Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube Flickr 500px
See My Reviews

Meike 85mm F1.8 STM Review

Dustin Abbott

August 1st, 2022

Meike is one of many newer lens companies who have specialized in inexpensive manual focus lenses (though they also have a lineup of slightly higher end cine lenses).  I’ve spent time with three Meike manual focus lenses in the past, including a very inexpensive 50mm F1.7 and a more expensive 50mm F1.2.  I’ve also tested no less than 10+ 85mm options on Sony E-mount, but none as inexpensive as the first autofocus lens from Meike that I’ve ever reviewed – the Meike 85mm F1.8 STM.  The Meike 85STM (as I’ll call it for brevity in this review) can be had for only $200 USD despite having a decent build quality, fairly good autofocus, and fairly good image quality as well. 

The previous cheapest autofocusing 85mm option that I’ve reviewed on Sony has been the Viltrox 85mm F1.8 STM, but that lens will set you back more than double the cost of the Meike, making this a tempting option if you are looking for a seriously inexpensive portrait lens and don’t want to mess with manual focus.

The Meike 85STM can’t compete at the top levels with some of the best 85mm options on Sony FE, but it’s a surprisingly competent lens at this price point, capable of producing some lovely images.  Is it enough lens for you?  You can get the full picture by either watching my video review below or reading on to get the full picture.


Follow Me @ YouTube | Patreon |  Instagram | Facebook | DA Merchandise | Flickr | 500px

Thanks to Meike for sending me a review loaner of this lens. As always, this is a completely independent review. *The tests and most of the photos that I share as a part of my review cycle have been done with the Sony a7IV along with the Sony Alpha 1 which will serve as my benchmark camera for the foreseeable future (my review here).

Meike 85STMBuild and Handling

The Meike 85STM stands out as being lightweight (356g/12.2oz) but not for being small.  I was quite surprised when I pulled out my Sigma 85mm F1.4 DN and found that the physical differences between the two lenses was not significant.

The Meike is the largest of the 4 85mm F1.8 lenses for the Sony that I compared, with a diameter of 80mm (3.15”) and a length of 92mm (3.62”).  The Sony 85mm F1.8 wins for the most compact of the quartet, though the Meike wins for being the lightest.  I’ve used my own physical measurements and weight for the Meike after finding some minor variance from posted numbers.

The reason for that larger-than-expected size is made clear when I look in the back of the lens and find a significant cavity before the glass of the rear element.  I’ve noted that Meike has previously had a Canon EF and Nikon F version of this lens.  I suspect that Meike has ported this lens to the mirrorless Sony E-mount much like Sigma did with their earliest full frame lenses for Sony.  Making that transition requires moving the optical path forward for proper focus and leaves what is essentially the size of an adapter built into the length of the lens.  The Canon version of this lens is about 17mm shorter…as expected.

A look at the rear also shows a welcome inclusion – a USB-C port built into the mount for firmware updates.  This recent trend is a very positive one as it means that firmware updates can be done without some kind of dock or accessory, and those firmware updates can keep third party lenses from becoming obsolete due to changes to the camera systems (or camera firmware) that they are made for.

A look in the front of the lens reveals a lot of glass inside (always a welcome sight!) and a very common 67mm front filter thread.

The lens is made from engineered plastics that feel slightly cheaper than those used in more expensive lenses, though the lens doesn’t feel overly plasticky, either.

The included lens hood is petal shaped and quite deep, which is good, as the lens needs it!

The Meike 85STM does have an AF/MF switch, which is always welcome as it is the most direct way to control that function.

The only other feature on the lens barrel is the focus ring, which feels a bit more plastic than many focus rings and moves with very little weight, though I did feel a tiny bit of drag when the lens was in AF mode, which is a bit unusual for a mirrorless lens (though as noted, I think this is more of a “ported” lens).  Manual focus action is a little lifeless, though on my Sony bodies I did get the automatic focus assist (magnification of the active area of focus), which is useful.

Minimum focus distance is 85cm/3 feet, which is about 5cm longer than average, leaving us with a below average amount of magnification at that distance (though unlisted, I peg it in the 0.10x-0.11x range.  Here’s what minimum focus distance looks like.

Obviously the level of magnification is not particularly high, but performance is quite good.  The plane of focus is nice and flat (helped by the distance!), and detail is quite good.  Contrast isn’t top notch, but that is consistent with the overall optical performance of the lens.  Up close shots are helped by the fact that the Meike 85STM can create some strong background blur, and the lower contrast makes for very nice, soft bokeh.

The lens has the standard nine curved aperture blades, and I did note some sound as the automatic aperture opened and closed (there’s far more aperture iris sound than focus sound, actually).  You can see that even at F4 the bokeh highlights look nice and round.

There is no weather sealing or image stabilization in the lens, though neither are expected at this price point.  Meike does mention some coatings on the front element that help make it more resistant to fingerprints and easy to clean.

All in all, the build quality is really pretty decent for what is easily the cheapest autofocusing 85mm lens that I’ve ever tested.  I can’t vouch for how the lens will hold up over the long haul, but this feels like a pretty decent lens for the money.

Autofocus Performance

I was intrigued to test an autofocusing lens from Meike as I had only tested manual focus lenses from them previously.  Overall I’ve had a quite positive experience with autofocus, though there are a few minor quirks that I’ll detail. 

One of the earliest things I did with the lens is take it out on a tennis outing with Craig and his wife along with my wife.  We played some doubles, but I also spent part of the time seeing how the lens would do tracking the action (and had Craig test it a bit as well for his review).  I shot several hundred frames on the Alpha 1, and found that the Meike 85STM had no problem keeping up with the moderately fast action of tennis.

Essentially all of the images where I (or Craig) had eye contact resulted in perfectly focused results, with focus missing only when the subject was turned away from the camera (like when hitting a backhand shot).

I also used it in a church setting, and found that Eye AF grabbed on quickly and accurately on the speaker.

My wife used the lens on the Sony a7IV for my little birthday party, and even in her somewhat inexperienced hands the lens delivered well focused results.

I also tracked some Loki action as he played the kinds of games that cats play with their prey, and Eye AF tracked him accurately as well.

I would have pretty much raved over the autofocus for such an inexpensive lens, but I did run into one issue.  Almost all of these tests to this point have been at or near maximum aperture.  I stopped the lens down for some landscape work, and found that at smaller apertures the lens did some hunting.  I wanted to track a nice cabin cruiser out on the river, and found that in the pulsing I could end up with a result like this:

…when what I wanted was this:

The problem?  I got that result after moving back to F2.8 to reduce the pulsing.  I was able to get well focused results at landscape distances and apertures, but that isn’t the strength for this autofocus system.

The good news is that there is a port for firmware updates, so there’s at least a chance that Meike can improve on this issue with a firmware tweak.

For the most part, however, I had a very positive experience with autofocus…even when I gave the AF system a little more challenging a target:

Considering this is Meike’s first autofocus lens on the Sony platform, I think they’ve done quite well in pulling it off.

Meike 85STM Image Quality

The Meike 85mm F1.8 STM sports a relatively simple optical formula of 9 elements in 6 groups, but maybe that’s not a bad thing.  You can certainly pull off some surprisingly sophisticated images out this inexpensive optic.

That’s not to say the lens is without flaws, but I’m not sure any of them are of the fatal variety.  Let’s break it down:

Longitudinal chromatic aberrations (LoCA) typically show up as purple/magenta fringing before the plane of focus and blue/green fringing beyond the plane of focus due to colors not being perfectly focused together.  They typically diminish as the lens is stopped down to smaller apertures.  You can see some purple fringing on this shot of a feather in the sand before the plane of focus.

If we zoom into that image of the cabin cruiser, we can see that some fringing remains even at F2.8:

The upside of some uncorrected fringing can be seen the in out of focus sand in the shot above, however, as this reduces contrast a bit, but that lower contrast also shows up in a positive way in soft, creamy bokeh.

Lateral chromatic aberrations (LaCA) show up as fringing on either side of contrast areas (like tree trunks, for example) along the edges of the frame.  Unlike LoCA, they do not improve when stopping the aperture down, but are much easier to correct for (typically a one click “remove chromatic aberrations” box in editing software).  There’s no problem with LaCA here, as both transition areas in real world images and on my test chart are nice and neutral.

I also give very positive marks for the performance with distortion and vignette.  There is a very mild amount of pincushion distortion (-3 to correct) and an insignificant amount of vignette (+29 to correct).  You can see the before/after here:

So how about sharpness?  We’ll do our formal test on the full frame (35mm) image circle that the lens is designed for, using the 50MP Sony Alpha 1 for this series of tests.  Here’s a look at the test chart:

And here are the F2.8 crops at nearly 200% magnification, taken from the center, then mid-frame, and then extreme lower right corner:

We see fairly good sharpness in the center and midframe, though contrast is only okay.  You can see a slight haze on the textures.  This intensifies into the corners, where acuity is lower and textures are more “smeared”. 

Real world results in the middle two thirds of the images look quite good, however, with good levels of bokeh, lower fringing, and soft bokeh.

There is a bit of a contrast boost at F2, and since there is little penalty in terms of light gathering and subject isolation, it might be worth shooting at F2 over F1.8.

By F2.8 there is a clear improvement in contrast and resolution in the center:

…and in the corners:

But by F4 the corners are looking really exceptional, and the lens is pretty close to razor sharp across the frame even on a high resolution (50MP) body:

Real world images at smaller apertures also look nice, with good detail and contrast:

As previously noted, I felt like the bokeh from the lens was better than average (surprisingly).  It is nice and creamy both before and after the plane of focus.

Even slightly busier scenes still render nicely.

Color rendition is also good, with nice levels of saturation while still looking natural.

All in all, this is really a very strong optical performance for such an inexpensive lens.  You can take some images that look like they were made with a much more expensive lens than what this really costs. If you would like to see more images, check out my image gallery here.


In conclusion, I’m actually quite impressed with what Meike has done here.  The Meike 85mm F1.8 STM has moments that remind me that this is a budget lens, but the overall performance from the autofocus motor and the optics is much stronger than what I expected.  Now, to be fair, 85mm is not a difficult focal length to do well (I’ve reviewed very few bad 85mm lenses!), but this is a seriously nice option for those on a really tight budget.  I would be hard pressed to suggest a lens for $200 that would deliver better results.

And when you add to this a rather decent autofocus performance that worked well enough to track moderate action like tennis…

I’m left with a very positive feeling towards this inexpensive lens.  I haven’t always been impressed by Meike lenses, but I feel like this is a serious step in the right direction.  There are plenty of photographers who are on a tight budget but aren’t interested in manual focus, and if Meike could provide some low cost autofocus options I suspect they would find a very welcoming market.  The Meike 85mm F1.8 STM is definitely worth considering if you fall into that category!


  • Very strong price to performance ratio
  • Lovely, soft bokeh
  • Good center and midframe sharpness
  • Low distortion and vignette
  • Good sharpness across the frame at smaller apertures
  • Autofocus works well in most situations
  • Light weight
  • USB-C port for firmware updates


  • Some focus pulsing at smaller apertures
  • Lower contrast wide open
  • Noisy when changing aperture
  • “Ported” design makes the lens larger than it needs to be


Purchase the Meike 85mm F1.8 STM  @ B&H Photo  | Amazon |  Amazon Canada  | Amazon UK | Amazon Germany 

Purchase the Sony a7IV @ B&H Photo | Amazon | Camera Canada | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Amazon Germany 

Purchase the Sony Alpha 1 @ Camera Canada | B&H Photo | Amazon | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Amazon Germany | Ebay 

Purchase a Sony a9M2 @ B&H Photo | Amazon | Camera Canada | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Amazon Germany | Ebay 

Want to support this channel? Use these affiliate links to shop at: B&H Photo | Amazon | | Camera Canada | Ebay | Make a donation via Paypal

Buy DA Merchandise https://bit.ly/TWIMerch

Peak Design Leash Strap:  Peak Design StoreB&H Photo | Amazon | Amazon Canada  | Amazon UK

Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud 1-Year Subscription
Get a discount off all Skylum Editing Software (Luminar, Aurora HDR, AirMagic) by using code DUSTINHDR at checkout:
Visit Dustin’s Amazon Storefront and see his favorite gear

Purchasing your gear through B&H and these links helps fund this website and keeps the articles coming. You can also make a donation here if you would like.  Visit my Amazon page for some of my gear of choice! Thank you for your support.

Purchasing your gear through B&H and these links helps fund this website and keeps the articles coming. You can also make a donation here if you would like.  Visit my Amazon page for some of my gear of choice! Thank you for your support.

B&H Logo

Receive a 5% discount on all purchases at Amplis Foto, Canada’s Leading Photographic Supplier. Please enter discount code: AMPLIS52018DA in your cart. It is good for everything in your cart, and is stackable with other coupons, too! It will take 5% off your entire order! Proceeds go towards keeping this site going and providing you with new reviews!

Use Code “DUSTINHDR” to get $10 off ($15 CDN) any Skylum product:  Luminar, Aurora, or AirMagic

Purchase the Meike 85mm F1.8 STM  @ B&H Photo https://bhpho.to/3RxMDWK | Amazon https://amzn.to/3O7sGmV|  Amazon Canada https://amzn.to/3o4BhMB | Amazon UK https://amzn.to/3yOdtRU| Amazon Germany https://amzn.to/3Peh8Q2

Keywords: Meike 85mm F1.8 STM, Meike, 85mm, F1.8, STM, Sony, Meike 85 Review, Meike 85mm Review, Meike 85mm F1.8 Review, Full Frame, Review, Sony Alpha 1, Sony a7IV, Review, Hands On, Dustin Abbott, Real World, Comparison, Sharpness, Bokeh, Flare Resistance, Autofocus, Image Quality, Sample Images, Video, Photography, Sony a9, Sony a7IV, Sony Alpha 1, Sony A1, let the light in, #letthelightin, DA

DISCLAIMER: This article and description contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.