Minolta AF 50mm F1.7 A-mount lens review by HJ Kori

reviewer#11923 date: Jul-28-2014
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 3
overall: 4.5
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:Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 DiII
price paid:100 USD (used)
positive:1) Extremely sharp from f/2.8 onwards
2) Sturdily built
3) Smooth focus ring
4) Relatively fast auto focus for a screw-drive lens
negative:1) Slightly soft results when shooting close-ups wide open at f/1.7, but totally usable casual screen viewing or normal prints.
2) Though fast, the lens might hunt for focus, making it stutter when there isn't enough contrast on the subject. This happens typically when you're on Spot focusing mode.
3) Poor flare control causes images to look flashed-out/lack of contrast when shooting against light.
comment:When you're stepping up from a kit lens or looking for a standard fast lens that is versatile, then look no further than this legacy lens from Minolta. Both APC-C (cropped censor) and full-frame users will appreciate its sharpness and performance without overspending.

At wide open at f/1.7, together with a shutter speed of 1/50 and ISO 800, this lens can shoot in a dimly lit room by just a florescent lamp without underexposing. Though it comes with at a cost of softer images, especially when shooting close ups. However it can be easily ignored when you're only casually viewing the images or doing normal prints. It will even become less visible when you're focusing on an object from a distance.

Any range beyond f/2.8 to f/11 is amazingly sharp, it beats many lenses of its class from other brands at a much cheaper price. To illustrate this better, shooting at f/2.8 at 100 crop, I could even see the contact lens of my model and my own reflection on it with a 16MP image.

The lens feels solid when holding it and focus ring is smooth as butter when manual focus is needed; coupled with Focus Peeking feature in recent SLT cameras, this lens is almost perfect for most kinds of shooting.

Every so foten, I had to spend time tweaking the contrast of my images when I’m shooting this lens against a bright light source. The lens just couldn't handle flare control and it’s typical for a lens at its age.

However, as the nature of my work is mostly events and shooting fast-phased subjects, I find myself using the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 a lot more than this. One might wonder: how losing that extra stop of light would affect my work? Well, to be honest it doesn't affect much. All I need is just half a stop of higher ISO, and another half a stop of slower shutter speed to balance up the exposure; coupled with my Speedlight, I soon realise that I’m more worried about missing the shot and composition, than missing that one stop of light or bokeh (background blur)

Also worth noting is the Minolta 50mm f/1.7 prime here has an extra more reach if compared to the Tamron 17-50mm at 50mm. At 50mm, the images with my Tamron feels a bit wider, making it look closer to the view of a true 50mm on a full frame lens. Maybe that is what Tamron was trying to achieve.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 417
  • sharpness: 4.63
  • color: 4.78
  • build: 4.57
  • distortion: 4.74
  • flare control: 4.17
  • overall: 4.58
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