lenses. One of these manufacturers is Meike.
Although Meike has fallen flat at times, they’ve managed to produce some incredible lenses under $100. In today’s review, we’ll be looking at the Meike 50mm F2.0 in particular.
So, how does this little lens stack up against more expensive competitors? Is it even worth buying for yourself?
Let’s find out.
Size & Weight
First off, I want to talk about just how tiny this lens is. Many of these ultra-budget Chinese lenses tend to be small and the Meike is absolutely no exception.
Measuring only 1.6in (4cm) in length, it feels like a toy on my a6k. Heck, it’s even easily pocketable. I love that!
What you might find a bit surprising though is that the lens still weighs about 7.4oz (210g). While this isn’t very heavy, it’s still fairly hefty given the incredibly small size. That’s thanks, in part, to the shockingly nice build quality.
Is the lens well-built?
Speaking of build quality, the lens is actually made of almost entirely metal. There’s virtually no plastic anywhere.
I’ve found this to be pretty typical of many of these ultra-cheap Chinese lenses. Sure, they could make them out of plastic and save some money and weight, but the full-metal build goes a long way into making them not feel so cheap.
When it comes to weather sealing, as you might expect, you won’t be getting any sort of weather resistance out of such a cheap lens.
It should survive a light drizzle but don’t take it out into anything too intensive.
Built to last?
So, do I believe the lens is built to last? It’s kind of hard to say.
You see, many of these cheap lenses generally have questionable quality control. Although most copies will be flawless, you have a higher-than-usual chance of purchasing a dud. Granted, you can always return it for a replacement.
Despite the potentially poor quality control, the lens really does feel pretty well built. I don’t think it’s quite as robust as a GM lens, for example, but it should hold up to bumps and scrapes over time.
Ergonomically, the lens is fairly comfortable to use. Although it’s small, the focusing ring is rather large, making for a nice gripping point.
I didn’t have any hand fatigue when out on adventures with this thing, and it’s also small enough to tuck into a jacket pocket anyway.
Finally: aesthetics. I understand beauty is subjective, but I think the Meike looks pretty nice.
It’s small, black, and made entirely of sleek metal. The text “engravings” (they’re actually just printed) pop pretty well against the barrel. With the full metal build, it’s almost a bit reminiscent of a vintage lens.
Next up, let’s talk about sharpness! Quick warning, however: my lens tests don’t tend to get very scientific. I generally just pixel peep so don’t expect any sort of MTF graphs or anything complicated like that.
To start, when shooting wide open, we actually see some pretty respectable center sharpness.
Corner sharpness falls off a good bit, but that’s typically not a big deal as you’ll generally only be shooting wide open for portraiture anyway.
Stopping down is where sharpness really starts to shine. F5.6 is when the corners start to look solid, and by the time you hit F8 the entire frame will be sharp from edge-to-edge.
Optical Quirks & Flaws
As for optical quirks and flaws, many cheap Chinese lenses suffer from some issues, but the Mieke does pretty well.
First up: distortion.
There’s a little bit of pincushion distortion which, while noticeable, is largely fixable in post. The only circumstances where it might cause problems would be when shooting architecture or anything else that requires straight lines.
Vignette, when wide open, is quite strong. It’s not bad enough to where it can’t be fixed in post, however.
Dropping a couple stops also does the trick.
Other than those two flaws, the lens performs quite well.
Chromatic aberrations are more or less non-existent, and flaring is a non-issue.
Overall Optical Performance
Overall, I’m actually quite impressed with the optical performance that has come out of the Meike 50mm F2.0.
Bokeh looks nice, it’s fairly sharp, and there are no glaringly terrible optical flaws.
Not bad for the price.
Focusing & Other Notes
So, now that we’ve covered optical quality, let’s focus on focusing (pun intended).
I’ve used a lot of manual lenses over the years. Some have been awful, some have been great, this one falls closer to that second category.
The focusing ring is grippy and quite well-dampened, and I didn’t experience any sort of focus creep (where the ring moves slightly when idle).
Coupled with Sony’s always-excellent focus assists (such as magnifier and peaking), manual focus with this lens is an absolute breeze.
Finally, the last thing I want to cover is the physical aperture ring. Yep, since the lens is entirely manual (no electronic connections), you have to control the aperture via the lens itself.
The ring is clickless, but I found it has enough resistance and dampening to where you won’t often bump it out of place on accident.
My Final Thoughts
Before we round out the article, I’d just like to throw two alternatives out for your consideration. They’re both fully electronic (AF, camera-controlled aperture, etc.).
Sony E 50mm F1.8
First, the Sony E 50mm F1.8 provides similar image quality, a compact build, and, of course, autofocus and stabilization.
It does, however, cost a good bit more.
Sigma 56mm F1.4
Next: the Sigma 56mm F1.4. It’s literally the sharpest lens ever made for Sony APS-C cameras.
It offers autofocus, but does of course cost quite a bit more. If you want AF and cost isn’t a concern, take the Sigma.
So yeah, if you’re looking for an epic manual focus lens that doesn’t cost you much money, it’s hard to go wrong with the Meike 50mm F2.0.
It offers competitive sharpness, a nice build, and a low price. I’ll drop a purchase link below if you’re interested in checking it out yourself. Thanks for reading!
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