Finally, I’m just about caught up in all the tedious stuff one must do to make a living off a blog and I can finally get back into doing the things I like to do, testing out crazy lenses and have fun shooting the way I like to shoot.
I have something like 8 or 9 lenses just lying around waiting to get reviewed. Some of them not so exciting, some of them are really exciting, like this lens, the Meike 35mm f1.7.
I finally just started shooting with it and wow. Just wow.
Those that have been following me know I love testing out cheap Chinese lenses in the search of gems. There have been a few. Probably my favorite cheap Chinese lens is the 7Artisans 35mm f1.2. The 7Artisans 25mm f1.8 was almost good, just the design and build quality had too many issues. The 7Artisans 55mm f1.4 I actually thought was pretty cool for the price, and then there was the Kamlan 50mm f1.1, a lens that really underperformed for APS-C, but was cool for Micro 4/3. I’m actually really excited to try out the Mark II. Hopefully they fleshed out the design a little.
Also, since I’ve completely digressed, I was told (by the owner) Handevision has been working with new engineers and they’ve silently updated and fleshed out all the build quality issues some lenses experienced with the first production run. The Handevision 75mm f2.4 is a must have. It’s impressive, the 35mm f2.4 is nice also, but the 50mm probably isn’t worth it. Those are full frame lenses though, so that’s kind of a whole different beast, and Handevision lenses are on a different level than these cheap-o lenses (mostly with build quality) so you’ll need to be a little more sober before buying one of them.
So where does the Meike 35mm f1.7 sit?
I actually like it a little bit more than the 7Artisans 35mm f1.2.
Since this isn’t a review but just general chit-chat and first impressions. I can’t tell you exactly what’s going on with this lens until I shoot all my charts and put it through all the boring tests that take two full days of tedious work. Initially, I’m liking it more than the 7Artisans 35mm f1.2 because it’s just a bit more controlled, a bit tamer and easier to handle, but you still get a lot of cool character.
The 7Artisans 35mm f1.2 is a must have manual focus lens in my opinion, because of the price and glorious character. But, the Meike 35mm f1.7 is looking like it does everything just a little bit better, minus a bit of the wild character. You don’t get the f1.2 aperture, instead you get f1.7, but, for the way I shoot, f1.2 on the 7Artisans 35mm f1.2 was just a little too wild and I couldn’t leave it wide open all the time like I can with an f1.7 lens.
Everyone always thinks faster is better, but you often sacrifice a lot to get that speed. I never really loved the Mitakon 35mm f0.95 II. Cool lens, but I find it’s rendering boring, and it’s just not that fun. Images coming from it just don’t punch me in the face like with this Meike 35mm f1.7. But, at f0.95 you’re thrown into a whole different world which can be really cool in the right situations.
Because the Meike 35mm f1.7 is a little bit larger of a lens compared to the 35mm f1.2, it’s a little bit more controlled with center and corner sharpness, it doesn’t flare as much or produce as many aberrations and it looking like it has more micro contrast, compared to the 7Art 35mm f1.2.
This actually might be the punchiest lens I’ve used since the 7Artsians 25mm f1.8, which I think had the best micro contrast of any lens I’ve ever used. I think this is number two. Somewhere mixed in with these is that Industar 50-2 lens.
Also, this is my first Meike lens and so far the build quality seems nice. I know these all come from the same factory, but this Meike is feeling good, no stiff focus issues, no drifting focus, doesn’t come unscrewed and fall apart like a lot of the 7Artisans lenses. So that’s another plus. I could have just been lucky with my copy though. But seriously, these lenses are cheap enough where that doesn’t even matter.
Anyways, the Meike 35mm f1.7 review is coming soon. I’m going to finish up my Fujinon 23mm f2 lens review first, then move over to this one. Then work on some lens comparisons.
All photos here are also processed using my Lightroom new presets that I’ve been working on for the last 6 months. They are getting extremely cool, but it will probably be another 3-4 months before they are ready. I’m pretty excited about them and I think you guys are going to love em, but right now I’m trying to figure out how to make them look good on Canon cameras since I’ve mostly designed them for Fujifilm and Sony. As you probably already know, Canon RAW files have a very different look than Fujifilm and Sony.
If you just picked up a new Sony A6300 or X-T3 and want to have a little fun and adventure with cheap manual lenses, I recommend starting here.
Meike 35mm f1.7: Amazon
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Have you tried the Voigtlander 35 mm f 1.2? Definitely more expensive than the Meike or Artisans7 but its optical qualities are worth mentioning (after all we may not buy a new lens everyday and may also want to keep the one we bought for more than a decade without regrets. ;o)
Not yet, I really want to though. There are so many Voigtlander lenses I want and I love the ones I have. I’m kind of waiting to see if they offer any more of their lenses in any of the new mirrorless mounts.
What does the lens look like? I’ve seen different versions. On the Meike website it has red and white markings but on eBay it’s all white. And some of the ones on eBay have not Meike logo on the front. How do I make sure I get a genuine copy?
https://alikgriffin.com/meike-35mm-f1-7-review-sample-photos/ Here is a review with a bunch of photos. It’s not uncommon for them to change the designs on these a little as they go. I’ve seen that with a few of these Chinese lenses.
And as far as genuine copy, these lenses are mass produced at a factory then sold out to a few companies for different branding purposes. Meike is one of the main sellers of this style of lens, but some 7Artisans lenses have the exact same style. I’m not sure which company is actually doing the development and R&D on these. I know 7Artisans was designing some of their own lenses, Meike might do design as well since they make a lot of accessories or maybe they all work together to cut costs. I’m not really sure and this company has never reached out to me.
Thank you very much for that link and information. I’ve been a bit confused about these cheap brands. Where did you get your copy from?
Also, do you know about SainSonic.com? Are they affiliated with any of these manufacturers?
I can’t remember but I think SainSonic might be a parent company for all these companies or something. Just like Zhongyi makes the Mitakon lenses and the SLR Magic lenses. A lot of these companies are tied together like that. In Korea you have Samyang, Rokinon, Bower etc. But I’m pretty sure I could call up Zhongyi and say, hey I have a million dollars can you make me a line of Griffin Lenses, and they would.
There are a few exceptions in China. Kipon is a rock-solid lens company, I believe they assemble Kamlan lenses, so Kamlan is outside of that little sphere of factory direct lenses and you’ll notice their lenses have very good build quality. Then there is also Loawa, but I don’t know much about them, they operate outside of Shenzhen. Kipon has a lot of the equipment to do lens development correctly, I think Mitakon does as well, but Kipon actually hires very experienced German designers to work with them, I think they even got a guy that use to work with Leica at some point, where I think Mitakon just tries to figure it out with their own team which is why some of their lenses are on the Mark III versions. Mitakon tries to build lenses with all the latest available tech. Actually, Technically those Kipon lenses are on their Mark III now too. There were two versions of them as Handevision, then had them redesigned by some awesome German dude.
I use to talk to the owner of Kipon a lot and he gave me a lot of great insider info on how things work in China but I haven’t talked to him lately and that was like a year ago. But Neewer, 7Artisans, Meike, Zonlai etc, they all make the same lenses but sometimes they have slightly different tweaks to them. I think they all come from the same factory. It’s like an open-air market down there, you can just walk through the streets and get your name engraved on junk and resell it. Kind of. 🙂
I buy all my lenses on Amazon unless I get something from Kipon where I will reach out to their sales team in Tokyo. The reason I buy on Amazon is sometimes these cheap lenses have serious issues and need to be returned. But I mean, I’ve returned Sony, Fujifilm, Rokinon and SLR Magic lenses as well. Lens design has to be very precise so always test what you have right when you get it and make sure nothing is seriously wrong.
Wow thank you for all that! Learned a lot. I really appreciate it!
Alik can I ask you, I just bought a canon m50 body, I’m looking for a lens for it, do you think this lens would be similar on that camera? I love the photos you have here.
I’m looking to do vlogging also, but I just need a lense to start with.
Yes totally! Those Canon’s are great for using lenses like this. Canon uses the 1.7x crop APS-C sensors so the 35mm has the equivalency of 60mm full frame instead of 52mm with my Fujifilm. This has some advantages in that it pulls the corners in a little more from the edge of the circle or projection which should give you slightly better results. I just can’t remember how the m50 does its focus peaking. On my EOS R, focus peaking is good, but when I push the button punch in to check focus, the peaking turns off. Sometimes this was cool, sometimes this bugged me, but I’ve never felt there was issues using manual focus lenses on my Canons.
You can still do all the same tricks to help you see peaking better, like shooting RAW and setting the profile to be black and white, or turning up camera sharpness to make the peaking more defined.
Thank you so much for writing back. I think I’m inclined to try the smaller one, the 25mm at first. For the wider shot for vlogging, you know.
I’ll let you know how it goes. I was going to suggest that you post links for canon lens also, I don’t know if I were to click your say Sony link, then buy a canon one, if it would still register for you. You might check that out.
Other than that, I’m jealous of your choice of models. You couldn’t have lucked into more photogenic ones.
Have a great week.
Yeah, once you click into amazon, you can buy baby diapers and it still registers. 🙂 I usually post individual links to everything, but didn’t get around to it on this one. I kind of do these cheap lens reviews more for fun . . . and backlinks, which is essentially worth more than money for a blog.
I see. They track everything. 🙂
To be honest though I can see how people compare the more expensive lenses vs cheaper ones, but I’ve been following video etc since the 90s. All of it is cheap now. I can remember when it was 10,000 dollars just for a Targa card, let alone the storage. I once paid 2000 just for a 4.5 Gig Barracuda hard drive. Electronics have come into their own. Now you actually can make your own movie. That’s a fascinating market in itself. 🙂
Have a nice week Alik.
Hi, Would you recommend 35mm or 25mm meike lens? I’m using mft, and I’m looking 1 lense for night photography and potrait. I’ve seen this 2 lenses only offer small difference, I guess. However, I don’t know the detail comparisson of those 2, since what I know, only 10 mm difference and f1.7 or f1.8. Do you have any opinions? thank you
That’s a tough one, on an MFT camera it’s a different thing. I would probably go with the 25mm for MFT.
Hi thanks for answering! Would let me know why 25 instead of 35mm?
Because I think in general 25mm is more useful than 35mm on MFT so I would start there, and it’s great for everything. Where as 35mm can be difficult to use especially in places without a lot of room because you have to get pretty far back when shooting portraits.