After released a 3.5mm fisheye lens for micro four thirds cameras not too long ago, Meike has just released a new 50mm f/1.2 ultra fast lens for various full frame camera systems including Sony E, Nikon Z, Canon RF and EF. (L-mount coming soon as well). I’ve being testing the Nikon Z version on a Nikon Z6 for a while and I’m sharing my test results and user impressions with you in this review.
If you are interested in the Sony, Canon version, since all the different versions share the same optical formula so should have identical optical performance.
In this review, I’m also going to compare the Meike 50mm f/1.2 with one of my favourite lens, the Nikon AIS 50mm f/1.2. They are both manual focus lenses, and one of the rare f/1.2 native Nikon mount lens you can buy brand new today.
The Nikon AIS 50mm f/1.2 would cost you US$699.95 from most retailers and the Meike’s price is $359.99. The Meike is about half the price of the Nikon, so it would be interesting to see if the image quality of the Meike is like when compared to the much older but also more expensive Nikon.
Meike has also kindly offers a $20 discount code for my readers. You can go to their website: https://bit.ly/2ChSAVV
And use my discount Code: MK50F12 for $20 discount. This should bring the Meike’s price down to $339. Btw, this is NOT an affiliated link.
And a quick disclaimer before we start, Meike sent me the sample I used to work on this review, but this doesn’t affect the review and you’ll hear me talk about things I like and don’t like about this lens as usual.
The Meike 50mm f/1.2 is quite a big and heavy lens. The size is almost as big as the Sigma ART 50mm f/1.4 lens, one of the biggest in the class. Personally I don’t mind too much about the weight, but I do wish it is a bit smaller. It just looks a little bit too large for a 50mm prime lens.
The Meike is a lot bigger than the Nikon AIS 50mm f/1.2. However, if you want to use the Nikon AIS 50mm f/1.2 on a Nikon Z camera, you do have to use the FTZ adaptor which would make the total size of the Nikon AIS a lot closer to the size of the Meike.
The Meike 50 f/1.2 feels very solid because of it’s metal construction. This is probably the most well made Meike lens i’ve ever used. Compare to the Meike 50 1.7 I’ve reviewed not too long ago, the Meike 50mm f/1.2 feels more premium. The focus ring feels better dampened on the 50mm f/1.2 lens And even the 50mm f/1.2’s front lens cap has a better design instead of the generic one on the Meike 50mm f/1.7. It’s great to see Meike is paying more attention to all the small design details.
The aperture ring is at the front of the lens. It is a de-clicked ring so videographers would love it. My regular readers would know I’m not a big fan of de-clicked aperture ring. I’ve suggested to Meike if they could make it a switchable design so photographers could have clicks instead. To be honest this is not the first time i gave this feedback to Meike but I’ll keep trying until I see that happened one day!
The focus ring is at the back of the lens. Focus throw is around 90 degree which isn’t that long for a fast prime lens. The focus ring is very smooth and as I mentioned before well dampened.
One thing I like about the focus ring is that the far end of the focus ring is exactly at infinity. Unlike most other manual lenses which the focus would actually goes a bit beyond infinity so you would have to dial back a little bit after you hit the hard stop, with the Meike, you can just turn the focus ring all the way and you are ready to shoot your landscape photos (or anything that needs infinity focus) immediately!
Meike’s center sharpness at f/1.2 is acceptable, with a little bit of glow in the high contrast area. It is very useable especially for portrait. Stop down to f/2, then both the sharpness and contrast improve a lot. From f/2.8 onwards the center becomes very sharp.
Compare to the Nikon AIS 50 f/1.2, the center sharpness of these two lenses is very similar. Both are slightly soft at f/1.2 but then becomes much sharper once we stop down. The Meike’s center sharpness appears to be marginally better than the Nikon at the same aperture when we are stopping down. The difference isn’t big, but i can see that when comparing the photos shot at the same aperture. See if you can see that in the comparison photos below (click to see at full size)
Please click on the sharpness photos to see them at full size
In terms of corner sharpness, at f/1.2, the Meike is really soft, a bit smudgy. And the thing is even when stop down the corner still doesn’t improve too much.
The Nikon AIS 50mm f/1.2 is also very soft at the corner but slightly better than the Meike. The Nikon also become quite a bit sharper once stop down to around f/4.
When shooting at f/1.2 with the Meike 50mm f/1.2, Chromatic aberration can be quite noticeable in some of the photos. But to be fair, the amount of chromatic aberration is quite acceptable for an ultra fast prime lens.
If I compare it to the Nikon AIS 50mm f/1.2, the Nikon has more chromatic aberration when shooting under same condition.
Overall i would say Meike’s CA control is not perfect but not terrible for a f/1.2 lens either
With the Meike 50mm f/1.2, there is a bit of cat’s eye bokeh especially when shooting at wide open. But overall it’s quite smooth and round. And there is almost no rim highlight near the edge of the bokeh
The Nikon 50mm f/1.2 also has cat’s eye bokeh, just like the Meike. But the bokeh from the Nikon looks a bit harsher, with highlight at the edge of the bokeh which makes the bokeh looks more nervous than the Meike.
When stopped down, bokeh from Meike remains relatively round but the Nikon turns into hexagon shape very quickly.
Overall, if you want more character, Nikon is the lens for you. But if you want smooth and more dreamy bokeh, Meike would be your choice instead
Both the Meike and Nikon lenses can have quite a bit of lens flare and ghosting when you shoot directly into the sun or a very bright light source. The Meike appear to have more lens flare than the Nikon and I can see more circular shape ghosting in some of the comparison photos I shot. Unfortunately both lenses don’t come with any lens hood so you have to be careful if you want to avoid lens flare. Take advantage of the lens flare for some artistic lens flare effect
Vignetting is quite noticeable at f/1.2. Stop down to f/2 improves quite a lot.
Stop down to f/2.8 then vignetting is only barely noticeable
Compare with the Nikon, the Meike has less vignetting at the same aperture.
For a 50mm prime lens, I was expecting the Meike 50 1.2 to have very small amount of distortion just like the Meike 50mm 1.7. But looking at photos, there is quite a bit of distortion. If i look at the brick wall test photo then it’s quite easily noticeable.
One interesting thing is, when I test the Nikon 50 1.2, the amount of distortion is actually very similar! So yes the Meike isn’t any better than the Nikon 50 1.2 but not any worse as well,
There are two main reasons why you want to buy a fast aperture lens. One is the shallow depth of field, the other is to help shooting under low light as the lens can allow more light enter the camera.
And here is a set of comparison with photos shot with the Meike 50mm f/1.2 at f1/2 and the Sigma ART 50mm f/1.4 at f/1.4
You can easily see the Meike f/1.2 photo is quite a bit brighter than the Sigma f/1.4 photo.
Here is a comparison with the Nikon AIS 50 1.2 both shot at same camera settings and at f/1.2. In terms of brightness, i would say the results are very similar.
When I checked the histogram in Lightroom, the NIkon is slightly brighter, but only marginally by approximately 0.1EV.
Image quality is really a relative term. To judge it fairly, there are many factors we should consider, the focal length, the maximum aperture, and price..etc.
Consider the Meike 50mm f/1.2 is a very fast f/1.2 lens and the price is only US$359, I really need to adjust my expectation accordingly. While lens flare, distortion and corner sharpness could all be a bit better, no one should expect at $359 f/1.2 full frame lens to be perfect. Even if it’s $1359, a f/1.2 full frame lens probably won’t be perfect.
With that considered, I think the Meike has delivered very acceptable performance with this new 50mm f/1.2 lens and it has a very useable f/1.2 ultra fast aperture. That is very important because when you get a f/1.2 lens, that’s the aperture you want to shoot at quite regularly.
Build quality is the best from Meike so far. Solid, feel more premium than the previous Meike lenses. I wish the size of the lens is a bit smaller, and closet to the Nikon AIS 50mm f/1.2, but it’s still quite acceptable for a f/1.2 full frame lens.
Value for money? If you are looking at getting a fast lens for your Nikon Z camera (or one of the other supported mount), the answer is definitely YES!
(all shot on Nikon Z6 with Meike 50mm f/1.2, most photos shot at f/1.2)