Minolta AF 50mm F1.7 A-mount lens review by Miranda F

reviewer#30694 date: Oct-1-2016
sharpness: 4
color: 3
build: 3
distortion: 3
flare control: 3
overall: 3.2
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 used to own this lens
compared to: Minolta 50mm f1.7 RS
Minolta 35-70 f4
Minolta 28-80 f3.5-5.6
Minolta 28-85mm f3.5-4.5
Minolta 28-100mm f3.5-5.6
Sony 35mm f1.8
Sony 50mm f1.8
Sony 18-55mm f3.5-5.6
Sony 18-135mm (tried, not owned)
Sony 55-200mm f4-5.6
Sony 55-300mm f4.5-5.6
Soligor 60-300mm f4-5.6
Tamron 90mm f2.8
Sigma 28-200mm
Tamron 28-200mm aspheric
Various other wide angle and tele lenses plus MF primes & zooms.
price paid:£50
positive:It's a prime, it has a wide aperture, and it's cheap
Good Bokeh, especially on APS-C
negative:colours, build, distortion, flare, CA/PF.
comment:There are plenty of other reviews of this lens, so if you don't like or agree with mine, just ignore it and read the others! See also my review of the RS version which is (I assume) optically similar, but this was a lens I wanted to like, but couldn't. Here's just a few reasons why I didn't:
I didn't feel the lens was especially sharp, and it was pretty bad at close-ups. I've been doing closeups with MF 50mm lenses for decades and have always had them sharp, but results with either of the two Minolta 50mm f1.7 AF lenses were always disappointing, on APS-C certainly.
On film it was okay, but today I mostly take views with film, which are less challenging.
CA and PF may perhaps be no worse than older MF lenses I'm used to, but they aren't up to modern standards either.
Flare control is predictably bad, and although if I'd been reviewing this when the lens first came out it would have got a good rating, today its performance is not good in comparison to even cheap modern lenses now available.
Now I know Minolta's early lenses consistantly get good marks for build, but I have marked this one down because the focus ring is difficult to operate without a proper lens hood (the built-in one is ineffective and useless anyway because it is difficult to pull out and doesn't stay out) and impossible to MF with one fitted, and that's just not acceptable to me. I expect to be able to use MF when necessary, with a hood, and it often is. Paradoxically the RS version has a much wider and nicer rubber focus ring which is easier to turn, but they raised the AF gearing on it too so it becomes much more difficult to get accurate MF. The RS version also has the ability to lock the hood open, though it is still difficult to get it out in the first place unless you focus it closely first.
Many people are very enthusiastic about Minolta colours but I really didn't like the colours on this lens; they made evening pictures look so unreal I had to change them in PP. In hindsight I realise I could have done more to correct this with WB and saturation before taking the picture, but whereas the colours with my 18-55mm dt lens (and others) were almost always wonderful without any fiddling, they weren't with this lens.
You may think I just don't like Minolta glass but that's not true. I like the 24-105 and the 28-100, and I think the 35-70 F4 is excellent.
So although I'm not suggesting this lens was or is a waste of money, neither did I feel like keeping it. I traded it in for the Sony equivalent which I like a great deal more.

Edit: To be fair I should have commented that the bokeh is very good, with lovely smooth circles on distant lights in night shots. This is especially true on APS-C, since the much larger image circle of the FF lens doesn't squeeze/crop the circles near the edge of the frame as APS-C lenses do. Thus the Minolta gives much nicer circles than the Sony 50mm f1.8, which (like most APS-C lenses, and some FF too) crushes these into lemon shapes near the edge unless you deliberately shoot wide and crop.

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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