Minolta AF 50mm F2.8 Macro A-mount lens review by Phil Wood

reviewer#44301 date: May-19-2019
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.8
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 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony - AF DT 30 F2.8 Macro SAM
Minolta - AF 50 F2.8 Macro RS
Minolta - AF 50 F3.5 Macro
Sigma - 70 F2.8 EX DG Macro
Sigma - 90 F2.8 Macro
Minolta - AF 100 F2.8 Macro D

Minolta AF 50mm F1.4
Minolta - AF 50 F1.7
Sony - AF DT 50 F1.8 SAM
price paid:68 GBP
positive:Stunningly good: sharp, solid as a tank, 1:1 macro.
negative:No focus limiter, no focus hold button. No bayonet or clip on hood option.
comment:I really, really, like this lens, the only macro in my collection that I would rate more highly is the Minolta AF 100mm f2.8 Macro D - I just prefer the longer focal length and greater stand-off from the subject at 1:1. However, this 50mm is often better for handheld macro as camera shake is less of a problem.
It is as sharp as you will ever need a lens to be, extreme pixel peeping is required to distinguish it from the 100mm or the Minolta AF f3.5 Macro which are also superb.
It has the superb Minolta colours one expects from the company's 1980s glass and the incredibly solid metal/glass build of that era. With larger lenses this build quality can be seen as a negative owing to it weight, but the difference between this 1985 design (310g) and the updated 2006 Sony variant is only 15g - the 1993 RS update actually added 5g.
Distortion in unnoticeable and flare control is what you would expect from a good 1985 lens - not up to modern standards, but you can still get good contre-jour shots with a bit of care.
Of course this lens is intended for use close up, it's raison d'etre is macro, but it is also a very capable standard lens. It is in this role that it misses a decent hood option, I don't like screw in hoods!
Focusing speed is typical for Minolta's screw drive prime lenses, pretty good, but not great. Like many macros it extends a long way in macro - not perfect, but not a problem if you are used to it.
A focus limiter would make sense and was added in the RS update, shame it wasn't included originally. The RS update also added a focus hold button - not as important as the focus limiter but very nice to have these days when digital bodies allow one to assign the function of one's choice to it.
In comparison to my alternative macro lenses (see list above) it outshines (IMO) all but the 100mm D and, at current ebay prices, is a no-brainer bang for the buck purchase if you are looking for your first macro.
In comparison to my non-macro 50mm primes it is a 'horses for courses' decision - they are all good lenses. If you want detail pick the macro, if you want minimal DOF, bokeh or low light performance the Minolta AF 50mm f1.4 is the one to go for, if flare control or CA is an issue and you are happy sticking to APS-C the Sony DT 50mm f1.8 makes some sense. If budget is all important the Minolta AF 50mm f1.7 won't let you down.
Update: Having procured a Minolta - AF 50 F2.8 Macro RS I have another macro that I would rate more highly than this original version - purely for the additional flexibility offered by the focus limiter and preview buttons on the RS. The original is easier to find and, usually, a bit cheaper - and it's still a great lens.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 71
  • sharpness: 4.97
  • color: 4.87
  • build: 4.65
  • distortion: 4.96
  • flare control: 4.41
  • overall: 4.77
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