Minolta AF 50mm F1.4 A-mount lens review by Phil Wood
|Phil Wood#44211 date: Jan-21-2019|
flare control: 4
|ownership:||I own this lens|
|compared to:||Minolta - AF 50 F1.7|
Sony - AF DT 50 F1.8 SAM
Minolta - AF 50 F2.8 Macro
Minolta - AF 50 F3.5 Macro
|price paid:||80 GBP|
|positive:||Sharp, fast, Minolta colours|
|negative:||Significant vignetting wide open, awkward and pathetic lens hood, focus ring too narrow.|
|comment:||This is a very good lens, but very noticeable vignetting lets it down wide open - even though it is easy enough to correct in LR. There are definitely situations where I prefer the f1.7 - but probably not enough to buy both unless you are a collector. The f1.4's biggest advantage is that extra half stop and the thin DOF it provides. In situations where the corners don't matter much - portraiture for example, the faster lens wins. So far I have only used it on FF, I suspect I will like it more on APS-C where the vignetting should not be an issue.|
Build quality is excellent - 20+ years old and still going strong. Colours are great if you like Minolta colours (I do). Distortion is not really noticeable on FF apart from the aforementioned vignetting (which is a real let down). Flare is an issue with all older lenses, but it's not a big issue, the f1.4 was a premium lens in its day and it shows. The hardest rating to mark is sharpness - because I find it difficult to decided where to draw the line between 4.5 and 5 - the 50mm macros are sharper, does this mean the f1.4 should be 4.5? But I see plenty of 5s for zooms that I know aren't as good - so I gave it 5.
Comparing it with my other AF 50mms:
f1.7 - given that the two are almost indistinguishable it is funny that the f1.7 feels better - probably just me. On the positive side my f1.4 focus is spot on, my f1.7 needs microfocus adjustment - the f1.4 will see a lot more use on my A58!
f2.8 - the f1.4 isn't as sharp but is faster and lighter and sharp enough, however, the f2.8 has 1:1 macro and remains my favourite 50mm.
f3.5 - the f3.5 is a bit toylike compared to my other Minolta 50mms - sharper than the f1.4, bigger but much the same weight. I prefer the old metal lenses but, like with the f2.8 the real choice is between macro (1:2 in this case) and the considerably wider aperture of the f1.4.
Sony f1.8 - I can't see any advantage of the Sony APS-C lens apart from a decent lens hood, weight (only 70g) and perhaps price, though I'd gladly pay more for the extra build quality, wider aperture and FF capability of the f1.4. I suppose I might opt for the Sony if I was planning some contre-jour portraiture where the hood and modern coatings should be an advantage (I'll update this review after try the f1.4 on APS-C).
Bottom line, if I had to give up all but one of my 50mms I'd keep the f2.8, but I'm hanging on to the f1.4 and looking forward to trying it out on APS-C.
Having spent some time with the lens on an APS-C body (A58) I can confirm that, as expected, vignetting is not an issue. It also has a great advantage over my f1.7 in that it focuses accurately without the need for micro-adjustment. All of which makes it a pretty good portrait option on APS-C, a good wide aperture short tele. That said it is not a focal length I like too much on the smaller sensor - I prefer a longer lens for portraiture if space allows.