Review by Klaus Schroiff, published July 2022. Lens sample provided by Meike.
Fish-eye lenses may not be the most popular lenses around, but they can, obviously, provide images with a unique character. A field-of-view of 190 degrees (diagonal) is quite something – and they can be lots of fun. For most photographers, they are just too exotic to spend much money on them, but you don’t have to – which is where the Meike 7.5mm f/2.8 Fisheye finds its place. At just $149, it’s about as affordable as it gets. The lens is available in most APS-C mounts as well as Micro-Four-Thirds. So let’s look at whether it’s also “good enough” to do the job.
This is the first Meike lens that found its way into our lab. Until recently, their product design language was somewhat mixed, but they seem to have settled on a more uniform one in their latest set of manual focus lenses, and it’s a pretty attractive one as well. The lens body is a tightly assembled, all-metal construction. Weather-sealing is not provided, but you won’t use such a lens during rain anyway – rain drops on the front element would be inevitable because the built-in lens hood is tiny. The fluted focus ring is dampened and operates smoothly. The aperture ring has one of the best tactile actions we have used so far. It provides full-stop, almost noiseless and soft clicks from f/2.8 to f/16. While the lens itself has an almost luxurious feel, the lens cap is made of cheaper plastics that scratches easily.
Due to the manual nature of the lens, there’s no EXIF data, no AF and no camera-controlled aperture. Given the depth-of-field of a fish-eye lens, this is hardly an issue in real life. If you set the focus to ~1.5m, all of your average scenes will be in focus even at f/2.8. Most cameras offer efficient guidance for manual focusing, so close-ups shouldn’t be an issue.
|Equivalent focal length (full-format)
|Equivalent aperture (depth-of-field, full-format)
|11 elements in 9 groups
|Number of aperture blades
|min. focus distance
|0.15m (max. magnification 1:?)
|Fujifilm X, Sony E, Nikon Z, EOS M, M43
Fish-eye lenses are fish-eye lenses so it doesn’t make much sense to provide numeric figures here. Our usual distortion test-charts looks like this here:
And for the fun of it – when trying to place the edges of the grid into the image corners the effect looks like this – taken from a 10cm distance or so.
Sorry, no vignetting figures this time – there’s no reliable way for us to measure this with such a lens. However, the issue is moderate based on the sample images we took.
The resolution characteristic of the Meike 7.5mm f/2.8 Fisheye is quite astounding really. While it is basically impossible to take lab readings for the corner performance, the lens provided tack sharp results in the image center, and the borders are already very good at f/2.8 and great at f/4. In real life – see our sample image section – the corners are also pretty impressive. Diffraction shows some impact from f/11 onward, so it’s best to stick to medium aperture settings if possible.
The centering quality of the tested sample was good.
Please note that the MTF results are not directly comparable across the different systems!
Below is a simplified summary of the formal findings. The chart shows line widths per picture height (LW/PH) can be taken as a measure of sharpness. If you want to know more about the MTF50 figures you may check out the corresponding Imatest Explanations.
Chromatic Aberrations (CAs)
You may think lateral CAs have to be bad on such an affordable lens, but this isn’t the case here. With an average CA pixel width of around 1px at the image borders, you can spot this at times, but it’s not dramatic. The issue increases somewhat in the corners, though.
Flare may be the weakest aspect of the Meike 7.5mm f/2.8 Fisheye. While Meike claims that this lens is multi-coated, it still struggles with strong light sources.
The effect can be interesting at times, though – like these “traveling” ghostings below. There’s also some loss of contrast but it’s not extreme.
And yes, the lens can also produce sun stars.
Whilst Sony doesn’t offer a native fish-eye lens, the Meike lens isn’t without competition. Most third-party Chinese manufacturers offer these lenses. Additionally, there’s the new Tokina SZ 8mm f/2.8 E Fish-Eye and the more ambitious Samyang 8mm F2.8 UMC Fish-eye II – but these two are substantially more expensive already.
Initially, we raised the question of whether the Meike 7.5mm f/2.8 Fish-eye is "good enough" given its very low price point. And to answer this - yes, it is. In fact, we were very surprised by the very high degree of sharpness. This is already impressive at f/2.8 and great at medium aperture settings across most of the frame. Lateral CAs are reasonably well controlled as well. Vignetting and distortions aren't relevant criteria for a fish-eye lens. If we had to mention a weakness, it would be its limited flare resistance against very strong light sources that can produce light halos and ghostings.
It's an all-manual lens which may be a showstopper for some users. However, we wouldn't call this a serious limitation because the depth-of-field of such a lens is so big that you can easily set some default settings, and you'd be good to go in most photographic situations. Both the focus and aperture rings are a joy to use. The focus ring is nicely dampened, whereas the aperture ring offers soft clicks. Combine this with the metal construction, and it's an excellent package.
So overall, you'd get lots of bangs for your bucks here. Thus if you are in the market for a decent and affordable fish-eye lens, this may be the one!
Price / Performance