The Meike 85mm f1.8 lens is an auto focus prime lens designed for mirrorless cameras. The one I have here is for Nikon Z mount cameras, but there are others for Sony and Fujifilm. This lens offers an 85mm focal length, making it ideal for portrait photography, as well as other applications such as street photography and close-up shots. Here is a comprehensive review of the Meike 85mm f1.8 lens, for Nikon Z line of cameras.
I got my package from Ali Express and they really made sure it got here safely. Inside the box, is the lens itself, an instruction manual, some more user manual and that’s it. Gladly, this lens comes with a lens hood straight out of the box. It isn’t the best hood on the market cos it’s plastic and looks and feels exactly like plastic. Super cheap quality, but given the price of this lens, I can’t complain much. The plastic lens hood is reversible, so that’s neat.
As always, first thing first. Let’s talk about the Build Quality
The Meike 85mm f1.8 lens features a questionable build with some arguably tough plastic construction. It feels sturdy in hand and is well-designed, with smooth and precise focusing and aperture rings. The lens has a good weight to it at 386g/0.85lb for the body only. This feature provides a striking balance between being substantial enough for stability and comfortable for handheld shooting.
On the sides is the Auto and Manual switch. Included in the metallic mount is a Micro USB port, which allows you to connect the lens to your computer in case of any firmware updates. Speaking of such, this is how it looks when you connect it to the computer. You’ll see 2 files, 1 is a READ ME html file and the other is the Text Document with the current firmware version of the lens as its name. When you open up the READ ME file, you get some information on how to upgrade the lens firmware via their website. Unfortunately, the only firmware update for this particular type of lens was only available for SONY cameras. Even if there was an update, I may not have updated it cos this works just fine for me. I would hate to update and later have issues with focussing and the likes.
Up front is the massive glass which features a 67mm in diameter for mounting lens hood, UV and ND filters. The mounting ring is full metal so no durability issues here. With that mentioned, I should say that the lens has no weather sealing so be mindful when using it around the natural elements. A few splashes here and there shouldn’t and wouldn’t be a problem. I say this because, I personally shot an exclusive session during a traditional wedding while there was a down pour. It wasn’t a heavy rain, but it was enough to get wet in it.
Note that this lens comes in two forms. 1 is the regular Meike Lens that you may probably have seen around. They mostly mount to Canon EF, Sony E and Nikon F mount systems. But this new and upgraded autofocus versions which mount directly to your mirrorless camera without the need for any adapters. So, for Sony Mirrorless and Nikon Z cameras, this is the one to go for. A couple of reviews complained that the older versions they had, didn’t work so well with their cameras, when they use the adapters. You may have also noticed that there’s the hollow area within the lens before you reach the glass on the back. My guess is, Meike probably just extended the old lens system to fix well on new mirrorless camera. Similar body, but extended.
Compare to the regular Nikon 85mm f1.8 F mount lens, this is how they both stack up. Notice how the Meike Lens extends at the rear end.
The focussing ring turns infinitively and smoothly in manual focus. There isn’t too much resistance that will make it too stiff to turn, but there’s just enough to make manual focussing satisfying. On the subject of focussing, this autofocus lens focusses smoothly and with little to no noise. Fun fact, it sounds quieter than Nikon’s own Nikkor 85mm f1.8 F mount lens. Here’s a test for you, have a listen.
Meike 85mm f1.8 is a medium-telephoto lens designed for medium and long-range shooting. So, if you’re someone who likes zoomed in close up portrait shots, then this focal length of 85mm is one to consider. The wide aperture of f1.8 also allows you to shoot fast moving subjects at a faster shutter speed, while also providing you with the freedom to shoot poorly lit scenes at lower ISOs. We all know how sometimes the Wedding Reception setup has poor lighting. Well, this is one of the times you would need a wider aperture the most.
The lens is easy to carry and its images are sharp and clear at most apertures. Note that the aperture ranges from f1.8 to f22. The lens comes with 9 aperture blades so blurry background or bokeh looks amazing. There are a lot of circular bokeh shapes which is equally impressive, given the fact that some more expensive lenses only offer cat eye bokeh shapes.
With a minimum focusing distance of 0.85m, you can’t get too close to subject to photograph them. This isn’t an issue for me because, I got and 85mm lens just so, I can stand further away and still get my shot. But sometimes, just sometimes, you may want to get an extremely close up shot of say, the wedding ring or jewellery, and you wouldn’t be able to do that with this lens.
In terms of image quality, the Meike 85mm f1.8 Z lens delivers excellent results. Well almost. When shot wide open at f /1.8, it produces a pleasing shallow depth of field and beautiful background blur, allowing for subject isolation and creating a pleasing bokeh effect. The lens is sharp in the center, with good contrast and detail rendition. Stopping down the aperture further enhances the overall sharpness across the frame. Yet, I did notice that the level of chromatic aberration at a wider aperture is super high in high contrast scenes. And just as stopping down improves sharpness, so does it improve the purple fringing.
Focus breathing is one other issue I noticed with this lens. Each time you change focus, it hunts just a tod more, right before it hits the focus point. Due to that, I sometimes get blurry images because I press the shutter button a bit too quickly. This issue is most noticeable in poorly lit environments though, so in such situations, just wait for that fraction of a second till it hits the focus, before you release the shutter.
If you’re interested in sample shots, kindly visit my Instagram page linked below for more. Also, everything mentioned in this video and more to buy and linked in the description below.
Considering its price point, the Meike 85mm f1.8 Z lens offers excellent value for money. It provides image quality and performance comparable to more expensive options in the market, making it an attractive choice for photographers on a budget or those looking to expand their lens collection without breaking the bank.
In conclusion, this lens is a well-built and an affordable option for mirrorless camera users seeking a fast prime lens with a classic focal length. For $200, I would go for no other option.