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

reviewer#21419 date: Nov-12-2015
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 5
overall: 4.7
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:DT 35mm f1.8,
Nikon DX 35mm,
MD 50mm f1.7
price paid:£65
positive:Small, build quality, look of images, colours, sharpness, ease of use
negative:49mm filter thread, 55mm would be better, thin focus ring
comment:This is the lens that most often finds its way on to my a900.

Possibly bias review as it is the lens I have owned the longest, but when this lens is on my camera it feels like natural.

The Minolta 50mm is a tiny well built lens that most Sony people have in some form. Except for the centre it may not be tack sharp wide open (though that adds to centrally composed portraits), but stop it down between f2.8-5.6 and it delivers with saturated colours, low distortion, and nice contrast.

Having shot the lens in high contrast lighting, like sun on the sea, reflections and through leaves, I have found little CA to be worried about.

Its colours are classic, neutral and well matched to other early Minolta AF lenses.

Bokeh is smooth, pleasing and makes the 50mm a good option for indoor portraits.

Focus is usually spot on, but the focus ring is still a bit fiddly for manual focus. If the ring was wider I would MF more often.

Despite initial impressions the lens is very well built. I dropped mine attached to an a100 on to concrete and neither suffered any damage except for a small dent to the focus ring and a shattered UV filter. The lens is as sharp as ever and focuses smoothly.

Don't use a UV filter on this, you'll get green blobs everywhere when around point light sources. The front element is recessed enough for 'protection'. My lens is 30 years old with not a scratch to the front element.

The Sony DT 35mm is a good alternative on APSC, but with more purple fringing and modern coatings, the Nikon 35mm DX looks good but I couldn't get used to the focus ring that isn't really coupled to the body and the colours aren't as nice. The lens is very similar to the MD f1.7, just with one more aperture blade and the MD version has a nicer focus ring, being MF and all.

This makes a nice walk around lens on full frame, though some may want wider, and is fun for learning on APSC.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 421
  • sharpness: 4.62
  • color: 4.78
  • build: 4.57
  • distortion: 4.74
  • flare control: 4.17
  • overall: 4.58
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