Cheap lenses don’t always have to feel cheap. The Meike 25mm F/1.8 is a lens that feels like a premium vintage lens even though it’s quite the opposite. The 75 Euro/USD lens is made for crop APS-C cameras. It equals a 35mm to 40mm full-frame lens, depending on the camera that is being used.
The all manual lens is compact and has a metal housing. It feels heavy for its small size, weighing around 200 grams. The focus and stepless aperture ring turn pretty smooth but don’t always seem to have the same friction. The manual rings were also one of the reasons I wanted to use it for capturing video. The front filter thread has a diameter of 49mm so it’s easy to mount a step up filter, to be able to use a 52mm ND filter when filming in bright conditions.
When filming wide open at F/1.8, the bokeh turns swirly towards the edges. The overall best sharpness can be achieved between F/5.6 and F/8. But sometimes I still noticed some heavy distortion around the edges.
The bokeh balls are mostly round in the center when shooting wide open. The highlight roll-off is surprisingly good, which I noticed when filming in low light.
Barrel distortion is noticeable when shooting between F/1.8 and F/2.8. This is especially visible because the edges are rather soft. I would say the edges are almost out of focus when focusing on infinity. Only the center seems to be in focus.
I think the Meike 25mm F/1.8 is a good choice if you don’t like a clinical and perfect digital look. It can certainly be distracting, and I wouldn’t use this lens for corporate video shoots. But at times it can add a nice vintage touch to a video. Depending on what you are shooting, these optical imperfections can either be something you are looking for or they are a deal breaker.
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Written by filmmaker Moritz Janisch on May 22, 2020