Meike, which many may know from their rather versatile lineup of APS-C lenses, also have quite a large lineup of full frame lenses as well. In this review, we’ll be looking at the Meike 50mm F1.7, an ultra-cheap lens in a sea of expensive (and huge) full frame lenses.
So, for Sony a7 series cameras, how does this cheap Chinese lens stack up against it’s more expensive competitors? Let’s dive right in.
Looking for just a quick summary before jumping in?
- Incredibly small and compact
- Well built and weather resistant
- Fun and concise manual focus
- Sharpness isn't the best but it isn't terrible
Size & Weight
The biggest benefit to this lens, besides the low price, is the size. The Meike 50mm F1.7 is tiny, coming in at only 2.14 inches (5.45cm) and weighing a rather reasonable 10.9oz (308g). For a full frame lens, this thing is absolutely tiny, although it is a bit heavy for the diminutive size.
Is the lens well built?
That being said, the hefty weight comes from the rather shockingly good build quality. Sporting a rather minimalistic and no-fluff design, the Meike 50mm F1.7 is made almost entirely out of metal and feels, if I’m honest, quite solid.
It includes a small petal-shaped lens hood, and Meike claims it is dust and moisture “resistant”. Overall, I felt it balanced very well on a Sony a7 series body.
Optical quality is where this lens starts to show it’s low pricetag. Sharpness isn’t too bad, I’d rate it as “decent” certainly, but its incompareable to any of the more expensive alternatives (whether that be the Sony FE 50mm F1.8 or perhaps one of Sigma’s offerings).
Wide open, the centers are quite sharp but there is some heavy falloff near the corners. Stopping down to F5.6 shows consistent sharpness edge-to-edge. As for bokeh, the 12-blade aperture makes for a really nice, creamy look. No complaints there.
Optical Quirks & Flaws
Distortion, chromatic abberation, and vignetting are all very well controlled. Flaring is moderate, but using the lens hood should protect from most of that.
However, here’s where things get bad. For whatever reason, the Meike 50mm F1.7 shows a weird, almost airy look when at wider apertures. It looks like someone dragged the “Clarity” slider in Lightroom all the way to the left.
I’m sure some photographers may like this aesthetic, but I thought it was pretty ugly. Luckily, stopping down quite a bit helps remove this effect.
Focus & Other Notes
As one would expect from this price point, the Meike 50mm F1.7 is entirely manual focus, and I think that’s one aspect which it nails well. The focusing ring is quite stiff, which is something I really like, as it allows for more precise focusing.
It felt accurate (unlike some manual lenses) and just overall really nice to use.
The aperture ring is clickless (smooth) and also worked well.
My only complaint there was that it was positioned in-front of the focusing ring, which is very contrary to pretty much every other lens out there.
My Final Thoughts
Before we wrap up this article, I want to point out that the Sony FE 50mm F1.8, while a bit more expensive (and larger), is a lot better overall. Personally, if you’re ok with the higher price and the bigger size, I’d suggest going with the Sony.
Otherwise, the Meike 50mm F1.7 does have some strengths. It’s very small, manual focus is fun (if a bit tedious at times), and it’s cheap as dirt. If you’re looking for an ultra budget lens thats simply just decent, the Meike is the way to go. I’ll drop purchase links below if you’re interested in checking it out. Thanks for reading.
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