Meike 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye CS Lens Review

Meike 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye CS Lens Review - John Riley takes a wider look at the World with the 8mm f/3.5 fisheye lens from Meike.

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MEIKE 8mm f/3.5 in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Meike 8mm F3,5 Vertical View

Meike continues to develop its lens range, producing interesting manual focus lenses at very reasonable prices. The Meike 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye is reviewed here using the Nikon D810. Fisheye lenses, of which there are now several options available, are a powerful creative tool, or an acquired taste, depending on our point of view. Let's take a closer look and see how this new lens performs.

Meike 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye Handling and Features

Meike 8mm F3,5 Front Oblique View

The lens is quite heavy for its modest size, weighing in at 519g, and no doubt the 11 element in 8 groups optical construction adds much of that weight in glass. The front element is domed and potentially vulnerable to damage, so use of the removable lens hood would be highly desirable. Unfortunately, in the sample received at least, the lens hood is a very poor fit and will not lock home in the correct position. This is particularly unfortunate with a very wide fisheye lens that goes beyond the usual 180 degrees and actually gives 200 degrees diagonal coverage as the edges of the hood can easily intrude on the image area. Equally, unfortunately, the large plastic lens cap needs to be fitted on to the hood to be used. Interestingly, video reviews on the internet show the lens being used without the hood in place, which is how I opted to proceed.

There is no possibility of adding filters to a lens as wide as this, so moving backwards we next find the wide and comfortable focusing ring. Focusing on a DSLR like the Nikon D810 is well nigh impossible as there is so much depth of field that the point of sharp focus cannot be judged. This is not a problem that is limited to the Meike lens however, but more a characteristic of manual focus fisheye lenses in general. The optical viewfinder, of course, shows the full frame 35mm-format image, and here the Meike 8mm fisheye shows a cut off circular image. Other formats can be selected on the Nikon and the APS-C crop gives a full image without cut off. Here the Live View is superior as it shows the correct field of view without the extraneous bits that the optical viewfinder reveals. This will also be true of the versions for Fuji X mount, Sony E mount and MFT cameras where the camera monitor or the EVF are used. Closest focus distance marked is a very close 0.1m, or 3.94 inches. The diaphragm consists of 9 blades, which offer a nicely circular aperture.

Meike 8mm F3,5 On Nikon D810

Further towards the mount, we find the aperture ring, very lightly click stopped and very smooth in action. There is no depth of field scale, but there are clear distance markings in feet and metres. There is an odd progression of apertures that goes from f/3.5 to f/4.8, but then from f/5.6 the marking follows normal convention through to f/22. The metal mount is well engineered and fits smoothly and snugly.

This is not the easiest lens to use, being even wider in its field of view than most fisheye lenses. Certainly, it takes some watching to ensure our own feet are not in the image. For ease of composition without distractions, an EVF or the camera monitor will show the most uncluttered view or the optical viewfinder of an APS-C format DSLR. The full frame DSLR shows a very untidy image field through the viewfinder. Oddly, the lens box claims this is a full frame lens, but it is clearly not.

If the advice to move close and then closer applies well to most ultra-wide lenses, then it applies even more so to the fisheye. Images can easily become predictable, so its use needs a bold sense of composition. Having said that, reasonably normal looking landscapes can be shot if the horizon falls in the centre of the field of view. Fisheye lenses once were very expensive and esoteric objects, but now they are easily within the budget of most photographers and are definitely a lot of fun to master.

Meike 8mm F3,5 Rear Oblique View

Meike 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye Performance

Sharpness is a surprise strength of the design, when stopped down. We start off centrally with just a fair standard of sharpness, from f/3.5 to f/4.8. But at f/5.6 this rises to excellent and becomes outstanding at f/8 and f/11. f/16 is excellent and results are still good at f/22.

At the edges of the APS-C field f/3.5 and f/4.8 are fairly sharp only, this rising to very good at f/5.6 and excellent at f/8 and f/11. Still very good at f/16, sharpness then falls to fair at f/22.

 
Meike 8mm MTF
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 Nikon D810 using Imatest.


CA (Chromatic Aberration) is actually very reasonable for a fisheye lens. It can be seen at the corners of the image in particular, but at the edges control is still very good. Once we reach the outer limits though, such as the circular crop of a full frame camera, then the outer circle edge is a wide band of bright purple fringing. This does not impinge on the APS-C image field.

 
Meike 8mm CA Chart
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 Nikon D810 using Imatest.

As the lens hood fits so badly, it is fortunate indeed that the resistance to flare is amazing. Even with the sun in the frame, through trees, there is no sign of a loss of contrast or of unwanted artefacts.

All fisheye lenses, by their very nature, have excessive amounts of barrel distortion. If they didn't we would be asking for a refund. The Meike 8mm bends lines beautifully and Imatest was defeated and unable to cope with the excessive distortion. So there is no distortion figure, suffice it so say that the lens delivers as expected.

The manufacturers claim beautiful bokeh for the lens, and it is true that the out of focus areas, such as they are, have a pleasant enough quality. However, so much is in focus that the effect is not as strongly seen as it would be in longer lenses.

Overall, the performance of the lens is very satisfactory.


MEIKE 8mm f/3.5 Sample Photos

Value For Money

The Meike 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye lens is currently priced at $199, which would currently equate to around £165. An obvious alternative would be the previously tested Kelda 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye (around $180) or the Samyang 8mm f/3.5 UMC CS II fisheye lens at £259.

When we cast the net wider, there is a dazzling array of fisheye lenses, both frame filling designs and circular image designs.

Those throwing a proper circular image (not cut off as in the Meike) include the Sigma 4.5mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM Circular (£599) and the Lensbaby Circular Fisheye (£259).

Frame filling lenses, almost all designed for smaller formats such as APS-C or MFT, include the Sigma 10mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM Diagonal (£479), Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG (£499), Nikon AF 10.5mm f/2.8 G IF-ED (£585), Sony 16mm f/2.8 (£799), Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 8mm f/1.8 PRO (£799).

There are also numerous fisheye zooms, body cap fisheye lenses and front lens converters, plus, for the diminutive Pentax Q system, the SMC Pentax 3.2mm f/5.6 at £79.

Amongst all this, the Meike has to be seen as good value, a relatively inexpensive way to acquire a fisheye lens that is capable of impressive results.

Meike 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye Verdict

The Meike 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye lens is an inexpensive entry into fisheye photography. It is also wider than most fisheye lenses. The biggest drawbacks are the poorly fitting lens hood and the real difficulty in focusing manually.

However, when we nail the focus, the resulting images are capable of an impressively high level of sharpness with an almost complete resistance to flare. As a creative tool, it is hard to fault at the price.  

Meike 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye Pros

  • Impressive sharpness
  • No tendency to flare
  • Low CA levels
  • Low price
  • Creative possibilities

Meike 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye Cons

  • Badly fitting lens hood
  • Very difficult to manually focus

Features2.5/5
Handling3/5
Performance4/5
Value4/5
Overall Verdict


MEIKE 8mm f/3.5 Specifications

ManufacturerMEIKE
General
Lens Mounts
  • Nikon F
  • Canon EF
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
  • Sony E Mount
Lens
Focal Length8mm
Angle of View200
Max Aperturef/3.5
Min Aperturef/22
Filter SizeNo Data
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus10cm
Construction
Blades9
Elements11
Groups8
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight519g
HeightNo Data

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