Tiny and dirt cheap, that’s the usual qualities that almost all Meike lenses share. Some of these cheap lenses are good, while some are crap.
This particular lens, the Meike 25mm F1.8, falls squarely into the “good” category.
In this review, we’ll be pairing it with the Sony a6000 and seeing how this budget little Chinese lens actually performs.
Let’s dive in!
Looking for just a quick summary before jumping in?
Size & Weight
As a lover of compact kits, the Meike 25mm F1.8 was an absolute delight.
The lens measures only 1.46 inches (3.7cm), making it easily pocketable. This is awesome as I absolutely love pocketable setups.
As for weight, this little lens comes in at about 7.4oz (210g). This is certainly lightweight, but actually a bit more hefty than I expected. This unexpected weight comes from its shockingly nice build quality.
Is the lens built well?
Speaking of build quality, the Meike 25mm F1.8 is completely made of metal like most of the company’s other offerings. For the price, it’s really nice to have a lens that feels as “nice” as this one.
Even the lens cap is metal, although it’s a slip on/off kind, so it’s rather prone to getting lost easily.
So is the lens built to last? Maybe. It should be noted that a lot of Meike lenses are known for having inconsistent quality control, so it can be a bit of a crapshoot.
My copy was fully functional and in good shape, but I’ve heard of many other users who haven’t been so lucky. Thankfully, I’ve found that these low-budget lens companies tend to be pretty generous with their return policies.
The beauty of a lens is certainly subjective, but I’m a big fan of how a lot of these cheap Chinese lenses look.
The full metal barrel is finished with a sleek black finish which contrasts quite well against the white text.
There’s even a lovely “silver” ring that frames the front of the lens, which I thought was just a nice little premium touch.
Ergonomically, I found the lens to be fairly comfortable to use. It adds barely any heft and weight to your camera, so hand fatigue is pretty much a non-concern.
Couple that with the fact that its literally pocketable and you’ve got an awesome lens that you can carry with you all day long.
Admittedly though, I found the small size to be a bit problematic at times. I’m the type that generally has one hand on the lens when trying to stabilize my shots, and this little thing was too tiny to get a solid grip on.
For the price, sharpness certainly didn’t disappoint. The Meike 25mm F1.8 isn’t perfect, but for the price point it’s hard to complain.
To begin, shooting wide open (F1.8) provides somewhat lackluster quality.
The corners are visibly soft and lack contrast, and even the center looks a little muddy if you pixel peep.
This isn’t necessarily surprising, as most lenses show their flaws when at their brightest aperture.
Stopping down, of course, leads to better optical performance.
Even dropping down to just F2 evens out the frame quite a bit, leading to less mushy corners and a completely sharp center.
I found peak sharpness to be around F5.6, with diffraction hitting hard starting at F16.
Optical Quirks & Flaws
The lens isn’t without other problems, though. The issue that cheap lenses tend to struggle with the most is flare resistance, and this one is no exception.
If you end up shooting into sunlight, do your best to create a “makeshift lens hood” with your hands, otherwise you’ll be suffering from a lot of ghosting and lack of contrast.
If you’ve ever wanted to get JJ Abrams level of lens flare, this is the lens for you. (ok, maybe not that extreme)
Distortion is another aspect in which this lens struggles with.
While it’s mostly correctable in post processing, you may run into issues when attempting to shoot straight lines such as architecture.
I wouldn’t say it’s an absolute dealbreaker, but it’s certainly something to be aware of.
Finally, two aspects in which the lens doesn’t struggle with are chromatic aberrations and vignette.
Vignette is minor and easily fixed in post processing, and chromatic aberration is so well controlled that I didn’t notice anything egregious when pixel peeping.
Overall Optical Performance
Overall, I’m really impressed with the optical performance of this lens.
Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Not by any means. Would I take it on a pro shoot? Nope!
For the price though, I’m very happy with how it performs.
Focusing & Other Notes
Next up, we’re going to focus on focusing! The Meike 25mm F1.8 is entirely manual, as stated prior, and I found the MF experience to be pleasant.
The focusing ring has a sort of ridged-type design that acts as a grip allowing for smooth and very precise manual focus. The ring was adequately dampened and, although it didn’t feel as “good” as some lenses, still felt great to use.
Still, it worked just as well as most other MF lenses, especially coupled with Sony’s excellent focus assists such as peaking and magnifier.
By the way, if you’re unfamiliar with manual focus and want to learn more, I’d suggest reading my complete guide to MF for Sony cameras.
In addition to being manual focus, the Meike 25mm F1.8 also has a physical aperture ring. It works well, and was tight enough (it’s declicked) to where I didn’t slide it out of place too often on accident.
In addition, the lens rocks a small distance meter, which I found looked (aesthetically) really nice, though I’m not sure how accurate it actually was.
My Final Thoughts
Before I round of my reviews, I generally like to give a few alternatives to consider.
This lens falls deep into the “ultra-budget” category, so it’s hard to make direct comparisons, but here’s two for your consideration.
Neewer 35mm F1.7
Although a bit tighter, I’d consider the Neewer 35mm F1.7 the most direct comparison.
They’re similar sizes and prices, but the Neewer offer slightly better image quality without as many faults.
I’ve personally owned the Neewer lens for about two years and I’ve really come to like it a lot.
Sigma 30mm F1.4
Next, we have the Sigma 30mm F1.4. Now, the Sigma is a bit more expensive, but I would still consider it a very, very affordable lens.
It’s one of the sharpest lenses for Sony APS-C, built like a tank, and has excellent autofocus. I’ve owned it for four years and you really can’t go wrong with it.
Highly, highly suggest going with the Sigma.
Anyway, if you’ve decided that want to stay as budget as possible, the Meike 25mm F1.8 really is a solid pick.
Despite the heavy flaring (JJ Abrams would be proud), the overall image quality didn’t disappoint.
Not only that, but the tiny, tiny size and shockingly solid build quality really make this lens worth it for the price.
If you’d like to pick it up for yourself, I’ve included a purchase link below. Thanks for reading!
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