Minolta AF 50mm F1.7 RS A-mount lens review by QuietOC

reviewer#18358 date: Sep-25-2015
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 3
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.3
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta/Sony AF 28 F2.8
Sony DT 50 F1.8 SAM
Minolta AF 50 F1.7
Minolta AF 50 F3.5 Macro
price paid:42 USD (used)
positive:Small and light
Very sharp wide-open in the center
Locking built-in hood
Metal focus gears
*Smooth operating rubber focus ring
Minimal CA stopped down
Minimal distortion
About 40% faster focus gearing
negative:Haziness/CA wide open
*Center softness
Bokeh can look busy
Short focus throw
Long minimal focus distance
49 mm filter size
comment:The first very clean copy was purchased on eBay but missing the front lens cap. I purchased a second poor looking copy with sticky focus but which is also very sharp wide-open. The frame and focusing mechanism are simplified and mostly plastic on the RS. "JAPAN"

This is a small lens. It even makes the Sigma 24 f/2.8 Super Wide II look big. The front element is very recessed so it probably could have been even smaller. As it is the focus ring is small and has very little throw, but it works okay on the first copy. I like the styling. It matches the 5-year later Minolta AF 28-105.

It certainly has depreciated less than most Minolta lenses. It was selling just above $50 when original released. The current Sony DT 50 1.8 SAM is $170. It certainly feels nicer to use than the Sony SAM primes. Then again it is definitely heavier than either DT prime despite the lack of a SAM motor.

Overall I am pleased with its performance especially after trying the similar looking but miserably performing Sony 28 f/2.8. It actually compares pretty favorably to the newer DT 35 f/1.8. It has less distortion and less chromatic aberration than that lens. The 35 f/1.8 is less prone to alias and looks sharper. which makes me wonder if Sony is running some moire reduction on RAW files for supported lenses. It is also longer than the 50 f/1.8. That lens is definitely sharper wide open. It definitely displays what some call focus shift with stopping down. The sharpest appearing focus wide-open is a bit off when stopped down.

I was surprised to find that the built-in hood actually locks in place on this lens meaning it actually offers some additional protection to the front element. I'd still prefer the larger reversible hood included with the later versions of the 50 f/1.4.

On Sony cameras it has two aperture settings both of which report as f/1.7. It goes 1.7, 1.7, 2, 2.2, 2.5, 2.8, etc. The iris definitely closes down some on the second 1.7 setting. The camera also selects different exposures on the two "1.7" aperture settings. The closed down "1.7" might actually be a 1.8 aperture setting. Contrary to Pirate's review below, the 7 aperture blades are basically straight and show as a polygon even at this first partial step down.

Frankly it is a bit mushy in the center until stopped down to f/2.8 and never really sharpens up very much. The center is about as sharp as it gets by f/2.8. Even the extreme corners are pretty good at f/2.8, but they continue to get sharper until f/5 and stay sharp beyond that. f/3.5 displays the most aliasing on the A58.

Manual focusing on the first copy was very smooth with just a little mechanical noise. Auto focusing is quite loud.

Overall very decent performance--definitely better overall image quality than the zooms at the same settings.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 103
  • sharpness: 4.53
  • color: 4.73
  • build: 4.23
  • distortion: 4.82
  • flare control: 4.19
  • overall: 4.50
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