Today, I want to look at yet another cheap Chinese lens, the Meike 28mm F2.8.
It’s tiny, it’s small, and it’s dirt cheap. So, how does it stack up against competitors?
Let’s find out!
Looking for just a quick summary before jumping in?
Size & Weight
As I alluded to in the intro, the Meike 28mm F2.8 is literally the smallest lens I have ever had the pleasure of using.
I’m a big fan of compact kits and this thing just blew me away, measuring a length of, quite literally, only 1 inch (2.4cm).
Seriously, it’s THAT small. And, as icing on the cake, it only weighs a measly 3.6oz (102g).
No joke, I felt like I was using a point and shoot. It turned my a6000 into a pocket camera.
Is the lens well built?
Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Anyone who has used these cheap off-brand lenses will tell you that build quality is always incredibly hit or miss.
I tend to get pretty lucky with my lens purchases, but I’ve heard complaints about shaky barrels and poorly fitted (aka useless) lens caps with this one.
With that being said, the (admittedly tiny) lens barrel is made entirely out of metal, as are the lens caps. Time will tell if the lens actually holds up, but my copy seems alright.
Speaking of metal, I personally think the lens is pretty cute. I understand aesthetic beauty is subjective, but the Meike 28mm F2.8 has a clean and minimalist look, partially due to its small size.
The text pops pretty nicely against the sleek black metal, and it honestly looks (visually) a bit more premium than it actually is.
So, given how tiny the lens is, the sharpness is what surprised me the most.
The Meike 28mm F2.8 was a little soft wide open, but by F4 the entire frame is consistently sharp, and it seemed to peak around F5.6.
This impressed me a lot, as most of these super cheap budget lenses suffer from awful corner sharpness.
Optical Quirks & Flaws
No lens is perfect, however, and this one is not an exception.
Flaring is pretty rough, so shooting into direct sun is nearly impossible.
I’ve found this to be a trend on almost all ultra-budget lenses. My Neewer 35mm F1.7 makes me feel like JJ Abrams whenever I’m shooting into bright lights.
Vignette tends to be pretty strong, but it starts to dissipate around F5.6.
Regardless, even when shooting wide open, I found that you can pretty easily fix it in post-processing.
Even when shooting in tough conditions (for example, tree branches against a sunlit sky), chromatic aberrations tend to be minimal and easily corrected in post processing.
Distortion can be a bit heavy, but it’s nothing a single click in Lightroom isn’t able to fix.
Overall Optical Performance
I was fairly impressed with the optical performance of the Meike 28mm F2.8.
Is it spectacular? Absolutely not. Is it good for the price? Absolutely yes.
Remember, we’re looking at a lens that is literally an inch long, weighs a couple ounces, and costs almost nothing. I’m shocked it can produce such nice images.
Focusing & Other Notes
As I mentioned prior, the Meike 28mm F2.8 is entirely manual focus. To my surprise, the focusing ring (despite being tiny) felt well dampened and quite concise.
If you’re reading this and haven’t dabbled in manual focus in the past, I’d encourage you to read my complete guide on manual focus for Sony cameras. It’s a great read for both new photographers & veterans.
The physical aperture ring turned smoothly, but I found it to be potentially a bit inaccurate.
It’s a bit hard to explain, but upon turning the ring, you had to move it a bit before you start to see the aperture blades moving inside the lens.
It didn’t really cause me any issues, but just a weird observation.
My Final Thoughts
Before we round out this review, I’d like to offer a few alternatives for your consideration.
Sigma 30mm F1.4
First up is the Sigma 30mm F1.4.
I’d still consider it a “budget” lens, but it punches way above its weight. It offers incredible sharpness, a nice build and blazing fast autofocus.
I HIGHLY recommend spending a bit more money and getting the Sigma. I’ve owned it for over four years now and have loved it.
Meike 25mm F1.8
My next suggestion would be the Meike 25mm F1.8.
It’s still a tiny lens, but it offers an F1.8 aperture and, frankly, similar sharpness and build quality.
If you’re not sold on the “pancake” aspect of the 28mm, consider the wider, brighter lens.
Neewer 35mm F1.7
Last but certainly not least, the Neewer 35mm F1.7.
I’ve owned this lens for about 2 years and it’s exceeded my expectations. Expect great sharpness, a compact size, and surprisingly good build quality.
Generally I don’t like to give bad reviews, but I’d highly recommend buying something else over the Meike 28mm F2.8. It’s tiny and decently sharp, yes, but that’s where its strengths end.
Honestly, I’d suggest buying one of the alternatives above. If you’re looking for something extremely cheap, definitely go with the Neewer 35mm F1.7.
Buy the Sigma Instead
However, if you’re willing to save up a bit, I would highly suggest going with the fantastic Sigma 30mm F1.4.
It’s really a spectacular lens that you can’t go wrong with, plus it’s pretty darn cheap. (by the way, check out my review on it)
I’ll leave a link below for the Sigma so you can mull it over. Thanks for reading!
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