Minolta AF 50mm F3.5 Macro A-mount lens review by Phil Wood

reviewer#44284 date: May-8-2019
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.6
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
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:55 GBP
positive:Sharp, light, 1:2 macro.
negative:Only 1:2, f3.5, plastic build.
comment:This lens was produced as a low cost alternative to the 50mm f2.8 RS 1:1 macro - and Minolta made a very good job of it. This is a very capable macro lens, the smaller aperture is of little consequence and most macro shots don't need 1:2 - when it was released the cost saving on its more expensive stablemate made it an attractive choice. However, it has developed a reputation of near perfection, and now sells for as much or more than the f2.8 macros - which is insane. Yes its a very good lens, but the first f2.8 is as sharp, better built, has a wider aperture, and has 1:1 capability. The second generation RS has all of the above and a focus limiter, the Min D/Sony add ADI capability.

I have four Minolta 50mms and this is my least favourite, least used - not because it is a bad lens, just that the others do what they do better that it can do and there is nothing it can do that none of the others can. The f1.4 & f1.7 aren't as sharp wide open - but they open a lot wider, the f2.8 is as sharp, has 1:1 macro and simply feels so much better (I seriously like that lens).

Compared to my other macros:
The Sony DT 30mm is even more plasticky and it's 1:1 involves getting so close that it gets silly - the f3.5 wins.
The Sigma 70mm seems better built, but you always worry a little about what's inside a Sigma in terms of gear stripping, it too requires absurdly close work for full magnification - f3.5 wins.
The Sigma 90mm is very nice, a solid compact lens that is very reminiscent of the Min 50mm f2.8 somehow I don't worry about its innards. Like the f3.5 it is 1:2 only, but at a nice stand-off,the f3.5 just edges it on sharpness. I think I'll call it a draw.
The Min 100mm f2.8 D is the best macro lens I have experience of and a very fine short tele / portait lens. I love it, the f3.5 loses this one.

You can, of course, also use it as a 50mm prime, it just doesn't make much sense to do so if you have so many alternatives.

I really wanted to like this lens more than I do and it really is a very nice, very capable lens, but I just don't feel the love.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 61
  • sharpness: 4.93
  • color: 4.97
  • build: 4.62
  • distortion: 4.95
  • flare control: 4.70
  • overall: 4.84
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