Meike 85mm f/1.8 Review

Meike 85mm f/1.8 Review - John Riley reviews the Meike 85mm f/1.8 - Meike's first auto-focus lens, the full-frame lens is available for Canon cameras.

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MEIKE MK-85mm f/1.8 in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Meike Af 85mm F1,8 Front Oblique View
Innovation and development continue apace at Meike and now we have their first autofocus lens. The Meike AF 85mm f/1.8 takes a well established specification, the classic portrait lens, and adds AF giving it a definite plus in terms of speed of use and general handling. All looks well on paper, so let's see how the lens actually performs and handles and whether it can take on and compete with much more expensive optics.

Meike 85mm f/1.8 Handling and Features

Meike Af 85mm F1,8 Front Vertical View

The lens provided is in Canon fit and for this review coupled with the Canon EOS 5DS R 50mp body. Later it is expected that Meike may follow up with Nikon and Sony FE mount versions. As already mentioned it is an AF lens. It is also designed for full frame bodies, although it could also be used on APS-C format if desired. For Canon, the “35mm format equivalent” would then be 136mm.

The initial impression is of a well made lens, with high quality markings and an excellent standard of overall construction. There is a generously sized petal lens hood provided that bayonets securely into place. There is also a standard 67mm filter thread. The lens weighs in at a very modest 372g, without hood or caps. There is no weather resistance.

The manual focus ring is smooth in operation and not electronic – the lens can be focused manually with the camera switched off. When using AF the manual focus is “full time” which means that after AF has locked on further tweaks can be made manually without having to switch to MF. Focusing is down to 0.85m, or around 3 feet. This is what would be expected from a traditional 85mm lens and is fairly close, certainly close enough for most portraiture, but nowhere near a macro lens.

Meike Af 85mm F1,8 On Canon 5dsr Front View

Closest to the camera body we have the AF/MF switch and also the distance scales, calibrated in feet and metres. There is no depth of field scale, which is always a shame as there is room to engrave one and it could be useful. The AF operation itself is fairly slow, but it finds the spot, generally without hunting. It does make quite a whirring sound. However, at the price levels we are looking at it would be churlish to complain too much as in terms of function it does the job and focuses the lens reliably.

The metal lens mount is well finished, carrying the usual electronic contacts, but also a USB connection that can be used to upgrade the lens firmware. This is a nice idea. The lens bayonets cleanly and smoothly onto the camera, with no roughness or play.

Lens construction is 9 elements in 6 groups, all lens surfaces being multi-coated. This should be adequate for a level level of performance, so let's turn to the performance and see how it worked out.

Meike Af 85mm F1,8 Rear Oblique View

Meike 85mm f/1.8 Performance

Looking first at sharpness, centrally we start off at a very good level at f/1.8 and f/2.8, rising to excellent from f/4 to f/8. Sharpness is still very good at f/11 and f/16, only falling off to fair levels at f/22.

Edge sharpness is quite poor at f/1.8, fair at f/2.8 but then perks up to being very good at f/4 and excellent at f/5.6 to f/8. It is still very good at f/11 and f/16, falling off to being only fair at f/22.

This is a strong result, apart from the edge softness at open aperture. However, as always, this is something that for portraiture might be seen as an advantage and something that could be used creatively to excellent effect.

 

MEIKE MK-85mm f/1.8 MTF Charts

How to read our MTF 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 Canon EOS 5DS R using Imatest.


CA (Chromatic Aberration) is remarkably well controlled throughout the aperture range. It is very unlikely that CA will be seen as a problem and if further correction is ever needed we can of course look to software solutions.

 

MEIKE MK-85mm f/1.8 Chromatic Aberration Charts

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) 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.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5DS R using Imatest.

 


Vignetting at open aperture is quite obvious at -1.5 stops, although this does have a useful side effect in that corners of an image are often darkened in post processing to concentrate our eyes on the centre of the image. Here we have a natural effect, more often seen in wide angle designs. At f/2.8 darkening has reduced to around two thirds of a stop and this has reduced to about one third of a stop by f/4. It doesn't really get any better than this, the mild -0.3 stop vignetting continuing right through the aperture range.

The lens shows +0.63% pincushion distortion, which again is an excellent performance. Further correction could be made in software if the need arose, but for most purposes this would not be necessary.

Performance against the light is excellent as well, and flare was not observed in any of the conditions found throughout the test period.

Bokeh, the quality of the out of focus areas, is beautifully smooth. The amount of selective focus possible with a wide aperture 85mm lens helps anyway and the overall effect is very pleasing. This will be very useful for beautiful portraits, which is one of the areas where an 85mm lens is quite likely to be used. 85mm lenses are also suitable for a wide range of other subjects, including selective architecture, landscapes, short range sports and theatre photography.


MEIKE MK-85mm f/1.8 Sample Photos

 

MEIKE MK-85mm f/1.8 Aperture range

 

Value For Money

With a price of $199 for the US market, we expect that the UK will see something in the order of £185, and if so then this lens is super value indeed.

Alternatives include:

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, £414
Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD, £749
Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G, £489
Sony FE 85mm f/1.8, £599
Lensbaby Velvet 85mm f/1.8, Manual focus, £499 
Neewer 85mm f/1.8, Manual focus, £86
Yongnuo 85mm f/1.8, £150

For more options have a look at the Top 42 Best Portrait Lenses.

 

 

Meike 85mm f/1.8 Verdict

The lens is no trouble to use, it does the job, maybe not with the smooth finesse of more expensive optics, but in a workmanlike and efficient way. At the price, who could complain. For anyone wanting an inexpensive 85mm f/1.8 lens this must be one of the strongest contenders.

Handling being fine, the real bonus is that the optical performance is excellent. Even the edge softness wide open can be seen as an advantage for dreamy portraits, although some may see it as a drawback. Creatively, the lens has lots of potential.

In summary, a fine lens that's very easy to like, at a price where there's little to lose.

Meike 85mm f/1.8 Pros

  • Excellent sharpness
  • Low CA
  • Low distortion
  • Low price
  • Well made

Meike 85mm f/1.8 Cons

  • AF noisy and slow
  • No weather resistance
  • Edge softness wide open

Features4/5
Handling4.5/5
Performance4/5
Value5/5
Overall Verdict

With thanks to CliftonCameras who provided the Canon EOS 5DS R used for testing. 

Own this lens? Let us know what you think of it in the EQDB.

MEIKE MK-85mm f/1.8 Specifications

ManufacturerMEIKE
General
Lens Mounts
  • Canon EF
Lens
Focal Length85mm
Angle of View28.5
Max Aperturef/1.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size67mm
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus85cm
Construction
Blades9
Elements9
Groups6
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens, hood, pouch, rear and front cap, lens cloth, warranty card.
Dimensions
Weight372g
HeightNo Data

View Full Product Details

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