Minolta SR 50mm 1:1.4 lenses comparison – MC-X, MD I, MD-II, MD-III
Minolta SR 50mm 1:1.4 lenses comparison:
- Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm 1:1.4 (MC-X)
- Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm 1:1.4 (MD I)
- Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm 1:1.4 (MD II)
- Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4 (MD III or New-MD)
This is the comparison of Minolta-SR 50mm lenses – from Rokkor MC up to New MD – all are the best classic 50mm lenses ever, and this selection of the winner is just an option – photographers can use any of these lenses without doubts and without reading of this article, but it was curious to find out how the Minolta’s optics changes from generation to generation.
The comparison is big enough and maybe boring, so, if you prefer to sort out in details – you need the patience to look over all diagrams with samples, if you just interested who is a winner – go to the end of the article, but such way is not to recommend, because it would be better if someone controls the author’s conclusion.
Accordingly to minolta.eazypix.de – Index Minolta has produced five 50mm SR-lenses with fast F1.4, please see the table with the main differences:
|Engraved name||Optical design||Filter|
|Ø x length||Weight||Year||Style|
|MC ROKKOR(-X) PG||7 el. in 5 gr.||55mm||0.5m||65.2x46mm||305g||1973||MC(X)|
|MD ROKKOR(-X)||7 el. in 5 gr.||55mm||0.45m||64x40mm||245g||1977||MD I|
|MD ROKKOR(-X)||7 el. 6 gr.||49mm||0.45m||64x40mm||220g||1979||MD II|
|MD||7 el. 6 gr.||49mm||0.45m||64x40mm||235g||1981||MD III|
Description of the comparison methods
For tests, I’ve got four versions: all except one MD Rokkor (second generation – II) with 55mm filter thread and 7 el. in 5 gr. – I skipped this Rokkor because some of the sources say that there are no differences between this version and previous Rokkor MD (first generation – I) – both lenses even have identical code numbers of parts. Anyway, for today we have a comparison of four SR-mount Minolta 50mm F1.4 lenses – from the older to the newer:
- Minolta Rokkor MC PG 50mm 1:1.4
- Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm 1:1.4 (55mm filter thread, 7×5)
- Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm 1:1.4 (49mm filter thread, 7×6)
- Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4
Tested lenses full reviews links:
This comparison is correct only for conditions and equipment used for tests. Test results may differ if any element is changed.
I believe that the final results are close to the truth as many as possible. During the test have been used:
- one Minolta Rokkor MC PG 50mm 1:1.4 (MC-X)
- one Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm 1:1.4 55mm filter thread (MD I)
- two different copies of Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm 1:1.4 49mm filter thread (MD II)
- two different copies of Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4 49mm filter thread (MD III)
Test on infinity distance has been fully re-made four times to exclude any suspicious artifacts or deviations. Tests on short distance not so difficult because can be taken independently of weather or daylight, so were repeated more times, but partly for some apertures and positions.
For example, this is the pre-comparison of two similar MD III 50mm 1:1.4 – it was a part of the preparation for the main battle. One of the copies is in great condition, but the second I’ve got with fungus, haze, fingerprints on inner elements, oil everywhere, and with focus ring shifted to the wrong position (copy 2). After the cleaning and fixing this ‘copy 2’ has been used in the battle as main MD III 50mm 1:1.4 – because both work close the same.
Let’s start the tests.
Minolta SR 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
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)
Special thanks to beautiful Suzuki – she’s agreed to become our model for this battle photo-session.
MC-X vs MD I – Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm 1:1.4 vs. MD Rokkor 50mm 1:1.4
MC-X vs MD II – Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm 1:1.4 vs. MD Rokkor 50mm 1:1.4
MC-X vs MD III – Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm 1:1.4 vs. New-MD 50mm 1:1.4
MD I vs MD II – Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm 1:1.4 vs. MD Rokkor 50mm 1:1.4
MD I vs MD III – Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm 1:1.4 vs. New-MD 50mm 1:1.4
MD II vs MD III – Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm 1:1.4 vs. New-MD 50mm 1:1.4
Minolta SR 50mm 1:1.4 lenses comparison – results
The main idea (repeating):
All Minolta fifties are from the top level of the world optics, and differences between that absolutely little and mixed dependently of distances and positions on frames. If you got one of these lenses it doesn’t make sense to find another.
Well, the battle is the battle and a winner should be selected.
The main fighting for the center and the middle positions happens on F1.4 – F2.0 – on other apertures, we need a microscope to see the difference and after F4.0 even microscope can’t help. Corners can display differences up to F4.
Here the results with winners under every position ON INFINITY DISTANCE :
|MC-X vs MD I||equal||MC||MC||MC is winner|
|MC-X vs MD II||MC||MD II||MD II||MD II is the winner|
|MC-X vs MD III||equal||MD III||MD III||MD III is the winner|
|MD I vs MD II||MD I||MD II||MD II||MD II is the winner|
|MD I vs MD III||MD I||MD III||MD III||MD III is the winner|
|MDII vs MD III||MD III||equal||equal||MD III is the winner|
As can be seen – MD III has got three victories, MD II – two and MC – one.
Another way to select a winner – score by the number of won positions ON INFINITY DISTANCE:
|MD I||2 wins|
|MD II||4 wins|
|MD III||5 wins|
The results with winners under every position ON SHORT DISTANCE:
|MC-X vs MD I||equal||MC||equal||MC is winner|
|MC-X vs MD II||MC||equal||MD I||both winners|
|MC-X vs MD III||MD||equal||MD||MD is winner|
|MD I vs MD II||MD I||MD II||MD II||MD II is the winner|
|MDI vs MD III||equal||MD||equal||MD is winner|
|MD II vs MD III||MD||equal||equal||MD is winner|
As it can be seen – MD III got three victories, MC – two, MD I – one, MDII – one.
Score by the number of won positions ON SHORT DISTANCE:
|MD I||2 wins|
|MD II||2 wins|
|MD III||4 wins|
The sum of results from both distances:
|Battles won||Positions won|
And don’t forget about untested Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 (MDI) with 49mm filter thread – I think it works like MD I Rokkor.
- Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4 (MD III)
- Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm 1:1.4 (49mm filter thread, 7×6) (MD II)
- Minolta Rokkor MC PG 50mm 1:1.4 (MC-X)
- Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm 1:1.4 (55mm filter thread, 7×5) (MD I)
Minolta SR 50mm 1:1.4 lenses comparison – final conclusion
Honestly, I love MD III 50mm F1.4 a little bit more than others – and maybe that’s why I think that this lens is winner, but if it even so – I agree that the advantage of this MD III is very small, or better to call it – “micro”. After a few months with a lot of repeated tests with different copies, I can’t select the best one among the other three competitors. Even rule “Japan products in XX century: the newer – the better” works not as it usually expected, for example – MD Rokkor I 50/1.4 maybe isn’t better optically than older MC Rokkor PG 50/1.4 but lighter and smaller with the same result.
At the and of so long comparison I have only one recommendation – enjoy your own Minolta 50mm F1.4 lens – the model doesn’t matter.