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

reviewer#44187 date: Dec-11-2018
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
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:Minolta AF 50mm F1.4
Minolta AF 50mm F1.7 RS
Sony AF DT 50 F1.8 SAM
Minolta AF 50 F2.8 Macro
Minolta AF 50 F2.8 Macro RS
Minolta AF 50 F3.5 Macro
price paid:30 GBP
positive:Build quality, size, price, wide aperture, focal length on FF.
negative:My copy has back focus, only f1.7. Focusing ring is too small and fiddly for easy manual use. Hood.
comment:When I bought this lens I was disappointed, it wasn't much sharper than the kit zoom (18-70). Since acquiring cameras with microfocus adjust I have discovered the problem to be a back focus issue. With adjustments the lens is impressively sharp once stopped down a couple of stops.

Wide open the centre is sharp - which is what you need in most cases, corner sharpness doesn't matter if your aim is to blur the background.

In comparison with the two macro 50mms it's advantages are price, size, the wider aperture and marginally better focusing. The macros are significantly sharper, focus closer (much closer) and have better contrast - and they aren't much more expensive. If the wide aperture is of interest (and it should be) then there are the Minolta f1.4 and its Sony reincarnation (which I don't have experience of) and the Sony f1.8 DT. This latter lens is APS-C only and only out performs the f1.7 in terms of flare control - but the 1.7 is not bad in this respect, I honestly don't see a good reason to buy the Sony in preference to a well-adjusted copy of the 1.7 (unlike mine). To be honest the Sony is the least successful A-mount prime I've experienced - partly because of the comparison with the cheaper, better built, better performing 1.7.

The other issue is that 50mm is not the most useful prime on an APS-C body, I'd opt first for the excellent 35mm f1.8 DT, which offers the equivalent 'standard' lens angle of view on APS-C. The 1.7 works as a good short portrait lens, but the other great low cost Sony prime, the 85mm f2.8, is even better (and works as a short portrait on full frame). However, f1.7s are available for under 50GBP and you won't get a much better lens for that sort of cash.

If you own a full frame A-mount body you probably already have one of these lenses or an f1.4, if you haven't then you may well not own a prime of any length. I recommend you get one ASAP! The discipline of shooting with primes is well worth experiencing (and you can join Dyxum’s Week 50 Challenge).

UPDATE I have recently completed the week 50 challenge. I set out with the intention of sharing the week between all my 50mms - but the two that spent most time on my A900 were the f2.8 macro (I love that lens) and the f1.7. I have to say that I like it a lot more than I did at the start of the week, it really is a very good lens.

UPDATE 2: I have acquired an original version Minolta 50mm f1.4 and have to say that overall I prefer the f1.7. The f1.4 vignettes quite badly wide open on FF - which I find very off-putting. The f1.4 may be the better APS portrait lens and my copy does focus well on my A58 (unlike my f1.7) but I'll stick with the f1.7 on my A900 unless I really really need the narrower DOF. The hood on both lenses is the same - fiddly and useless - if only there was a way to retrofit a hood bayonet mount on them!

UPDATE 3: The f1.4 has grown on me, the vignetting seems less important, the wide aperture more important. Sadly the f1.7 spends more time on the shelf.

UPDATE 4: I acquired an RS version of this lens, for two reasons I use the RS far more - it does not require microfocus adjustment (luck of the draw) and the built-in hood locks out, making it much more useful.

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
Dyxum.com - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania