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

reviewer#36827 date: Apr-12-2017
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 3
overall: 4
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 AF 50/1.4, Canon EF 50/1.8, Nikon AF 50/1.8, various Minolta MC and MD 50/1.7 (this lens is optically the same as the last type Minolta MD 50/1.7) Chinon 50/1.7 M42 (a very good and often under-rated lens), various Zuiko 50/1.8 (these vary a lot but on average are a little better than a typical Minolta 1.7), Zuiko 50/1.4 (avoid early lenses with chrome-rimmed fronts), various Takumar 50/1.4 and 55/2 and 1.8, Yashica standard lenses etc etc
price paid:I cannot remember.
positive:Good central sharpness at all apertures which extends outwards to most of the APS-C frame area, but not its corners. Good general control of aberrations. Images have a nice Minolta look to them. Lens is quite well-made compared with eg the Canon EF MkII or budget Sony lenses and is noticeably nicer and easier to focus manually than those two lenses.
negative:Relatively poor corner sharpness (and I am talking about APS-C here; it isn't going to be any better on full frame!). Stopping down to at least F8 helps. Corners are never quite as good as the better lenses or indeed, to be brutally honest, as good as most 50mm's; this is the main drawback of this lens. Flare control, while better than Minolta zooms, is somewhat inferior to that of most good primes and much of the 50mm competition.
comment:Inferior corner sharpness to most other 50's, yes, but it's not really bad enough to be problematic for most users under normal photographic use with most 3D subjects. Sharpness away from the corners is good overall, not very far behind the Canon and Nikon 1.8 lenses or the best 1.8 Zuikos, and not by any means poor wide open. This lens gives less spherical aberration wide open than the Canon 50/1.8 although the Canon has better corners and sharpens more quickly as you stop down.

In my view the Minolta look and build quality make it preferable to the Sony 50/1.8 lens which feels a lot less pleasant in the hand and doesn't have the Minolta look or bokeh quality, let alone build quality.

The Minolta 50/1.4 which I also own is slightly but clearly/demonstrably sharper at every normal shooting aperture, and more than slightly sharper in the corners. I have a suspicion that the 1.4 has more problems with bokeh fringing than this lens, though.

I get a strange aperture scale anomaly with this lens on my A37; there are two clicks that both give the read-out F1.7.

From what I've read recently about the MD 50/2 (which I never owned), it seems surprising that Minolta didn't make that lens their standard AF 50mm offering, as I've seen it suggested that it is a lot better at wide apertures than their 50/1.7 lenses. No matter, though, this lens still has plenty to offer.

Be careful, if buying, to ensure you don't end up with a lens with oily diaphragm blades which will eventually stick open, or a lens which has been left unused in a too warm climate whose blades may have already jammed open. Other than this, I'm not aware of much that can go wrong.

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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