Canon FDn 50mm 1:1.4 vs Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4 – comparison

Published by Tony on

Minolta and Canon – 50mm 1:1.4 lenses comparison:

  • Canon New-FD 50mm 1:1.4
  • Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4 (MD III)

I consider this article to be my most serious attempt to answer the question – which 50mm F1.4 lens is better – Canon New FD or Minolta MD.
There are many such comparisons on the Internet. But not one of the known for me does not satisfy me. The reasons are different: some have been made on a crop camera, some compare 58mm lens with a 50mm lens from the same distance, some compare Canon New FD with Minolta Old MC. Someone simply makes mistakes in focusing or does not keep in mind the field curvature. Or performs the tests at a distance of 50 cm and in the center only.

But this is a very important comparison. The fact is that such lenses, 50/1.4 – are the main point of the product lines for all serious companies. Having the best fast fifty in a production line can be named as ‘companies honor’. Even for today. As you can see, I understand responsibility.

Regarding Canon FDn 50/1.4 and Minolta MD 50/1.4: both lenses are very similar. Flange focal distance is 41.9mm for Canon and 43.50mm for Minolta. Both are from the last product lines of the pre-autofocus era. Both were in production at the same time. Both have the same schemes – 7 elements in 6 groups, ‘planars’. Both even look similar. Prices on auctions are very close.. Etc. OK, let’s do the comparison

This comparison is correct only for conditions and equipment used for tests. Test results can differ if any element is changed.

Tested lenses reviews

Minolta and Canon – 50mm 1:1.4 lenses comparison – sharpness

Long-distance test description

  • Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) – RAW (ARW), tripod, A-mode, ISO 100, WB fixed, SteadyShot OFF, manual focus correction for every shot
  • Targets (buildings) – fixed by gravity power on the distances in more than 200 meters
  • ARW post-processing – Capture One, default settings, 100% crops 300×200 px

Note: the bad weather is better for this test – low-light is required for wide-opened apertures to slow down shutter speed.

Scene preview

Test results

Minolta and Canon - 50mm 1:1.4 lenses comparison - long-distance

Short-distance test description

  • Target: 10-15 cm picture, printed on glossy photo paper
  • Distance: 1.7m
  • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF.
  • The test was repeated for every F-stop on every focus position with manual focus adjustment for each shot. That is to avoid the effect of field curvature.
  • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

Original target image (printed in horizontal orientation on 10cm X 15cm glossy photo paper)

Scene preview

Test results

Minolta and Canon - 50mm 1:1.4 lenses comparison - short distance

Minolta and Canon – 50mm 1:1.4 lenses comparison – final conclusion


At the start, I recommend links Canon New FD 50mm 1:1.4 and Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4 – after these articles it’s clear that aberrations of the lenses are approximately the same. In many ways, they work even like twins. Also, I want to clarify that both tested lenses are in excellent condition and there is no reason to think that were being damaged in any way.

The second stage was a comparison at a long distance. And at this stage the difference between the lenses became noticeable. Moreover, the amount of this difference can be called as big.

To make sure that there is no mistake, the test on short distance has been performed. And it confirmed the previous result. So, we have a winner with no doubt. You can see it in the diagrams. But I think that some explanations would be appropriate here.

Far distance test results description:

F1.4

Center – similar
Middle – Minolta is a lot better
Corner – Minolta is a tiny better

F2.0
Center – similar
Middle – Minolta is a lot better
Corner – similar

F2.8
Center – similar
Middle – Minolta is incredible a lot better
Corner – similar

F4.0
Center – similar
Middle – Minolta is a lot better
Corner – Canon is a tiny better

F5.6 and further
Center – similar
Middle – Minolta is better
Corner – Canon is better

As you can see, Minolta has a really noticeable advantage in the middle position. And for F2.8 this advantage is even huge. Also, Minolta is better in corners on up to F2.8. Canon has a little advantage in corners after F4.0.
Can it be the result of affecting by a field curvature with Canon lens? Don’t know. But if so, then it’s not good to have such a field on infinity. Anyway, we have results of the test with excluded field curvature effect:

Portrait distance test results description:

F1.4

Center – similar
Middle – Minolta is a better
Corner – Minolta is a tiny better

F2.0
Center – similar
Middle – Minolta is a better
Corner – similar

F2.8
Center – similar
Middle – Minolta is a tiny better
Corner – similar

F4.0 and further
Center – similar
Middle – similar
Corner – similar

We can see the same tendency as in previous long-distance tests – Minolta is better wide opened up to F4.0.

The winner:

Minolta MD 50mm F1.4 is better than Canon New FD 50mm F1.4 in terms of sharpness.


0 Comments

Ersin · 2018-08-12 at 12:54

I also own these lenses in mint condition. I tested them on my Sony a7 and I agree with your findings. On a 16 mp MFT sensor the Canon is better at open apertures, but the Minolta is better at f/8 across the frame.

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