Minolta 50s and the A7

Started Mar 30, 2014 | Discussions thread
ProfHankD Veteran Member • Posts: 5,220
The new fast 50s vs old ones

forpetessake wrote:

I've had a dozen of different old ~50mm lenses, including several Minoltas. They are cheap and widely available, so it doesn't take much to build a big collection. Some samples are here . I got rid of most of them, still have Minolta 50/1.7 and 45/2 -- they are too cheap to bother selling them, and keeping Canon FD 50/1.4 for sentimental value, and it's probably the best of any other old 50mm lens. Still, the Sony 50/1.8 was noticeably better than any of those.

While I don't own any of Sony's latest fast 50s, I think it is fair to say that the latest Sony/Zeiss fast 50s are exceptionally good lenses. Let's be precise: published results are way better overall than the current fast 50s from Canon and Nikon. Naturally, that makes them compete rather well with old fast 50s. And, as my own NEX-7 vs A7 tests have shown, APS-C does not necessarily do worse than FF.

Of the over two dozen fast 50s I have, none of the Minolta 50/1.7 (six versions), 45/2, and Canon FD 50/1.4 (two versions) are all that close to the top IQ overall. Different lenses are best at different things -- largely by design, to distinguish products -- and there is no one best lens unless you specify how the metrics get weighted. The one I usually cite as best overall from my fast 50s is an M42 Mamiya/Sekor 55mm f/1.4, which really isn't best by any single metric, but is in the top few by all metrics.  The latest Zeiss fast 50s seem to have similar all-round near-top performance with particularly impressive MTF50 scores.

Here's my point: different lenses do specific things better. For example, my SMC Takumar 50mm f/1.4 probably has the best bokeh of my fast 50s, but it isn't near the top in much else. The APS-C, APS-C + focal reducer, and full frame IQ also differs for various lenses, and there are quite a few rank reversals when one changes format; for example, the Canon FD 50/1.8 lenses are near the bottom of the pack on APS-C, but above average on a focal reducer.

Overall, if you've got the budget and want only one fast 50 for all uses, get one of the latest Sony/Zeiss and be happy. However, even with a far lower budget, you can get a collection of fast 50s that have a spread of attributes that can do more than any one fast 50. It's a personal choice.

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