Neewer 35mm f/1.7 (same as Meike?)

cjoliprsf

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I have been looking for a manual lens since a little while for mainly 2 reasons: 1, for the fun doing it manually like in good old days, and 2, for doing macro.
The advantage of going manual for macro is I can use really inexpensive dummy extension tubes and still have some control of focus and aperture. With an automatic lens, if using such tubes it will be stuck at fully open aperture with (at least for most) no focus control. Necessary then to use more expensive tubes that relay the electrical signals from camera to lens...
As focal length, I thought 35mm was ideal, but could work with something between 25mm and 45mm.
There are quite a number of chinese manual lenses for this focal - going from the most to the least expensive:
7Artisans f/1.2
Meike/Neewer f/1.4
Meike/Neewer f/1.7 - the one I finally bought
A number of all similar Cheecar/Pergear/Fujian f/1.6

Both the Meike and Neewer 35mm-1.7 have identical specs: weight 176 grams, 60.5mm diameter, 35.5mm high, 49mm filter thread. Optical design is 6 elements in 5 groups. Exterior appearance is identical. On Amazon Canada, the Meike is at a substantially lower price (103 CAD for the Meike, 80 CAD for the Neewer).

Lens arrives beginning of the month, looks and feels really good on my GX85:

200723_0157_1600.jpg
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And this is the Meike, picture taken from Amazon - definitely identical but for the brand name...

Meike 35mm-1.7.jpg
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First impression is good, lens feels solid and well built, focus ring is smooth with just enough restriction. The aperture ring is not as good however, clickless, and as can be seen from the pictures, goes from f4 to f22 real fast, no indication for f11 or f16, while there is a lot of space between f1.7 and f2 and f2.8 - this is a bit odd, but not a big deal. The lens mounts well on the body, no play.

As I turn the GX85 on, I get asked on the screen to give the right focal length for IBIS. Focusing works well, and is easy to do with the peaking and the enlargment functions. With the selector on "P", I can adjust the aperture where I want and the camera selects appropriate speed - all works fine. EXIF reports "NO-LENS" with focal lenght 0, and aperture 0.


Now the bad...
Optical quality was inacceptable! While the center and top part of the image was OK, the bottom showed sort of a ghost image slightly offsetted, the effect being worse near the corners.
Easily seen here, showing the bottom right corner from a shot of my (old) cassette deck recorder. It is different from just soft or blurred - there are really 2 images with a slight offset between them.

BottomRightCorner.jpg
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And what is strange is the effect is not on all corners. So my conclusion was that copy of the lens had a defect, possibly some misalignment of a lens element, so I returned it and got another copy.

The second copy is not quite as bad... but not good either. In fact on that one, the image is quite good on the center and right side and shows some ghosting on the left side, but not quite as much as the first copy.
Here is the lower left corner (the worse) from the second copy. Notice as we read "cassette deck TC-72" the ghosting goes away as we get closer to the center:

LowerLeftCorner(F1,7).jpg
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Naturally, this ghosting gets better as the lens is stopped down, but I really have to get to F8 to remove it completely.


Now back to the question
Is Meike really identical to Neewer? Since I got 2 out of 2 copies of the Neewer lens that are optically defective and should have been culled if any sort of quality control existed in the factory, I came to ask myself: since I have never heard of such problem with Meike lenses and most people say they are sharp, maybe they sell the good as Meike at higher price, and instead of culling the bad, they sell them at lower cost under the Neewer brand - does this make sense???


Macro performance
I don't yet have my extension tubes, but I have a reversal ring and 2 macro lenses that screw on the filter thread.
With a 4 diopter macro lens I can reach 1:3.7
With my stronger macro lens (the diopter strength is not indicated) I can have from 1:2 to 1:1.7 (with focus adjustment)
With the reversal ring, I also reach 1:1.7 however, interestingly, with the reversal ring the focus has no effect.

Here is a macro photo of a measuring tape, taken with the stronger macro lens at minimum focus distance. The width of view is 30mm, which divided by the sensor width of 18mm, gives the ratio 1:1.7

N35_WAMin_1600.jpg
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Interestingly this is pretty sharp and doesn't show anymore the ghosting that was apparent in the picture of the tape deck! There is only some slight CA that could easily be corrected.
With the reversal ring, although I get the same macro ratio, the center is sharp but the edges are quite blurred. It appears the focus plane is not flat but curved - if I make the focus on the edges, then it is the center that is out of focus...


Real life photos
Well, it is not so bad! in real life photos, the corner ghosting goes unnoticed and the result is rather pleasing

200723_0447_1600.jpg
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And a macro photo of a spirea cluster taken with the reversing ring:

Spirée 200723_0444_1600.jpg
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Dilemna - what should I do?
Should I keep this second copy or return it?
If I return it, what should I buy? Another Neewer is out of question...
Are there any chances the Meike could be better?
Another lens I could try is the 7Artisans 25mm f/1.8, currently at 89 CAD on Amazon - most reviews I have seen about 7Artisans were rather good.

Thanks for reading this very long post down to the bottom!
 

Mike Wingate

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Your purchases show a poor lens, acceptable in some circumstances, not in others.
Send it back, you are not satisfied with the results. You have been brave and experienced the qualities and performance of a cheaper lens. You were not happy with the aperture ring.
Spend a bit more, buy a P25 or even better the P42.5. Quality lenses that work well, efficient operation and work in tandem with the camera.
 

cjoliprsf

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Spend a bit more, buy a P25 or even better the P42.5. Quality lenses that work well, efficient operation and work in tandem with the camera.

Yes, the P42.5 definitely is on my wish list. However what I really want now is a fully manual lens...
 

cjoliprsf

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A few more shots taken with the Neewer 35mm, using my GM5 as a model.

Lens at minimum focus distance, stopped down to f5.6 and uncropped. There is clearly no issue here, if looking at it 100%, I can see all dust particles very sharply...

200724_0450.jpg
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With the +4 close-up lens, focus on the red dot

N35_4 200722_0424_mr.jpg
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And with the stronger close-up lens

N35_WA 200722_0426_mr.jpg
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The more I use it, the more I am tempted to keep it. For the intended use, the ghosting on the corners is not really an issue. If I need corner-to-corner sharpness, I have other lenses that I can use...
 

PakkyT

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I too vote for returning it. Even though it is a super cheap lens, if you know it has problems you are going to always not really trust it and will opt to not use it. So while the cost might have been less than a dinner out, there is no point throwing a way a perfectly good dinner on something you won't enjoy and likely will not use.

For the same price you can probably find an old film 35mm lens that surely will be better optically even if it is an 3rds party brand. You may not get as open of an aperture but if you are shooting macros, I assume you are closing down anyway?
 

cjoliprsf

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A few more shots taken today in the garden with the Neewer 35mm on GX85. Most taken with a close-up lens except for the last (the cubumber) which was without.

Again, I like what I see...

200724_0451.jpg
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200724_0463.jpg
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200724_0464.jpg
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200724_0465.jpg
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200724_0466.jpg
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I agree with PakkyT, a vintage lens would be a better bet. I don't know what prices are like in Canada but I bought an Oly FZuiko 38mm F/1.8 for £50. This was the kit lens for the original PenF so there are lots around. Excellent build quality as you would expect, much sharper than the Meike wide open.
 
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cjoliprsf

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I bought an Oly FZuiko 38mm F/1.8 for £50. This was the kit lens for the original PenF so there are lots around. Excellent build quality as you would expect, much sharper than the Meike wide open.

Nice idea. To be frank, I wasn't aware some of those 1/2 frame Pen had interchangeable lens - I thought they all were fixed lens, and I now see there is a whole collection of nice small lenses that were made for them.
Apparently however these lenses (or some of them) would be radioactive! Incredible to see how the world changed since those days. Who would even think of making a radioactive lens nowadays?

Anyway, this makes something to look at in the local ads - maybe find a nice Pen F or FT for peanuts... At this moment, eBay sellers are asking much too high prices.
 
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Hmm, I knew some old lenses had lanthium or something in the glass but never heard that about F Zuikos...
 

cjoliprsf

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Hmm, I knew some old lenses had lanthium or something in the glass but never heard that about F Zuikos...

Apparently it is thorium 232:
However, beware, the lens is radioactive. I never had the opportunity to measure radioactivity but it is well documented as the rear element contains thorium 232.

from https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3989809
Now, as we all know very well, "I know it is true because I saw it on the Internet"!
In any case, it is an interesting read, for whatever it is worth...
 

WT21

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These kinds of lenses are "Character" lenses, and I've had a few in the past, and regretted selling on in particular (a fujian 35/1.7 CCTV lens, with beautiful, swirly bokeh, but a very loose focus ring). If you are looking for a sharp lens but that has MF, could I suggest an m42 mount Super Takumar 50/1.4? At 1.4, it's soft, but 2.0, it's quite sharp. Has some great bokeh when 2.8 or wider, gets more angular stopped down, and is overall a joy to use, though most copies have a yellow tint (which is great for fall leaf shooting).
 

cjoliprsf

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could I suggest an m42 mount Super Takumar 50/1.4? At 1.4, it's soft, but 2.0, it's quite sharp.

I just missed for 25 CAD on the local ads a Fujica thad had a Fujinon 50mm 1.4 on, also M42. Probably would have been relatively similar to this Super Takumar... I keep my eyes open and will eventually find something interesting.
By the way, are there booster adaptors for manual M42 lenses? With such an adaptor, a 50mm-1.4 would become a 35mm-1.0 or something like this...

For the time being I keep on playing with the Neewer 35, and having fun with it even if it is a somewhat crappy lens!
 

WT21

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I just missed for 25 CAD on the local ads a Fujica thad had a Fujinon 50mm 1.4 on, also M42. Probably would have been relatively similar to this Super Takumar... I keep my eyes open and will eventually find something interesting.
By the way, are there booster adaptors for manual M42 lenses? With such an adaptor, a 50mm-1.4 would become a 35mm-1.0 or something like this...

For the time being I keep on playing with the Neewer 35, and having fun with it even if it is a somewhat crappy lens!
Yes. Here's one example. There are likely others, too.
 

tkbslc

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7Artisans 35mm f1.2 is quite good. Especially stopped down a little bit.

However, if your main goal is to have a 35mm macro lens, Olympus makes a pretty nice one that is quite affordable.
 

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