Meike has announced a new 85mm f/1.4 lens at NAB 2023 this week. This in itself is not really big news. Neither is the fact that it’s a full-frame lens nor that it’s an autofocus lens. What is big news, though, is that they’re saying it’ll be available in a Canon RF Mount. Yes, that’s right, an autofocus lens with a Canon RF mount (as well as E, Z and L mounts). Is this the first 3rd party autofocus RF lens to be approved by Canon itself?
Canon has a bit of history when it comes to 3rd party AF lenses. They’ve shut down a number of manufacturers including Samyang and Viltrox, and after the Viltrox news broke, Canon confirmed it. In a recent interview with DPReview, Canon did suggest they’d be open to third-party lenses using the RF mount, but has that happened here? Is this small Chinese lens company beating the likes of Sigma and Tamron to the punch?
Meike 85mm f/1.4 AF – Canon-approved?
The specs for the lens have been partially released so far and they’re further down the page. But no pricing or availability has been announced for the new lens yet. What I find curious is that this lens has been released to absolutely zero fanfare by Canon. Sure, it’s not that surprising that Canon isn’t shouting out a competitor’s lens, but if this has been authorised by them, you’d think Canon would be jumping on the good PR of allowing a third party to release an RF mount lens.
Neither Canon nor Meike has actually confirmed that this has been approved by Canon. However, given the very public history over the last couple of years with autofocus RF mount lenses, I find it difficult to imagine that Meike would publicly announce this lens at an event like NAB 2023 unless they felt confident that it would actually come to market. And Canon has suggested that they’re open to third party manufacturers. When DPReview asked them about how they plan to appeal to users who want a wider selection of RF mount lenses, they said this…
Whenever a third party presents a request to us, we’ll consider it, based on our business strategy. In fact, we have been communicating with some outside companies, and you may already be aware that here at CP+, Cosina has announced that they will be creating RF lenses of their own.
Given that Canon specifically mentioned Cosina in their chat with DPReview – even though that will be a manual focus lens – perhaps it is a little unusual that they didn’t mention Meike’s AF RF lens announcement. What Canon didn’t clarify, though, was the circumstances in which they’d allow a third party to make RF mount lenses. Many have assumed they’ll take a similar stance to Nikon, who appears to be approving lenses that don’t compete with their own lens lineup.
But, 85mm f/1.4 is a pretty popular lens that I’m sure Canon is probably planning to make available on their own at some point. Sure, Canon’s got the 85mm f/1.2, but how many people are going to go to that expense over the typical price of an 85mm f/1.4 for the sake of an extra half a stop of light? Canon’s RF 85mm f/1.2 retails for $2,799. Canon’s old EF 85mm f/1.4 retails for $1,599. That’s a significant difference.
But if Canon is planning to make their own 85mm f/1.4 at some point, why would they allow Meike to make one? Did they even allow it at all? Or has Meike just made an announcement, challenging Canon’s lawyers in a “come at me, bro!” kind of way? – Side note: This may be the approach they’re taking with Nikon, too, as they say it’ll also become available in Z mount.
Samyang/Rokinon released a number of autofocus RF mount lenses a while ago that some customers were able to acquire before they were mysteriously pulled from Samyang’s catalogue. Samyang hasn’t produced or announced any more RF lenses since. Last year, Viltrox told its customers that Canon had ordered them to stop selling their newly announced RF mount lenses. Canon Germany later confirmed Viltrox’s claims, stating that, yes, they did indeed shut them down.
So, what will the fate of Meike’s 85mm f/1.4 be? At this point, who knows? Personally, even if pre-orders open up at some point, personally, I’d be holding off until the lenses actually start shipping because there’s probably a good chance the lens may never actually come to market.
What about Z mount?
Speaking of Nikon, Meike also claims the lens will be coming in Nikon Z mount. While there are a number of third-party Nikon Z mount lenses out there – most notably Sigma’s recent APS-C trio – Nikon has basically said they’re only going to approve lenses that don’t compete with their own. Like Canon, Nikon, too, doesn’t have an 85mm f/1.4 in their full-frame mirrorless mount flavour. They do have their own 85mm f/1.2 (which is even more expensive than Canon’s) and an 85mm f/1.8, but no f/1.4.
As with Canon, I can’t see Nikon not producing their own 85mm f/1.4 lens for Z mount at some point. It’s entirely possible that both Canon and Nikon are happy with their 85mm f/1.2 and 85mm f/1.8 offerings and are pleased to let a third party fill in the f/1.4 gap in the middle. But… Meike? You’d think they’d be looking at higher profile companies – especially ones like Sigma that already have Z mount lenses – rather than a pretty small and relatively unknown lens manufacturer.
Meike 85mm f/1.4 Specs
|Angle of view||Unspecified|
|Min focus distance||98cm|
|Optics||13 elements in 8 groups|
Pricing and Availability
So far, Meike has not yet released prices or availability for the new 85mm f/1.4 lens. I expect that for RF and Z mounts, it’s possible they never will. The lens will be announced at some point, though, as it’s also supposed to be available for Leica L and Sony E mounts. I can’t recall any autofocus L mount lenses from outside the Alliance – Tokina and Tamron don’t make any – but I think the E mount version may actually show up one day.
Do you think this lens will actually hit the market?