How to pick a lens -- Meike 25mm vs Pana 25mm vs Oly 25mm

Deneb

Mu-43 Rookie
Joined
Jun 1, 2021
Messages
12
Hello everyone,

As someone who is brand new to interchangeable lens cameras, I need help understanding what makes one lens better than another. Here are three lenses from three manufacturers with the same focal length, more or less the same apertures, and vastly different prices.
As you go down the list the lenses double in price. What do the expensive lenses do that the cheaper ones can't? I can see that the first one has manual focus so I guess that's why it's cheaper. But there must be something about the optical and mechanical quality of the other lenses to justify their price. The B&H website describes some of those features, like aspherical elements, coatings, and "rounded seven-blade diaphragm". But I don't know how to convert those things into an image in my head. I don't know if I should care about those features. Why should I care if the aperture has 12 blades or 7?

This forum has a "sample image showcase" thread for all of these lenses (here, here, and here) and in all cases I see amazing images. I would be very pleased if I could manage to take photos like those. So why don't I get the cheap $74 lens I can afford right now?
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2021
Messages
148
Location
Northwest Arkansas, USA
Real Name
Mike
General things

Number of different aspherical elements, aperture blades, and other specs don't really say much about image quality. Other specs such as size, weight, minimum focusing distance, max aperture, etc. are relevant but don't really tell you about quality.

The only spec listed that might would be MTF charts (for some limited perspective into sharpness and resolution) but those are not always supplied and typically not measured consistently across brands.

There may be differences in lens rendering that may be hard to see in downscaled forum images but would be apparent if the images were cropped further or you were looking closer to pixel level.

About most manual-focus only lenses

Most of these including the one listed do not have any electronic contacts and communication with the camera. That is, the camera won't know what is attached to it: no EXIF data for the shots, no aperture control via camera (it's physical on the lens itself), no correction for vignetting and distortion and chromatic aberrations by the camera for jpgs or even by most RAW development software. Handling will be different. On the other hand, you usually get some markings on the camera to help with manual focus (which may or may not be accurate), and most people find it better than the focus-by-wire system (rotating freely, electronic) manual focusing controls of most other lenses.

BTW title says Meike and post says 7artisans. There are other competing offerings in the range too!

What can be different between lenses?

Image quality (sharpness, contrast, resolution in different parts of the image), colors, distortion, lens flare against bright objects, shape of out-of-focus areas; all of the above changing at different apertures, quality control and sample-to-sample variation (the average lens may have properties XYZ but every unit rolling out of the factory will be different), build quality and reliability, weight, size, distribution of the weight, autofocus speed (and will be different on different cameras), smoothness and resistance for different adjustments, extra buttons/functions/switches (N/A here), weather sealing (N/A here), and more.



All that said, there have been times the Panasonic has sold for $100 new and the used price even now is probably in that range. I think that would be the best value unless you're 100% sure you don't need autofocus for what you're doing (and even then, probably still the best value).
 
Last edited:

PakkyT

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Jun 20, 2015
Messages
4,437
Location
Massachusetts, USA
As other pointed out the first lens in your list is 100% manual. You focus, you change dial in the aperture, and you have to remember that you used that lens and what aperture since there will be no exif info in the photos.

As to the other two, I have the Olympus and love it. Great little lens. I usually get my lenses used or refurbed and I think my wife got me the Oly 25mm for my birthday or Xmas and get it for a price better than the one you list.

That said, while I have no experience with that particular Panny lens, it is hard to beat that price. Personally I would definitely say the difference is worth it to step up from the purely manual lens, but it would be hard to claim the Olympus is twice the lens of the Panny. I mostly use all Oly lenses but have one Panny now and another I used for years and sold it to upgrade to a different lens. In both cases I had no issue using either Panny lens and wouldn't hesitate to recommend Panny lenses in general.

So all that said, in summary I think if you have no opinion about brand, the Panny is probably the best buy considering the price and the benefits received from a lens with AF, auto aperture, and exif data.
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
5,029
Location
Oregon USA
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
Optical formulas make a big difference, as well as the overall quality of the coatings, etc. For example, I would say the Olympus and Panasonic models mentioned are of about equal sharpness, but there's a subtle quality about the Olympus lens's images that I don't find as much in the Panasonic's. You might find a manual only lens with comparable or even better rendering than the native ones, for example the Voigtländer 25/0.95, and that down to optical formula again mainly.
 

Lawrence A.

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Mar 14, 2012
Messages
1,729
Location
New Mexico
Real Name
Larry
Then there is always the great Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f1.4

I don't know about the others, but that lens and the Olympus are both wonderful pieces of glass. In the end I kept my Panasonic 20mm, which gives me a field of view I personally find more useful, and the Olympus 12-40 f2.8, which in my view is as good as most primes within its zoom range.

Of those in the list, I've only used the Olympus, which I can recommend without hesitation.
 

oldracer

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Oct 1, 2010
Messages
2,747
Location
USA
The first thing they teach you in quality training is that quality is not some abstract concept where some is good and more is better. Quality is conformance with requirements.

For this group, my guess is that very few images are printed in huge dimensions and in my experience, printing to 16x20 from almost any M43 lens will produce excellent results. Any lens is even more likely to be adequate quality for images that are viewed only on computer screens either directly or via some photo or social site.

The other place where standard M43 lens quality may be marginal is if you routinely crop really small pieces from your images. But in that case the lens can be considered poor quality because its focal length does not meet your requirements.

A manual focus lens may be adequate quality because you don't need the speed of autofocus.

I don't consider pixel peeping to be a photographic hobby, but if that is your thing you will start being critical of all lenses to one degree or another.

So don't worry about "quality" without considering what your real requirements are.
 

ralf-11

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Jan 16, 2017
Messages
1,716
More expensive lenses will usually be faster, and/or either

1. have more accurate performance esp. at the corners
or
2. have a special quality or look to them for certain subjects and conditions

for #2 you can see the raving of Leica photogs. over some of the really old lenses which often go for used for double the high prices of new Leica lenses; similar for Zeiss/Hasselblad and other brands

1 & 2 need not be either/or - the Olympus Bokeh master Pro line lenses (3 of them) are quite accurate but have very special qualities too, and one old Leica 35mm lenses is often described as 2 lenses in 1 - interesting but not accurate rendering at f1.4, then accurate and sharp at small f stops
 

bargainguy

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
167
Location
Milwaukee, WI
Real Name
Don
Each lens draws differently. For me, it's imperative to get out and test a lens - a lot - to determine what I like, what I don't like, and why. Only then do I know whether it's one I want to pass along or keep.

How about yet another suggestion in your price range - the Yongnuo 25/1.7 AF (20cm MFD):

https://www.ebay.com/itm/164876595637
 
Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Mu-43 is a fan site and not associated with Olympus, Panasonic, or other manufacturers mentioned on this site.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Forum GIFs powered by GIPHY: https://giphy.com/
Copyright © Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom