Minolta AF 24-50mm F4 A-mount lens review by Miranda F

reviewer#38881 date: Jun-14-2017
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 5
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta 24-105mm
Minolta 28 - xx
Minolta 35-70mm f4
Minolta 50mm f1.7
Sony 18-55mm
SOny dt primes
Lots of other Sony & Minolta lenses.
price paid:£49
positive:Compact
well made
constant aperture
sharp wide open
useful zoom range
good MFD
nice feel
negative:busy bokeh
prone to flare
comment:Not a particularly common or much talked-about lens, but worth a look nevertheless. It's very much from the same stable as the more common 35-70mm f4, with similar appearance. It is slightly larger, which is not a problem at all as it is still a compact lens, but it is nicer in a several ways; firstly the narrow focussing ring is not inset like some of the other similar lenses (50mm f1.7) and not quite such a pain to use if you have a lens hood. Secondly it focusses much closer which is a benefit. Lastly, it has a much more useful zoom range for general scenic work. It's really nice to have a decent 24, 28, 35, and 50mm lens available without having to carry a lot of primes (as I used to do before I came across zooms).
I haven't done a lot of testing on this lens, but speak from experience using it. It seems pretty sharp wide open, possibly sharper than the 24-105mm which is one of my favourite lenses, and it's quite happy being left at f4 most of the time.
I've read some comments about geometry but haven't noticed any issues myself. Like most old lenses it suffers badly from flare, so you will need a lens hood. There is no bayonet fitting, but a collapsible 55mm screw-on rubber hood works well. On APS-C you can leave this up all the time, but on FF/film you will need to collapse it below 35mm or so, being aware that you may get vignetting on film or digital that is not evident through the restricted view of the OVF. Even collapsed, though, the hood still gives you benefit at 24mm.
Downsides? There are a few.
The aperture is quite slow at f4 and on film I found myself wishing for an f2 or f1.7 prime more than once. Not such an issue on digital (A900).
This lens isn't a good lens for portraits, not long enough and with poor bokeh. The bokeh is very busy near MFD at all focal lengths, and through the OVF of my 600si it looks terrible, probably due to the ground-glass screen, though images taken with the A58 or A900 never show this and although backgrounds are often more busy than I'd like, I haven't had to reject any digital pics for bad bokeh.
The lens seems to me to be a very good choice for scenic and general use on film and FF digital, but I can't really recommend it for APS-C simply because the Sony 18-55mm dt SAM II lens is so much better in almost every respect except aperture, and has a usefully wider zoom range too. That's progress, I guess, but if you like older lenses this is still a good one.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 51
  • sharpness: 4.36
  • color: 4.84
  • build: 4.55
  • distortion: 4.39
  • flare control: 3.82
  • overall: 4.39
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