Neewer 35mm F1.7 Review | An Amazing $69 Lens

Update 04/2022: I’ve now had this lens for while and have updated this review with my latest opinions plus additional photos. By the way, if you want to skip the backstory, just scroll down past the first image to get into the review.

When I got my first Sony camera, my beloved a6000, I would always poke around online to figure out which lens I wanted to buy next. Oftentimes, on Amazon I’d scroll past these weird, cheap alternative lenses from a company called Neewer (also known as Meike) along with some other random off-brands that I can’t recall.

I always skipped over them, seeing as most of their offerings were manual focus, which, as a new photographer, I was quite intimidated by. However, years into the future, I discovered the greatness of vintage lenses and have really come to love manual focus.

Thus, about a year ago, I was scrolling through e-mount lenses again, and decided to pull the trigger and pick up one of these weird and affordable lenses: the Neewer 35mm F1.7.

Looking for just a quick summary before jumping in?

Neewer 35mm F1.7 (Summary)
1,449 Reviews
Neewer 35mm F1.7 (Summary)
- Sharp images, especially when stopped down
- Incredibly tiny and compact
- Surprisingly well built and durable
- Fun manual focus experience
- Cheap and a great budget option

Edit 5/2021: There is also another lens known as the Meike 35mm F1.7. I’m pretty sure these are identical.

Woman standing in front of waterfall.
My girlfriend admiring a gorgeous waterfall in Montana.

Size & Weight: the smallest lens I’ve ever used!

Now, the first thing I want to note is the size of this lens. When I eagerly ripped open the packaging, I was shocked at how tiny it was! Many photographers, myself included, enjoy having a small kit for a variety of reasons.

The Neewer 35mm F1.7 definitely fits the bill, coming in at 6.4oz (181g) and 1.8×1.23×1.8 inches (4.5×3.1×4.5 centimeters). I always thought my Sigma primes were small, but no, this lens takes the cake for being absolutely miniscule, it’s incredible.

The Neewer 35mm F1.7 is incredibly compact. Excuse my awkward hands!

Additionally, it did well when I took it out in inclement weather. The lens survived an hour of moderate rain, though I wouldn’t take it under waterfalls or into heavy blizzards.

Update as of 04/2022: This is still a great lens to throw on my camera when I’m just looking for a simple, lightweight setup. And, despite what I wrote prior, it’s survived plenty more inclement weather since the original writing of this review.

Mountains on a foggy day.
A nice mountain pic I took in Grand Teton National Park.

Build Quality is solid & the lens is aesthetically pleasing.

Build quality is swell. Surprisingly, for the price at least, the Neewer 35mm F1.7 is almost all metal, the only exception being the focusing & aperture rings. It feels strong and sturdy on my Sony a6000, despite being absolutely tiny. It has a 49mm screw on filter thread, and comes with a cap for the front element, and one for the back.

It should be noted that since this lens has no electronic connection to the camera, the aperture must be controlled with a ring on the lens. This ring, unfortunately, does not have incremental clicks like most manual focus lenses, and I found I would often change my f-stop accidentally by simply bumping it. A downside, surely, but not a deal breaker.

Update as of 05/2021: I’ve been using this lens for a while now, and the aperture ring is stiff enough to where I very rarely end up accidentally changing aperture. I’ve really come to enjoy having a clickless ring! One additional build quality note, the lens cap fits on very tightly, and has gradually worn away some of the metal over time. This, thankfully, does not affect lens performance.

Woman standing in front of mountains.
A pic of my girlfriend in front of the Teton Range.

Manual focus is smooth & beginner friendly.

Onto focusing. As stated prior, this lens is completely manual focus, meaning there’s no automatic focusing and everything must be done by hand. As an avid user of manual focus vintage lenses, it felt familiar and very easy to use.

Though for a photographer who is new to fully manual lenses, the Neewer 35mm F1.7 is great to start on. The focusing ring feels high quality, easy to use and mostly precise. It reminded me of a lot of, as I said before, a vintage lens.

Panorama of the Teton Range.
A shot of the Teton Range I took back in 2021.

It is important to note that, if you are planning on using a manual focus lens such as this, you should turn on “focus peaking” in your settings. What is focus peaking you ask? What it does is that it essentially highlights any point of your image that is currently in focus. This allows you to nail your shot without having to zoom in constantly to see if your subject is sharp.

In addition, you’ll need to enable the “release shutter w/o lens” option, as the camera cannot detect the lens due to it lacking any electronic connections. I would highly suggest reading our article on manual focusing if you’d like to learn all the nitty gritty details. Even seasoned users of manual focus may find value in that article.

Split image of a portrait.
Shockingly solid for portraiture, bokeh renders really nicely.

Despite the compact size & low pricetag, image quality is great.

Finally, the image quality. Though there were a few optical flaws, which I’ll get into in just a moment, this lens is quite sharp for how cheap it is.

At F1.7, images were fairly sharp, but the corners suffered quite a bit of softness and vignetting. Peak sharpness seems to be about F4.0, which is around what I usually prefer to shoot at anyway. As one would expect from such a bright lens, the bokeh is quite beautiful and charming.

Despite the softness and vignetting wide open, the Neewer 35mm F1.7 still performs quite well. It’s worth noting that, since this lens is generally used for portraiture, street photography, and the like, that the optical flaws aren’t as relevant.

The vignetting is fairly noticeable with landscapes, but it’s not terrible. With portraiture, this optical flaw can actually enhance your image by drawing just a little bit more attention to your subject.

Black and white rocky mountains.
Some rugged landscape in Bridger National Forest.

Edit as of 05/2021: After owning this lens for a while and shooting some landscapes, I’ve found that the vignetting is pretty much irrelevant as any modern editing software can remove it easily. I’ve even stitched panoramas and it has not caused any issues.

Update as of 04/2022: Flaring is insane in some situations. While it is largely removeable through post-processing, it adds a lot of extra work. I’d avoid using this lens in bright sun. I do often wonder if I just got a bad copy of the lens.

An example of the extreme flaring of the Neewer 35mm F1.7.
An example of the crazy flaring. In most cases it’s not terrible, but on sunny days it can almost ruin images. The biggest downside of this lens, in my opinion.

My Final Thoughts

Overall, I loved this lens. During my tests, I primarily used it for portraits, but it could be used as a general purpose lens for travel, walk-around, etc. as well. Sharpness is pretty great besides the few caveats I mentioned earlier in the article, that being minor vignetting and corner sharpness. Build quality feels really good besides the non-clicky aperture ring, and I really enjoyed the precise feel of the focusing ring.

Update as of 05/2021: As stated earlier in the article, I’ve gotten used to the clickless aperture ring. Since my first tests, I’ve used this for all sorts of different things, from portraits, landscapes, travel, etc. It’s actually one of my favorite lenses!

Update as of 04/2022: Still one of my favorite lenses, especially since it’s so small. I really want to emphasize how extreme the flaring is though!

An abandoned warehouse.
A panorama of an abandoned warehouse near SLC.

As of time of writing, the Neewer 35mm F1.7 comes in at only $69, making it a fabulous lens for new photographers, those on a budget, or if you just want to practice using a full manual lens.

For myself, personally, I’m a big fan of manual focus, so for the price, this was a no brainer and I highly recommend it. Additionally, I really cannot emphasize enough: if you like having a small kit, this lens is a must have. It is SO SMALL!

If you’re interested in taking the leap, I’ll include purchase links below. Thanks for reading! (note: this lens is also sometimes rebranded as the “Meike 35mm F1.7”, they’re the same thing)

Neewer 35mm F1.7
1,449 Reviews
Neewer 35mm F1.7
The Neewer 35mm F1.7 is an amazing little lens that offers great performance, a versatile focal length, and a high quality build, all for an incredibly low price.
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This lens earned a spot on one of my best lens lists.

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