic contacts, so the camera does not know the aperture set. The Lumix G6 works fine in manual and aperture priority modes and meters correctly when the lens is stopped down.

In use, the lens is easy to focus, provided this is done at full aperture. There being no auto stop-down it is then necessary to turn the aperture ring to the desired setting. Unfortunately, the absence of click stops means that this is done by guess unless the camera is taken from the eye to look at the settings. With practice, this guess can be honed and could become quite accurate, but the precise value set will not be known unless constantly checked and noted.

Although the lens looks very much like a Super-Takumar from the 1960s, the focusing ring and aperture ring both work in the opposite direction to those lenses. This is something that becomes more important with manual focus in that, mixing lenses that work in opposite directions slows down the process of shooting. Otherwise, there are no handling issues and using the lens is a pleasure.

Meike 35mm F1,7 Rear Oblique View

Meike 35mm f/1.7 Performance

The expectation for this lens inevitably will be set against its modest £63.99 price tag, although there are no electronic or mechanical complications in it so there are many areas where costs of production can be lower without necessarily sacrificing performance.


 

 
Meike 35mm F1 7 MTF
Meike 35mm MTF
 

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. 

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix G6 using Imatest
 
Meike 35mm F1 7 CA
Meike 35mm CA
 

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 minimise the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix G6 using Imatest.

 

 

The overall look of the images is very good, with nice colour, lovely bokeh and very well controlled CA (Chromatic Aberration). CA is in fact even lower than the already impressive 50mm f/2 from the same range. Distortion measures at -1.57% barrel. CA and distortion can, in any event, be corrected in software.

Flare is well under control, the lens handling light sources within the field of view extremely well. Even so, although there is no lens hood supplied, use of one is to be recommended. They are readily available.

Sharpness starts off at a very good level centrally at f/1.7, becoming excellent between f/2.8 and f/8, before dropping to just fair at f/22. Centrally, the lens is at its sharpest at f/2.8. The edges are very soft, with only fair sharpness at all apertures apart from f/8 where it does peak at a very good level. Overall, the most even aperture edge to edge is f/8.

MEIKE 35mm f/1.7 Sample Photos

Value For Money

The Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens is available for £63.99, a very modest cost for any lens.

Looking at the alternatives, there are a huge number of 35mm or thereabouts lenses, some costing over £3000. Obviously, some of these would be an unfair comparison for the Meike, and if we were buying them we would no doubt have some specific purpose in mind.

So, looking at the most reasonably priced, we have for DSLRs: Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM A for Canon is priced at £299, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 G AF-S DX is £151, the Sony DT 30mm f/2.8 SAM Macro is £139, the Sony 35mm f/1.8 DT SAM is £149, and the SMC Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.4 is £119.

For CSCs, Fujifilm users have the Fujifilm 35mm f/2 WR at £299, Nikon 1 users have the Nikkor 32mm f/1.2 at £649, Sony E mount users have the Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro at £172, the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 DN at £119, and the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN at £249. Micro Four Thirds users have the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 at £119, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN at £249, and the Panasonic Lumix G 30mm f/2.8 Macro at £279. 

This is not an exhaustive list, and does not include the more expensive options. It does show that there are some very low priced options available that have AF, communicate fully with the camera bodies and are sharper than the Meike.

 

Meike 35mm f/1.7 Verdict

The Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens is a well made, attractive optic in a very traditional way. It is totally manual in every respect and as such needs some care in use to get the best out of it. Purists may love this lens and will be rewarded with excellent central sharpness, but really quite soft edges to the images. This may suit portraiture, and on MFT format the 75mm 35mm-equivalent is fine for this. On APS-C the equivalent is more like a 50mm standard lens, so a bit on the short side for pictures of people.

At the price asked, it could well be worth giving this lens a shot and seeing how it might be used creatively to produce distinctive images.

Meike 35mm f/1.7 Pros

Excellent central sharpness
Very well controlled CA
Good quality of construction
A lens for the purist
Low price

Meike 35mm f/1.7 Cons

Soft edges
No AF
No electronic communication with camera

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

 

MEIKE 35mm f/1.7 Specifications

ManufacturerMEIKE
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
  • Sony E Mount
  • Nikon 1
  • Canon EOS M
Lens
Focal Length35mm
Angle of ViewNo Data
Max Aperturef/1.7
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size49mm
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnification0.113x
Focusing
Min Focus30cm
Construction
Blades8
Elements6
Groups5
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight172g
HeightNo Data

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Comments


30 May 2016 5:35PM
Excellent review. Could you give a review of Meike 28 2.8? It has pretty nice size as a pancake lens for mirrorless camera, but I'd like to know about optical properties of this lens.

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24 Jan 2018 11:02PM
You can get a lot of vintage lenses plus an adapter for less than this. What do you think about that option?

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