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

reviewer#18358 date: Sep-25-2015
sharpness: 3.5
color: 4
build: 3
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 3.9
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 40 F1.7
Konica AR 40 F1.8
Canon EF 40 F2.8 STM
Pentax-M 40 F2.8
Pentax-DA 40 F2.8 XS
Pentax-FA 43 F1.8 Limited
Rokinon AF 45 F1.8
Tamron SP 45 F1.8 USD (VC & non VC)
Minolta MD 45 F2
Sigma 45 F2.8 DG DN C
Rokinon 50 F1.2
Yongnuo 50 F1.4
Zeiss C/Y 50 F1.4 Planar
Canon EF 50 F1.4 USM
Sigma 50 F1.4 EX DG HSM
Minolta MD 50 F1.4 & AF & Sony
Meike 50 F1.7
Minolta MD 50 F1.7 & AF
Sony FE 50 F1.8
Canon EF 50 F1.8 STM
Fotasy 50 F1.8
Konica AR 50 F1.8
Vivitar 50 F1.8
Sony DT 50 F1.8 SAM
Sony E 50 F1.8 OSS
Minolta MD 50 F2
Neewer/Meike/Vivitar 50 F2
Konica AR 52 F1.8
Minolta MC 55 F1.7
Sony FE 55 F1.8 Sonnar
Minolta SR 55 F2
Minolta MC 58 F1.4
price paid:42 USD (used)
positive:Small and light
Locking built-in hood
Metal focus gears
Rubber focus ring
Minimal CA stopped down
Minimal distortion
About 40% faster focus gearing
Bokeh can look busy
Short focus throw
Long minimal focus distance
49 mm filter size
comment:The first very clean copy was purchased on eBay but missing the front lens cap. I purchased a second poor looking copy with sticky focus but which is sharper wide-open. I purchased a third copy that was also not as sharp. The frame and focusing mechanism are simplified and mostly plastic on the RS. "JAPAN"

This is a small lens. It even makes the Sigma 24 f/2.8 Super Wide II look big. The front element is very recessed so it probably could have been even smaller. As it is the focus ring is small and has very little throw. Two of the copies have a lot of binding in the focus mechanism. The style matches the later lenses.

It certainly has depreciated less than most Minolta lenses. It was selling just above $50 when original released. The current Sony DT 50 1.8 SAM is $170. It certainly feels nicer to use than the Sony SAM primes. Then again it is definitely heavier than either DT prime despite the lack of a SAM motor.

Overall I am pleased with its performance especially after trying the similar looking but miserably performing Sony 28 f/2.8. It actually compares pretty favorably to the newer DT 35 f/1.8. It has less distortion and less chromatic aberration than that lens. The 35 f/1.8 is less prone to alias and looks sharper. which makes me wonder if Sony is running some moire reduction on RAW files for supported lenses. It is also longer than the 50 f/1.8. That lens is definitely sharper wide open. It definitely displays what some call focus shift with stopping down. The sharpest appearing focus wide-open is a bit off when stopped down.

I was surprised to find that the built-in hood actually locks in place on this lens meaning it actually offers some additional protection to the front element. I'd still prefer the larger reversible hood included with the later versions of the 50 f/1.4.

On Sony cameras it has two aperture settings both of which report as f/1.7. It goes 1.7, 1.7, 2, 2.2, 2.5, 2.8, etc. The iris definitely closes down some on the second 1.7 setting. The camera also selects different exposures on the two "1.7" aperture settings. The closed down "1.7" might actually be a 1.8 aperture setting. Contrary to Pirate's review below, the 7 aperture blades are basically straight and show as a polygon even at this first partial step down.

Frankly it is a bit mushy in the center until stopped down to f/2.8 and never really sharpens up very much. The center is about as sharp as it gets by f/2.8. Even the extreme corners are pretty good at f/2.8, but they continue to get sharper until f/5 and stay sharp beyond that. This lens really benefit from stopped down focusing. The manual aperture on earlier MD version is a big advantage.

Manual focusing on the first copy was smooth with just a little mechanical noise. Auto focusing is quite loud.

The Sony FE 50 F1.8 has similar faults but has overall better optical performance with much less variation and it can focus stopped down.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 104
  • sharpness: 4.52
  • color: 4.72
  • build: 4.24
  • distortion: 4.82
  • flare control: 4.19
  • overall: 4.50
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