Sometimes it’s a bit tough deciding between which of these cheap lenses is the one to buy. A lot of times it just comes down to build quality, but sometimes there are actually subtle differences in the image quality that can make one lens more compelling than another.
For some time now I’ve been looking for a nice upgrade to the 7Artisans 25mm f1.8, a lens that had some pretty cool rendering, and was one of my most popular lens reviews, but was plagued with mechanical issues.
It wouldn’t happen to everyone, but my copy of that lens had inner element pressure issues. Basically, when I tried to focus, the focus element would suck back to its previous position due to the pressure change. It was incredibly annoying and I wasn’t the only person with this problem. It was still super fun and cool to use, and I think the rendering might have even been a touch nicer than this lens in a different way.
The Pergear lens is a very nice upgrade to build quality. It actually uses fewer elements at 5 in 3 groups. There is another lens with this same design called the Andoer 25mm F1.8 here on Amazon. which doesn’t look to come with a lens hood.
PerGear 25mm f1.8 – Amazon
These samples are mostly of my kids. I’ll grab more samples with more variety for the full review, but I know that a lot of you that follow me also have kids and like it when I post kid shots.
For now, I’ll walk you through what’s going on with this lens.
Pergear 25mm f1.8 First Impressions
Pros: Some of the best micro-contrast, nice bokeh when close and wide open. Some of the build quality of the sub $100 lenses.
Cons: Not that sharp wide open, ugly bokeh at mid-range, strong vignetting wide open, ugly lens flares.
Specialty: Micro Contrast, Close focus portrait, or still life photography.
If you need sharpness wide open you kind of need to stay close to the center frame.
I won’t get too much into sharpness in this review because that’s not really what these lenses are about and usually their sharpness is just ok. You still need lenses that are sharp obviously, but sharpness is not always the end-all-be-all to lenses, especially for how we are using these lenses, which is, to have fun and shoot some unique-looking images with a ton of organic pop.
I will say the Pergear is sharp enough for this purpose, but it’s probably not going to be sharp enough for a lot of people when shot wide open since it’s mostly only sharp in the center frame.
It really likes being stopped down just a little.
Here are some controlled samples at f1.8.
These two shots are stopped down to about f5.6 and here it’s performing well.
It’s also a little hard to nail focus at f1.8 while keeping the subject close where things look best. That’s the issue with a lot of these cheap small lenses, they just don’t look great when shooting wide open at far distances. Stopped down to f4 and they are fantastic, but in terms of sharpness, it’s looking like this lens might be a little below average for the f1.8 lenses.
Problems With IQ But Tons Of Pop
This lens is interesting, I see a lot of problems with image quality, but it’s really good at doing what it does good, which is that close-up portrait with tons of micro-contrast, and it’s bad at everything else.
I think you’ll get more of a balanced lens in terms of image quality with the 7Artisans 25mm or Meike than this Pergear.
You should get a pretty good idea of the image quality with all these samples. It’s definitely doing some cool things and it’s looking like these Pergear lenses have more of a lean toward artistic imagery than some of the higher element lenses like the 7Artisans and Meike.
There are a lot of situations where the bokeh just looks strange. This comes from shooting subjects wide open that are far away. It really doesn’t like that.
But when close, it looks great. Like a whole different world opens up.
Flaring is also a little ugly at times. Rather than producing cool orbs, it streaks which is really distracting. But sometimes in the right conditions, you can get a nice glow, like in the third image here and in the samples of my daughter below.
It comes with a lens hood but it doesn’t really do anything. It will just block out the very outer angles to help just a little bit of veil flaring when the sun is out of frame, but that’s it really. Think of the lens hood as more of a lens protector than a device to reduce flaring.
Can’t really complain though, these images turned out to be absolutely beautiful. This is my daughter playing with a sand crab.
Micro Contrast is pretty insane with this one – In a good way. It just has so much punch and 3D pop. If you’re shooting with your kids or pets it’s going to blow you away. Stop it down just a little bit to like f2, and you’ll really get a ton of pop. That’s kind of what this lens is, a Micro Contrast goddess, but if you want a lens that’s a little more balanced in terms of performance, you might try looking for a higher element lens. Or just collect them all and use them for different situations as I do.
No two lenses are the same and that’s what’s so cool about building out a kit with these cheap lenses. They all have little specialties.
Pergear 25mm f1.8 Build Quality
Build quality is probably random with these lenses but this one is performing a little nicer than my Pergear 35mm f1.6.
The Pergear 25mm f1.8 has a focus throw that is a bit smoother, not as much grinding when adjusting focus like the 35mm, but still some. Focus is still a little stiff with these lenses but this 25mm is better than the 35mm. I would say, with my copies, the 25mm so far is the best when it comes to the way it feels, and it probably has the nicest feel of all the cheap Chinese lenses I’ve tried so far – my copy anyway.
If you’re wondering about the Pergear 50mm f1.8, it has all the same problems as the 35mm.
I just realized there is a Meike 25mm f1.8 that I don’t have. I’m ordering it now and will do look at it after I get through these Pergear lenses. It looks like it has the same optical design as the 7Artisans but with fewer aperture blades.
I feel like this lens is not as sharp as the 7Artisans and a lot of the other f1.8 lenses, but this could be because the Pergear really only performs well in the center. So buying the Meike will allow me to do a side-by-side comparison.
Check out all the different lenses available for your camera mount. I’ve been updating the Micro Four Thirds lens list lately which has a lot of these cheap lenses available for it.
Pergear 25mm f1.8 Bottom Line
I’m still working with this lens but it’s definitely a ton of fun to use. I like the build of the Pergear lenses a lot but there seems like there are some tradeoffs to the image quality compared to the Meike and 7Artisans lenses. Probably some more micro-contrast at the cost of some mid-frame sharpness.
Stopping down to f5.6 and all these lenses give pretty similar results with some minor differences, little tradeoffs that aren’t that big of a deal.
When wide-open at f1.8, I’m getting a softer or smoother rendering overall with these Pergear lenses because most of the sharpness is just in the center frame. If you can work with that, you can get some cool results but the minute you place the subject in the rule of thirds area of the frame and shoot wide open, you run into some sharpness issues. This would mean it’s more than a field curvature issue.
Pay attention to that in these samples below, and remember super sharp images are not always necessary for all styles of photography. You still get good 3d pop even though the images are not sharp so if you’re shooting older people that are worried about wrinkles, this can be a cool solution.
Overall, it’s not a bad lens, the build quality makes up for a lot of the issues with the image quality and you can get some really cool pop with some crispiness especially when your subject is center frame while shooting wide open.
So far I’m really enjoying using these lenses but they are clearly different than the Meike and 7Art lenses.
PerGear 25mm f1.8 Sample Images
When I mark the data with the f-, it means I don’t remember what aperture I was at. Strong vignetting probably means closer to f1.8.
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