The Meike 50mm f1.7 is a fully manual full frame mirrorless lens available in just about any mirrorless mount. Optically it’s just a decent lens, but Meike lenses are more known for their classic rendering with a bit more character.
This lens features a 12 blade aperture for smooth bokeh even at slower apertures, a 6 element optical formula for that smoother tonal depth and better micro-contrast, and an all-metal construction for long term reliability.
It’s well suited for photographers looking for a decent lens that is capable of handling just about any situation and don’t want to spend a ton of cash.
I view a lens like this as a fun secondary lens with image quality that is good enough, and my more expensive lenses can stay at home when not needed. These lower element lenses often offer a different look you just can’t get with the expensive perfectly corrected glass and this makes them a lot of fun for casual photography. They’re also great for people looking to get into and learn manual focus.
Table Of Contents
- Meike 50mm f1.7 First Impressions
- Build Quality
- Meike 50mm f1.7 Review | Technical Overview
- Art & Character
- Meike 50mm f1.7 Sample Photos
Meike 50mm f1.7 Specs
Focal Length: 50mm Full Frame
Aperture Blade: 12
Aperture: f1.7 – f22
Elements: 6 elements in 5 groups
Coatings: Nano Multicoated
Weather Sealed: No
Minimum Focus Distance: – 1.64′ / 50cm
Filter Threads: 52mm
Weight: 10.9 oz / 310 g
Pros – Good edge to edge sharpness, nice color and saturation, good contrast stopped down, good micro-contrast, cool sun stars, nice bokeh at medium to close range, good build quality, fairly small.
Cons – Bloomy highlights when wide open in bright environments, soft clarity wide open, some distortion, some mild lateral CA, flares, cheap lens hood, watch for decenteric issues.
Biggest Strengths – Great overall sharpness, Good micro-contrast ( better than most high-end primes), nice bokeh at all apertures because of the 12 bladed aperture.
Biggest Flaws – Lack of clarity wide open and bloomy highlights in bright environments.
Meike 50mm f1.7 Nikon Z– Amazon / Adorama / BHphoto
Meike 50mm f1.7 Canon RF – Amazon / Adorama / BHphoto
Meike 50mm f1.7 Sony E – Amazon / Adorama / BHphoto
Meike 50mm f1.7 Fujifilm X – Amazon / Adorama
Meike 50mm f1.7 M43 – Adoram
Check prices, some places sell it for $99, some for $139
Meike 50mm f1.7 First Impressions
When looking at these cheap Chinese / Hong Kong lenses like the Meike 50mm f1.7, there often ends up being one two categories they fall into –
A good lens for the price. Or, a bad lens you don’t have to spend a lot of money on.
I think the Meike 50mm f1.7 is a good lens for the price as I don’t think it’s a bad lens. Meike lenses, for the most part, have been pretty cool and fun to use and are usually well built.
This lens doesn’t really compare to something like a Sony 50mm f1.8 or a Nikon 50mm f1.8 Z in terms of technical performance, but often cheaper lenses like this have some unique characteristics that can make them a ton of fun in the right situations.
Getting Use To It
When using the Meike 50mm f1.7, I was having a hard time getting keepers at first. The lens took me a few days to get adjusted to, especially since I was shooting a lot with the Nikon 50mm f1.8 Z before reviewing this lens.
There are a few problems you’ll have with this lens that you won’t see in the technical overview and I’ll try to explain it as best as I can.
This lens really doesn’t like bright reflective areas when wide open. More so than the APS-C Meike lenses I’ve tested. But, this time of year is a lot sunnier than when I tested those lenses, so that could have an effect on my opinion.
I’ve found when I’m out shooting in the streets in midday, it’s really tough to get nice images when shooting at f1.7. The images end up lacking contrast and clarity and the highlights can bloom causing ghosting along edges.
It’s almost like there is a lot of internal light scattering going on inside the lens. Possibly with cheaper coating on the internal elements or internal light scattering from the inner lens barrel. Stopping down helps this.
Also, when you shoot wide open, you will see soft clarity, almost like you turn the clarity slider in Lightroom a little to the left.
When shooting overcast, or indoors, f1.7 looks much better and is much more controllable, but still, there is a softer clarity wide open.
The render depth sometimes bugs me but only in some situations and I think it has to do with subject distance.
If the subject is somewhat far from the lens and you don’t nail focus, the just-out-of-focus area can look weird and this ends up being a problem if you slightly miss focus, which you will do sometimes.
In general, when shooting anything at about around 10-15 feet or further, the out-of-focus areas within about 1-2 feet from focus point do not look good. There is this lack of clarity, this almost ghosting, so I’ve had to learn that when shooting subjects a little further away, I need to stop down the lens.
To summarize, bright sunny days, stop down to at least f2.8. Subject far from lens, stop down f2.8 at least. I see these characteristics a lot with these cheaper primes or even with ultra-fast expensive primes. I think it might be just an inherent flaw with small fast lenses.
Compared To Other Lenses
Some lenses you can just pick up and start using right away and everything looks good no matter the conditions. The Nikon 50mm f1.8 is like this as well as the Sony 50mm f1.8. It takes a little time to learn what the Meike 50mm f1.7 likes and doesn’t like and you have to shoot within those parameters to get really nice images, but you can get nice images.
I have this lens for the Nikon Z mount and it’s been a ton of fun on the Z6 especially when I want more micro-contrast or a little bit more of that gritty mid-tone contrast.
You don’t get nearly as much of that punchy contrast as the Nikon 50mm f1.8 Z, or the Sony 50mm f1.8, but it’s a fun little lens none the less.
This lens is also now available for the Sony E-Mount, Fujifilm X-mount, and Micro Four Third mounts. So Fujifilm shooters will have a 75mm f1.7 equivalent lens and Micro Four Thirds shooters will get a nice 100mm f1.7.
Canon shooters don’t really have too much to choose from yet in the Canon RF Mount in terms of affordable 50mm lenses so this could be a fun option.
If you want a cheap manual lens, the Meike 50mm f1.7 can be a lot of fun once you learn it, just be aware it’s going to be a little softer on the clarity side and you do lose a little sharpness wide open.
Of the cheap Chinese or even Korean lenses, Meike has some of the nicer build quality. I’ve only had one issue with one of their APS-C lenses, the 35mm f1.4. But who knows, could just be my luck and maybe they all come from the same factory.
On the 34mm f1.4, the outer barrel on that lens came loose after a few days and I had to tighten it back down. The exact same thing happened to my 7Artisans 25mm f1.8.
So far, this 50mm f1.7 seems rock solid. I’ve taken it to the beach, gotten it sandy muddy, twisted it, torqued it, it’s solid. Nothing has come loose everything feels good and smooth.
My copy does have some decentric issues so the left hemisphere is softer than the right.
I’ve yet to see any other issues with Meike lenses like oil on the aperture, dust in the lens or anything like that so I think quality control is under control. While my copy is decentered this is a pretty common issue with most lens companies even Fujifilm. Hopefully, it’s not a widespread issue where three out of four lenses are bad like my experience with older SLR Magic lenses.
So far, I only have four lenses by Meike, and the only lens that gave me trouble besides this one was the 35mm f1.4 which had a problem with the main barrel not being screwed down tight enough. Something that was easy to fix with a small screwdriver. But yeah, I guess that’s a 50% hit rate for Meike on overall nailing quality shipments.
With Rokinon about 1/4 of the lenses I buy are bad, with Fujifilm probably 1/5, 7Artisans 4/5, SLR Magic 4/5, Kipon 1/4. I own a lot of lenses.
Decentric issues are pretty common so my only complaint with the build with this lens is the crappy lens hood it comes with. It’s just light cheap plastic and never full clicks on so it’s always rattling around.
Meike 50mm f1.7 Lens Specs
6 Elements 5 Groups
The Meike 50mm f1.7 has 6 elements in 5 groups. Usually, low elements in lenses like this is a good sign if you’re looking for nice micro-contrast and pop, and it’s tough to find lenses like this by Nikon or Canon. Sony has the 6 element 50mm f1.8 which is nice and of course, there are some great character lenses by Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic as well with less elements.
12 Aperture Blades
I can’t find specs on the aperture blades so I counted. It looks like there are 12 aperture blades. You would think this would be a marketing point Meike would be pushing a little harder but it’s not written on their website, on BHphotos website or an Adorama website.
12 aperture blade iris is actually really cool because it means you get really nice bokeh shape even stopped down to f5.6. This actually can be very useful for video shooters who aren’t always shooting wide open and still want smooth background bokeh without geometry.
You’ll see this a lot with SLR Magic lenses with their 11 blade apertures. It’s a really nice feature.
Size / Weight / Mechanics
The Meike 50mm f1.7 is a heavy little lens for the size. It’s even heavier than the Canon RF 35mm f1.8.
The lens is constructed with two barrels, and the front barrel does telescope out just a little when focusing.
Focusing is smooth and the aperture is smooth. You won’t be nudging focus or the aperture by accident.
Meike 50mm f1.7 Review | Technical Overview
Sharpness is actually pretty good with this lens but it does drop a little when wide open.
Regarding my copy, it does have some decentric issues as I mentioned earlier. These samples taken for the sharpness chart are taken from the good side which is the right hemisphere of my lens.
Center sharpness is decent and is best at around f5.6 to f8.
At f1.7 and f2, you can see some of that reduction in clarity. It’s not too bad in a controlled environment like this studio scene.
Edge sharpness is pretty good and usable when stopped down to f8, so this lens could be used for landscapes if you were in a pinch.
Corner sharpness isn’t too bad either. It’s a little softer, not because the lens is bad, but because of the field curvature. In other words, the corners actually falling out of focus because the focus plane isn’t totally even across the lens. More expensive lenses go through a lot of trouble to fix this, by adding more elements with more glass and this can introduce new problems, like onion ring bokeh and a reduction in micro-contrast.
You will see better corner sharpness at infinity focus, or if you focus for the corners which I do not do in these tests.
There is a little bit of barrel distortion but you probably won’t notice it unless you’re shooting architecture.
Vignetting is kept fairly under control and is mostly cleared up by f4.
Ignore the texture seen at the higher apertures, the wall I shot was textured. I usually shoot the sky for this, but I haven’t had any clear days or perfectly overcast days.
There is a little bit of CA, but nothing to really worry about. You’ll mostly only see it in the out-of-focus areas (longitudinal), not so much on high contrast corners and edges (lateral).
Here is a cropped sample from the center of the lens.
Art & Character
The biggest draw to a lens like this for me is the nice tonal detail you get. For example, when I’m shooting my daughter, you can see all the little details and tones in her skin and you get smooth transitions from dark to light. This is different than sharpness or contrast.
Even when the image is not sharp or perfectly in focus, you can still see these nice tonal transitions and details and that is something you only get from a low element lens like this and sometimes I miss this when shooting with my Nikon 50mm f1.8 and especially my zoom lenses.
Render depth and focus falloff with this lens is nice but only when the subject is close. Stick within the sweet spot of fifteen feet and closer and you get some really beautiful results.
I would say this lens is designed as a more up close and personal portrait lens when wide open, or more of a street lens when stopped down. The lens shows some good control over vignetting with a decent edge to edge sharpness when stopped down, while still retaining nice bokeh because of that 12 bladed aperture.
Color Rendering | SOOC
With Nikon, there really is no straight out of camera RAW anymore since the camera passes on settings to Adobe.
What I’ve done is I’ve restored everything to what Adobe Lightroom would default to with other brands so that these samples can be consistent across all my reviews with various brands of cameras.
I know some brands sharpen their RAW files more in the AD converter than others which can give the illusion of sharper lenses, but this at least will give a solid baseline.
I like to typically max out sharpness in-camera to help with focus peaking and I had all my SOOC files all uploaded and ready to go, then realized they all had 80 sharpness applied in Lightroom and I had to redo everything.
I don’t usually mess with sharpness in my photos unless I’m doing landscapes, so if you see any samples in other areas of this review that seem over sharpened, that is why.
Lightroom also defaults to turning on, “Remove Chromatic Aberrations” which I have turned off for the sake of seeing how this lens performs without correction.
Also note, Fujifilm and Nikon bake in lens correction to their brand lens which will always create an illusion of better-performing lenses when you compare them to third-party lenses like this. Usually, this corrects for Distortion, Vignetting, color shifts and sometimes CA.
There are more SOOC samples in the Bokeh section that show how the lens performs on sunny days as well as overcast days.
Color reproduction is very nice with this lens. No strange shifts or any weird color gradient issues or patterns.
Bokeh & Render Depth
Bokeh is surprisingly pretty. There is no crazy swirl, some minor soap bubbles, and the geometry is well controlled because of the 12 bladed aperture. It’s actually a pretty lens with very rich smooth bokeh. I’d have to say this is one of the betters bokeh lenses out there compared to all the cheaper lenses I’ve tested.
There are some minor issues with depth. The area’s just outside of what is in focus will not look great, especially if it has some intense highlights because there is some lateral CA that will mess things up and you get this sort of nasty ghosting thing that happens with some edgy bokeh. It won’t happen in most images, but if you’re shooting some vines or twisty things you might notice it, and the farther away the worst the effect.
Like with this sample.
For the most part, if you don’t have something heavily detailed like a persons face, then the transition from in focus and out of focus is nice.
While this lens can focus to infinity fine at f1.7, it will not have great rendering at those distances. Really anything about 30 feet (about 10 meters) and beyond won’t look great if you’re wide open, which is the biggest difference between a lens like this and a larger pro lens like the Nikon 50mm f1.8 S.
But it’s really not unusual for a lens rendering to fall apart when wide open at far distances, especially a lens this small.
Some of these samples have been colored for effect. Most are SOOC (Adobe Defaults). The Bottom six samples in this mix are taken on an overcast day which produces much nicer results.
Bokeh Balls / Coma
Here are some bokeh ball and coma samples. Bokeh stays very round and clean until about f8 when it starts to star out.
No onion rings or soap bubbles.
Flaring & Sunstars
This lens does catch some flares if you’re pointing it towards a light source or if the sun is off to the edge.
When you’re not using a lens hood, you can get these little color streaks across the frame that look like this –
The Meike 50mm f1.7 produces some really nice sun stars with a very uniform pattern.
Contrast & Micro Contrast
Contrast overall is just so-so with this lens. I don’t consider this a deal breaker since it’s easy to bring back somewhat. You can also stop down to f2.8 or more to improve contrast.
In terms of micro-contrast, it’s a pretty good micro-contrast lens which helps give it that “classic” rendering, but other Mieke lenses are better.
Those bloomy highlights and that soft clarity when wide open can cut down the tonal depth by making the highlight transitions a little edgy.
But for the most part, it’s a decent micro-contrast lens, especially considering most big name lens brands don’t have nice micro-contrast lenses except some Sony and Fujifilm lenses, or maybe that Canon 40mm.
Sony shooters also have the option to buy the fairly inexpensive 6 element Sony 50mm f1.8, which mostly outperforms this lens, but it won’t have that 12 bladed aperture.
Most of the Fujifilm f2 lenses have really good micro-contrast as well, but the Mieke lenses are usually a hair better.
With something like my Nikon 50mm f1.8 S, those shadow transitions are a little edgier and there is slightly less tonal detail overall, but that lens is sharper and has more contrast which definitely creates an illusion of better image quality. But it really all depends on personal taste and what look you might be going for.
These samples also have good micro-contrast but you can see in some of them how the blooming highlights interfere with it a little bit. These also aren’t all perfectly in focus, but they still have a really nice tonal gradation.
Look at how smooth the transitions are between tones and look at the tonal detail in those shadows. It’s a very pretty look, especially for black and white photography, and actually, the softer clarity has a nice effect on these images.
Meike 50mm f1.7 Review | Bottom Line
The Meike 50mm f1.7 is actually a pretty cool lens, especially for the price. It has a nice build, it feels heavy and solid which is good, it performs well technically and has really nice bokeh.
Its main flaw is that softer clarity wide open which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it might bug you if you buy this lens not expecting that.
This lens does struggle wide open when shooting subjects at a distance, but this is pretty normal, especially for how small this lens is.
Usually, with smaller lenses come with an increase in imperfections and the Meike 50mm f1.7 has a pretty nice balance between size and performance especially considering the price.
Sometimes these cheap Chinese lenses are a complete miss (7artisans 35mm f2), but Meike has a pretty nice lineup going so far with no big misses that I’ve seen yet.
All around it’s a fun lens to use and I really like lenses like this for casual photography which allows me to minimize wear and tear on my more expensive lenses.
As with any cheap lens, double check it for build quality issues. My lens is softer on the left side than ride side but it was hard to tell unless I was shooting something very detailed. For how I use this lens, I’m not too worried about it.
Meike 50mm f1.7 Sample Photos
All shot with the Nikon Z6 and colored in Lightroom.
Sorry for any grammar and spelling mistakes. Jetpack removed the only useful feature of their plugin (grammar) and now I’m hunting for a better solution.
Now I’m using Grammarly which is making a complete mess of my articles. If you’re a writer and know of something better, please let me know. Copy and paste into word or another word processor is not an option since it messes up the formatting.
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