Minolta 50mm f/1.4
Minolta Maxxum 50mm f/1.4 (first cosmetic version, 49mm filter thread, 8.0 oz./228 g, about $225 used if you know How to Win at eBay). enlarge. My biggest source of support is when you use this link directly to them at eBay, or use any of these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Please always use these links when getting any of your gear so I can continue to share what I know for free — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you buy elsewhere. Thank you for your support! Ken.
Sample Image Files
Used on today's Sony A99 it has image stabilization and very fast autofocus.
This Minolta 50mm f/1.4 works perfectly on today's Sony A99, except that the AF-D Depth Map AF (whatever that is) and the automatic lens corrections don't work. So what, the images look fantastic and everything else works, like face recognition and all the focus modes including Direct Manual Focus (DMF) override, so all is well.
It's all plastic on the outside, and metal on the inside. It even has a built-in telescoping hood!
This is a full-frame lens for 35mm film and full-frame digital, and will be reviewed thusly. Feel free to use this on cropped-frame cameras, too, on which it will give even closer-cropped results.
1985-1990 (shown in this review)
The original version shown here has a hard ribbed plastic manual focus ring.
"AF" is marked in red on the front barrel.
Feet are marked in yellow on the focus scale.
Minolta changed the focus ring to rubber and cheapened the distance scale to show both feet and meters in white, not yellow for feet and white for meters as it should be.
Minolta also saved themselves another paint step by painting the "AF" on the front identity ring in the same color, white, as the rest of the letters. The first version painted the AF in red. The newer version also removes the infra-red focus index.
It has exactly the same optics as the 1985 version tested here, and the same product number: 25621.
Casual amateurs gave this a street name of "RS," or "restyled."
Sony bought Minolta and sells it as the Sony 50mm f/1.4. I don't like it; they took away the hood and it feels much sloppier than the 1985-1990 version I show here.
Minolta AF MAXXUM 50mm f/1.4.
Minolta calls this the MAXXUM AF 50mm f/1.4 (22).
MAXXUM is Minolta's autofocus brand, also called Dynax outside the US.
The (22) is the smallest f/stop.
7 elements in 6 groups.
Multicoated, but not particularly well.
Minolta 50mm f/1.4 at f/22.
Stops down to f/22.
Conventional straight blades in the 1985-1990 version shown here.
Curved blades in the 1990-2006 version
35mm film, full-frame and smaller format digital.
Focal Length top
When used on an APS-C style camera, it sees an angle of view similar to what a 75mm lens sees when used on a full-frame or 50mm camera.
Angle of View top
46.7º on 35mm MAXXUM and full-frame.
Close Focus top
1.5 feet (0.45 meters).
Maximum Reproduction Ratio top
Hard Infinity Focus Stop? top
This is great for astronomy; just turn to the stop and you have fixed laboratory-perfect focus all night.
Focus Scale top
Depth-of-Field Scale top
Infra-Red Focus Index top
Yes, but not on the newer version.
Aperture Ring top
Filter Thread top
Does not rotate, but moves in and out as focused.
2.5" (63mm) diameter by 1.5" (38 mm) extension from flange.
It gets longer as focused more closely.
8.050 oz. (228.1 g), actual measured.
Minolta specifies 8.3 oz. (235g).
Minolta 50/1.4 with hood.
There is a built-in pull-out plastic hood as shown. It doesn't lock, so it will get pushed back in with use.
49mm snap-in front cap and standard MAXXUM rear cap.
Made in Japan.
Minolta Product Number top
25621 (both versions).
Price, USA top
The Minolta 50mm f/1.4 works extremely well, especially on a Sony A7 as I tried it.
One full turn (two half-turns) of the AF screw brings it from infinity down to 5 feet, which is pretty fast.
I don't need any AF fine-tuning.
Manual focus smooth and precise.
An 125º turn of the focus ring brings you from infinity to 1.5 feet (0.45 m).
Bokeh, the character of out of focus areas, not simply how far out of focus they are, is quite good for backgrounds at f/1.4.
The Minolta 50mm f/1.4 has moderate barrel distortion, about the same as other new 50/1.4 lenses in 2014.
Use these values in Photoshop's lens distortion filter to correct it completely.
© 2014 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
Minolta MAXXUM 50mm f/1.4. bigger.
Ergonomics are easy; the only control is the focus ring and the rest of the lens is a grip for mounting and unmounting.
Swapping between auto and manual focus requires moving a switch on the camera, or maybe using the Sony A99's DMF mode, any of which can be a big pain or not depending on your camera.
Falloff on full frame and 35mm is visible at f/1.4, mostly gone at f/2 and gone by f/2.8, typical performance for a 50mm f/1.4 lens.
There is no problem with vignetting on full-frame, even with a thick filter.
The filter ring doesn't rotate, but does move forward as focused more closely.
Of interest mostly to cinematographers focusing back and forth between two subjects, the image of a fixed subject continuously gets larger as the lens is focused more closely.
Flare and ghosts are low to moderate. You won't seen them, but if you're crazy enough to shoot directly into the sun or bright lights at night, this is the worst I could make it look:
Minolta 50mm f/1.4 at f/8.
This is superb.
It gets as close as every other modern 50mm lens: 1.5' or 0.45m.
Rear, Minolta 50mm f/1.4.
The Minolta 50mm f/1.4 AF is all plastic on the outside, and all metal on the inside.
Filter Threads, Hood Mount and Forebarrel
Plastic, rubber covered around the bottom.
Seems like all metal, especially the focus helicoids.
Mounting Index Dot
Red plastic ball.
Engraved into bottom of the plastic barrel and filled with white paint.
Moisture seal at mount
Noises When Shaken
The MAXXUM 50mm is super sharp, but less sharp in the full-frame corners wide-open.
Very sharp and contrasty in the center.
In full-frame corners, coma makes the farthest corners a little bit blurry. They are darker from falloff, so no big worries.
Almost perfectly sharp and contrasty in the center.
In full-frame corners, slightly less contrasty.
Perfectly sharp and contrasty throughout most of the image.
Slightly softer in the corners of full-frame.
Perfectly sharp and contrasty throughout most of the image.
In full-frame corners, slightly softer in the last two millimeters.
Everything's perfect, f/8 is optimum.
f/16 and f/22
Diffraction starts to dull the image at f/16 and f/22.
This is a law of physics, not a lens limitation.
Wimpy sunstar at f/8. bigger.
The AF 50/1.4 makes weak, but well-formed 14-pointed sunstars.
This Minolta 50mm f/1.4 is almost 30 years old as tested.
It has no motors and no encoders. There is nothing critical to go wrong that a good repairman can't fix. The only electronics are a ROM chip that should not wear out unless you go doing something stupid, like trying to take it apart. It uses real lead solder, so it ought to be good for a lifetime.
It is perfectly normal for the rubber focus ring or barrel grip to turn white from lack of use. The whiteness rubs off with use; a white looking barrel means a lens that hasn't been used much.
Therefore unlike many newer lenses today, this 50/1.4 AF ought to last last for plenty of more decades of great pictures.
This classic Minolta MAXXUM 50mm f/1.4 AF is a great performer. It's actually sharper at larger apertures than the Minolta MAXXUM AF 50mm f/2.8 Macro!
The 50/1.7 isn't as sharp as either of those at large apertures, that's why it sells for much less used.This ought to be your main lens on full frame with any Minolta MAXXUM or Sony Alpha cameras, or the NEX with the the LA-EA4 adapter. (The simpler LA-EA3 adapter won't autofocus with this lens.)
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