The Meike 35mm f1.4 is a small but fast compact manual lens for APS-C and Micro Four Thirds cameras. With excellent bokeh and rendering, this is a fantastic lens for photographers seeking that classic look with shallow depth at a very reasonable price.
Table Of Contents
Focal Length: 35mm ( 50mm full-frame equiv)
Aperture Blade: 9
Aperture: f1.4 – f16
Elements: 8 elements in 5 groups
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.4m
Filter Threads: 49mm
Weight: 220 grams
Meike 35mmm f1.4 Fujifilm X – Amazon
Meike 35mm f1.4 Sony E – Amazon
Meike 35mm f1.4 Micro Four Thirds – Amazon
Meike 35mm f1.4 Canon M – —
Meike 35mm f1.4 Review | Impressions
I started using the Meike 35mm f1.4 right after I reviewed the Meike 35mm f1.7 and the Fujinon 35mm f1.4.
With regards to what this lens is compared to those two lenses, it’s a little bit of a one-trick pony. It has absolutely amazing rendering, amazing depth, and great bokeh, but, it’s not great with the technical performance.
Mainly, it has some pretty significant distortion and weaker edge and corner performance. Compared to everything out there for this price range, it’s not too bad. For example, I would recommend the Meike 35mm f1.4 over the 7Artisans 35mm f1.2 for anyone that wants nice bokeh and nice rendering but who cares a little bit more about technical performance, since the Meike 35mm f1.4 holds its sharpness a lot better than the 7Artisans when wide open.
I personally like the Meike 35mm f1.7 a lot compared to this lens, it has a nicer balance in terms of character and technical performance and it does it with fewer elements. However, this f1.4 lens does some really cool things with depth which I’ve tried to capitalize with my sample photos in this review.
I’ve also taken the 35mm f1.4 out to shoot some low light street photography to see how it handles. It’s been fun and I’m impressed by the overall quality for the price, but do find that when shooting anything at a distance and opened up to f1.4, the lens is pretty soft and is tough to focus so I found I was naturally stopping down the lens a little bit to around f2 where it produced much more acceptable results.
This brings me back around to that Meike 35mm f1.7 which produces much better results at a more controllable aperture with fewer elements.
Now when shooting portraits of my kids and cousins kids and family, or small zoo animals, this lens is fantastic. It’s very good at those closer portrait ranges and that’s where it shines over the Meike 35mm f1.7.
This is the first bad lens I’ve bought from Meike in terms of build quality. Like with my 7Artisans 25mm f1.8 the outer barrel as well as the aperture ring came loose and went crazy. And nobody likes a super loose ring going around their barrel. 🙂
There are three little screws that hold things together that I guess weren’t tight enough. I had to take a small screwdriver to tighten everything down, so the outer barrels wouldn’t slide around anymore. It was grinding at first but now my aperture ring turns smooth again and everything is working fine.
Of course, this doesn’t mean your lens will do this. My Meike 35mm f1.7 and 50mm f2 have the same body design and they’re fine.
So if you buy one of these Meike lenses, give it a good twist, and make sure everything is solid, a small screwdriver will come in handy if you have one.
Ignoring my bad luck with this copy that fell apart, the Meike lenses, in general, have a cool compact all-metal build. You’ll see a lot of reviewers say, “All-metal, so build quality is good.” A good build quality means a lens won’t fall apart, it means there aren’t a lot of decentric issues and inner light scattering. It means the lens is designed in a way where grease won’t leak onto the aperture blades or elements, or it won’t haze up the glass if it gets hot.
So far, I’ve not yet seen decentric issues with this style of build they’re using on these APS-C lenses. I’ve never seen oil on the aperture or inner light scattering issues either. (Their full-frame Meike 50mm f1.7 is a different story.)
With their APS-C design, focusing is always smooth and the aperture ring is usually smooth. All around they are a ton of fun to use on these little APS-C cameras.
The Meike 35mm f1.4 is also slightly different than their other 35mm lenses in that it has 8 elements with 9 aperture blades. It looks like they needed a few more elements to correct some issues that come with the f1.4 aperture. You’ll still get softer corners and more distortion than some of their slower lenses.
Even though there are 8 elements, micro-contrast is still fantastic.
Something else I want to point out is that these lenses have been designed for the mirrorless flange distance. A lot of people talk about buying older retro lenses instead of these cheap Chinese lenses (I have many of both). While there are a lot of great older retro lenses, buying them and getting good copies is usually a hassle and they are designed for DLSR 35mm film cameras, not mirrorless digital cameras.
So companies like Meike, are able to get better performance with smaller lenses by designing them for mirrorless digital systems. The only problem with these cheap lenses is long-term reliability and quality control.
The only reason I mention this is that I often see Canon and Nikon full-frame shooters talk about all the magic that is going to come from the bigger Canon and Nikon mirrorless mounts, but, we’ve been getting that magic for six or seven years now with Fujifilm, Sony, and Canon APS-C mirrorless cameras that use mounts correctly designed for their sensors. We’ve yet to really see what Canon, Nikon, and Panasonic will be able to do with larger mounts on a mirrorless full-frame system, but for now, we have some really cool lenses in the APS-C world. I think that’s why we’ve seen such a shift to APS-C in the last few years by serious photographers. The optics have bridged the gap a little between full-frame DLSRs and APS-C mirrorless, at least until full-frame mirrorless catches up to the new tech.
You can also find this style of lens under other brand names. I’ve seen similar lenses by Opteka, Neewer, Brighten Star, Tosuny, 7Artisans, and Lightdow. So I have no idea who is doing the R&D on these actual designs, it seems like anyone can buy them factory direct and slap their logo on them. So I don’t think Meike is anything special as a company, like Kipon, or Laowa, or Mitakon who are real lens companies. I think they’re just another brand out of Hong Kong buying OEM Chinese photography junk and slapping their label on it.
Meike 35mm f1.4 Review | Technical Overview
Meike 35mm f1.4 Sharpness Chart
Sharpness is decent in the center, but it does get a little softer at f1.4.
The corners and edge sharpness are not great. You’ll see some improvement at higher apertures, especially at infinity focus, but for the most part, this will limit this lens mostly to shooting center subject matter content.
Since it is mostly a field curvature throwing off the sharpness, you could focus on the thirds and it will still look better, but the edges and corners never produce great results.
Here is a sharpness sample at around f8. It does pretty well stopped down like this.
Here is a shot at f1.4. A little soft but usable.
Some very noticeable barrel distortion.
Strong vignetting at f1.4 but looks much nicer by f2. By f4 everything is pretty much cleaned up.
Flaring / Sunstars
This lens will flare a little, but it is somewhat controlled. There are just certain angles when the sun is out of the frame where it will bloom out.
Sunstars get a little messy.
I’m not finding any Chromatic Aberrations worth noting.
Unless you do something crazy like shoot water droplets in direct sunlight. But even then, it’s well-controlled.
Art & Character
The Meike 35mm f1.4 is a little bit more of an art lens than an everyday utility lens in my opinion. The f1.4 aperture does a decent job at mid to far distances, but it’s by no means great compared to what you get with real professionally designed Fujinon or Sony lenses.
This lens is still fun even when stopped down at farther distances, but it really shines up close in that medium to closeup range.
It’s a compact lens, and with small designs comes a lot of compromises, but of course, it’s all about how you work it . . . at least that’s what my wife keeps telling me.
Bokeh / Render Depth
Bokeh is very nice with the Meike 35mm f1.4 and that sort of focus falloff / render depth is insane. It reminds me of a lot of the legendary Fujinon 35mm f1.4, although it does have a slightly different look with a different field curvature profile.
Bokeh is nice, very smooth with that 9-blade aperture and you will get some soap bubble bokeh if you get some bright highlights in the background, kind of cool and you don’t see that very often.
You’ll start to get some geometry by about f2.8, and highlights star out at f4.
Some lemons in the corners and edges.
Some more samples of that sweet, sweet bokeh. Sharpness also seems a little better at these closer distances, but that could just be an illusion because the subject is bigger in the frame.
These are all straight out of camera shot with the Fujifilm X-T3. Color is very consistent across the frame with no strong color cast or shifts.
Micro Contrast / Contrast
Micro contrast is very good. All these cheap primes have great micro-contrast. Meike has really nailed it with their APS-C 35mm lenses here. I don’t think they’ve quite figured out how to get their full-frame 50mm f1.7 to perform like their APS-C lenses yet, but they’re doing a great job for the most part.
Compared to the Fujinon lenses, this lens is right on par with the Fujinon 35mm f1.4 in terms of micro-contrast and render depth. Or close enough anyway. Contrast is also very good which you can see in the SOOC (straight out of camera) images above.
Meike 35mm f1.4 Review | Bottom Line
The Meike 35mm f1.4 produces an amazing look with amazing render depth, a lot like the Fujinon 35mm f1.4, but this lens has a lot of technical issues and build issues that will hold it back from being a great versatile lens. It’s kind of a one-trick pony, whereas the Fujinon 35mm f1.4 can pretty much do anything.
But man, does this lens have a cool rendering and depth to it. I just love the photos I got of my daughter, it’s rare to see a lens do this with this level of detail and micro-contrast, so there is something to be said about that.
Compared to the Meike 35mm f1.7 and the 7Artisans 35mm f1.2. This lens is a really nice mix of both. Great rendering and depth with a little bit of tamer character compared to the 7Artsians lens, and decent edge sharpness stopped down, just not as refined of an image as the Meike 35mm f1.7 across the aperture range.
Meike 35mm f1.4 versus 7Artisans 35mm f1.2
I would personally recommend the Meike 35mm f1.4 over the 7Artisans 35mm f1.2 for a few reasons.
One, the 7Artisans image is just a little bit too wild. I think the 7Artisans f1.2 lens is a ton of fun, but only in limited situations.
Two, a lot of people have been telling me they’re getting bad copies of the 7Artisans 35mm f1.2 lens. Some lenses are so soft at f1.2 that focus peaking won’t even show up.
I would pick the Meike 35mm f1.7 if portrait photography isn’t your primary focus since that lens performs better in most situations. You get a little less depth, but better technical performance with great character. And while the f1.4 sounds like it’s better at low light on paper, the images are going to feel a lot softer when shooting faraway subjects and I pretty much found myself shooting f2 anyway.
Meike 35mm f1.4 Sample Images
All were shot with the Fujifilm X-T3.
I’m just here for your pics and post production <3
ha ha ha thanks!
Just got this for my xt20. I’ve only used it a bit and haven’t used the Fuji 35 to compare but I really enjoyed using this lens. I’m impressed for 100 bucks. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f2d16717761100c2429d1dafb708f78baa35cbdabe2468d710793b7986112b30.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8704138cb6b123a486ccfad80bb955e6b218cb092ab9e305ec6e642cf4d7b529.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/368a6311f0feb078937e45a77c14decbe48ff9f08e8f0a2bfa791272d625f2c6.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/906d120fcf7857654dec47be4af191943d3757614607c715cf81389c9c178d32.jpg
Yeah for $100 bucks you can totally make it work.
Very cool photos btw. I love those tones in the black & white edits.
Thanks. I’m loving the Fuji system. Bit of a learn coming from Nikon. Barely have to touch my jpegs for my personal stuff.
Some folks reported substantial purple fringing at 1.4… did you have the same experience or could it be they got a bad copy?
I haven’t seen any issues with purple fringing. Possibly they are using the lens on a Sony or a Canon with a different sensor stack. Sometimes that can cause various issues with things like fringing.
Thanks for your reply! I greatly enjoyed the review! If I may, I also wanted to ask you about the reliability of the focus scale. I returned the 35mm 1.7 because I found the focus scale was inaccurate or just not well calibrated (I focused on an object, I measured the distance and it did not match the distance indicated on the focus ring). Since I wanted to use the lens for street, I found it to be a great annoyance. Have you had the chance to check this on the 1.4? Maybe I had a bad copy?
The focusing scale is very often inaccurate on these cheap lenses. The aperture scale is off too sometimes. A lot of my Rokinon lenses are the same way, but Rokinon has gotten WAY better over the years. I’ve had to take lenses apart and fix them, but for the most part it seems random if you get one that’s accurate or not. These lenses are cheap and are thrown together quickly and are probably never calibrated.
Hi, thanks for your blog. Which better lens Meike 35mm 1.7 or Meike 35mm f1.4 or 7Artisan 25mm 1.8? This lens compatible with fujifilm XA3? Thank you
Yes they are compatible. The Meike 35mm f1.7 is my favorite out of the three.
Ah one more, You said 35mm is perfect for many conditions (street, portrait, etc). This means Meike 35mm perfect for many conditions in Full frame or APS-C sensor? Thanks
This is always a popular topic of debate. My favorite focal length to use for general purpose is 50mm full frame, or APS-C 35mm. It’s perfect for street, and can also be used for portrait. It’s useful for landscape too, but obviously with landscape there is no single perfect focal length because it is completely location dependent.
Thank you 🙂
Hi I just want to ask which is better this Meike 35 f1.4 or the 7artisans 35mm f2? I recently sold my 7artisans 35mm f1.2 as I was not satisfied with the sharpness. Thank you
What preset do you use ?
I made my own.
Excellent review once again, Alik. You really are by far my favorite Fujifilm reviewer! And Kalina is so adorable!!
Just wanted to point out a couple of typos. In the Bottom Line, you write Meike 35mm f1.4 versus Meike 35mm f1.2 when you meant 7artisans f1.2. Then under Other Lenses You Might Like it should be Meike f1.7 (text is wrong but link is correct).
While at it, the link to the Meike 50mm f1.7 Review on your Complete List of Fujifilm Lenses leads to the 35mm f1.7 review, not 50mm f1.7.
As you can tell, I have been absolutely going through your website 🙂 Top job!
Ah thanks! The combination of my mild dyslexia and using a bluetooth keyboard on a Macbook pro wreaks havoc on my writing abilities. I recently switched over to Grammarly and it’s been doing a really good job at correcting a lot of these typos. I’ll go through and do an edit.
No worries! What matters is the content and that part is incredibly beautiful and helpful. Thank you!
Thanks, everything has been updated and fixed! 🙂
I’ve been following your blog ever since I got into Fuji – x system. Your post processing is very well done, please do share your preset with us!
I’ve been working on releasing a pack. Finally got my store up but I need to do some last adjustments to the looks before I release them.
It’s a challenge because each camera brand has a different look, so I have to make sure my presets work for every system.
That’s great news, can’t wait to see what you have in store for us!
I got the meike 35mm f1.4 after reading your review and while I’m not unsatisfied with the results, I realized that the pictures are still a long way from the ones you posted here and your preset really does do magic on them
MK-35mm F/1.4 sharpness VS MK-35 F/1.7 sharpness?
Which one do you prefer?
I personally prefer the f1.7. All around performs better.
What do you mean by performs better?
Does MK-35mm F/1.7 focuses better or more accurately than F/1.4?
Could you please explain?
meike 35mm F1.7 performs better to my eyes. it’s sharper than the 1.4.
Thanks for another great review – For those with shallow pockets it is great to hear about the real world performance of affordable lenses. The comments from other users is also helpful – so please keep them coming
I think you have summed up the Meike/Kaxinda/Neewar lens strengths and weaknesses well – they are great for creative pictures at short to mid distances (I have their 25, 35 and 50mm lenses). They all show good colour and contrast and sharpness even wide open. At this distance and with a wide aperture – the focus is not flat field – so that while the centre of the image is sharp the edges of a picture are soft (I use M4/3 so I guess this is more pronounced on APS crop cameras like a Fuji). To “correct” these Generic Chinese lenses to a more “perfect” image quality will require more internal lens elements and complexity in a lens – coupled with aspheric or high density glass elements: this will make optically “better” lenses heavier, larger and much more expensive – destroying the reason for the “artistic” and “creative” impact of these lenses and giving no economic advantage over the branded lenses from the camera makers. So the trick is to embrace the features of these lenses and not judge them on physics measurement comparisons.
Like you – I have found that once you have closed the aperture to F5.6 or F8 all these Chinese “Generic Brand” lenses perform well at distance and across the field of view – but then they have no advantage over the kit zoom lenses with their bonus of AF and Image Stabilisation. So these are creative lenses used to isolate your subjects – and they do that very well.
I also concur with your comment that the aperture can actually be “too wide”. Now that digital cameras are happy at shoot at 800asa and 1600asa with very little sensor noise, and that mirrorless cameras have electronic viewfinders that increase the gain in dark images to aid focus there is no requirement for F1.2 or F1.4 unless it is for shallow depth of field or a dramatically better bokeh. This is a big difference from the film era when 800asa fuji negative film was the absolute limit for shooting in colour, and most of us used 64-200asa colour film by choice. With a 35mm lens on a micro 4/3 camera taking a full-face portrait you will be shooting at 86cm distance; at this position a 35mm F1.2 lens has a depth of field of just 2cm – or less that the distance from the tip of a nose to the iris of the eye. At F1.8, the DoF is still only 3cm – hardly a great difference that you will notice creatively.
Given the small size of these lenses I now tend to carry 2 AF Panasonic Zooms, an AF prime panasonic 25mm and a fisheye ultrawide and either a single manual focus Chinese “Generic” 35mm – or both a 25mm and a 50mm. I used to carry old Olympus 35mm-film camera lenses in 24mm and 50mm, but with their OM to M4/3 adapters these are twice the size of these native M4/3 mount MF lenses and really seem to offer little advantage over these new Chinese “Generic Lenses” except perhaps for a slight advantage in mechanical smoothness and that the aperture ring has “click stops” while these Chinese lenses all seem to have “clickless” apertures (this latter feature is my biggest issue with the Meike/Neewar/Kaxinda brand lenses – as it is great to be able to change aperture without taking the camera from your eye).
For a M4/3 camera owner – I think that owning at least one of these type of lenses is a great creative step. With a M4/3 camera, the 35mm is a good middle option between the 25 and 50mm alternatives if you want a single lens, while for an APS size Fuji or crop-Sony owner the 35mm becomes the old-fashioned “standard lens” of 50mm equivalent. I got the 35mm first, but once I added a 25mm and a 50mm (both were on sale prices at about £50 GBP/$65 USD each) I now use the 35mm the least.
I also tried out the less expensive 25 and 35mm CCTV lenses in c-mounts: they are cheap at £15-25 GBP / $20-35 USD, but are mechanically and optically so imferior to these native mount M4/3, Sony E or Fuji X alternatives that I would suggest that for a little extra money – try to buy these better standard lenses if you can.
My last comment – is that the single greatest jump in image quality with these lenses comes from shutting ot stray light that causes flare and which drops contrast and colour by adding as long a lens hood as is possible. I find the “3-position telephoto rubber” lens hoods a great help – and since I have got all my manual focus lenses with the same 49mm filter thread size I only have to carry one in my camera bag. They also double as good protection against bumps and dirt – meaning that you can avoid having to fit a clear/UV filter on the front of the lens except in the worst weather conditions.
Best wishes – and please carry on the good work in 2020 !
Thanks Paul. I’ve been kind of tossing the idea around of starting a forum dedicated to cheap and retro lenses. I’ll let you know what I do. Your insight could be super valuable there.
Great reviews. Its great to be able read about these unexpensive lenses instead of the clinically more accurate lenses that we read a lot about on the internet.
I am quite impressed with these Meike lenses. I have the 25, 35 and 50 apc lenses and they are extremely well made much like older Pentax lenses. Focusing is extremely smooth just like those Pentax lenses. They even look like old Super Taks.
Hello. Since when i got my Fuji, this Meike is my favorite lens. I also got Fujinon 27/2.8, but i needed to return it due to focus problems. I used it short time, but i somehow didnt like it. Meike is much more fun. Now i am searching for another lenses. I want decent 50mm and something wider than 27mm. Question is: how Brightin 50/1.4 or Kamlan, 7artisan55 compares with this Meike35/1.4? Is it similar or better optically? My issue with Meike is distortion. Sharpness is good enough for me at close, and not so good from far. What you guys recommend for wider angle coupled with these? Are thouse 25/1.8 from Meike or Kaxinda any good? Or maybe Mcoplus 14/3.5? With my experience everything, what is better or equal with canon 50/1.8 is good to me 😀 thank you for your recommendations 🙂 https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1c813ade124da31c23f7c8599dbe78d6edb53187a94a1f82357ed04e89d1f7e5.jpg
If you want to clean up the distortion pick up the Meike 35mm f1.7. It’s all-around a better lens, you’ll just lose out on that f1.4, which isn’t a huge deal.
The Kamlan 55 f1.2 is a full-frame lens so it’s pretty big. You’ll probably be better off with the 50mm f1.1 II for APS-C, also their older lense aren’t usually as good as their newer lenses. They are a young company and they continue to get better. Do they still make the 55mm f1.2? I can’t find it anymore.
The Brighton Star 50mm impressed me especially for the price, also a FF lens but small. The Kamlan 55mm f1.1 II is a ton of fun, but heavy so it’s not great as a walk-around lens.
I shoot a lot with the Kipon 35mm f2.4 but it’s a slow lens and I mostly use it on my full-frame systems. I haven’t really fallen in love with any of the 25mm f1.8 lenses. The 7Artisans version is cool but mine always had build quality issues. There is a new Pergear 25mm f1.8 that uses less elements. I’ll probably pick one up soon. But also the Samyang 21mm f1.4 is good if you can catch it on sale.
For wides lookout for any sales on the Samyang / Rokinon 12mm. It’s probably one of the best wides out there right now for APS-C cameras.
Just got this lens after reading your (excelente) review, really nice image quality even wide open. But I didn’t like the build quality… the aperture ring works, but it’s very loose, I changed it with a slight touch, it’s easy to change it even when u don’t want.
The mount is on the opposite side, it’s very very tight, I had to apply some force to mount the lens and a lot more forte tor remove it, on the first time I believed I would tear the camera apart… after trying lots of lenses, it’s the first time I got a lens so hard to mount and demount.
Unfortunately I looks like these Chinese lens makers lacks severely on quality control. The only brand I bought which was always a good experience was Kamlan, the others always have some problem on build quality, loose mount, tight mount, focus range missing infinity, loose aperture ring, loose focus ring, etc… Just looks like they don’t care about selling shitty products.
Yes. It’s a mixed bag on quality. My Meike lenses I got were all pretty good so far. I had the issues you mention with my 7Artisans lenses. The Meike lenses tend to have issues with the X-T2 mount as well. Although all mine work on my X-T2.
Check to see if there are any screws you can tighten down and if that helps anything.
I have a bunch of Pergear lenses right now and they seem to be a little nicer. Maybe try them out next if you still want to continue down this path. 🙂
Yes and the Kamlan lenses are great. They have Kipon do their assembly or used to, so it’s a totally different deal.
Beautiful photos. Could you share a little bit about your post processing techniques?