Minolta SR 50mm 1:1.4 lenses comparison – MC-X, MD I, MD-II, MD-III

Published by Tony on

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 nameOptical designFilter
Thread
close
focus
 Ø x lengthWeightYearStyle
MC ROKKOR(-X) PG7 el. in 5 gr.55mm0.5m65.2x46mm305g1973MC(X)
MD ROKKOR(-X)7 el. in 5 gr.55mm0.45m64x40mm245g1977MD I
MD ROKKOR(-X)7 el. in 5 gr.55mm0.45m64x40mm245g1978MD II
MD ROKKOR(-X)7 el. 6 gr.49mm0.45m64x40mm220g1979MD II
MD7 el. 6 gr.49mm0.45m64x40mm235g1981MD 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

Scene preview

Minolta SR 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)

Special thanks to beautiful Suzuki – she’s agreed to become our model for this battle photo-session.

Test results

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.

Infinity distance:

Here the results with winners under every position ON INFINITY DISTANCE :

CenterMiddleCorner
MC-X vs MD IequalMCMCMC is winner
MC-X vs MD IIMCMD IIMD IIMD II is the winner
MC-X vs MD IIIequalMD IIIMD IIIMD III is the winner
MD I vs MD IIMD IMD IIMD IIMD II is the winner
MD I vs MD IIIMD IMD IIIMD IIIMD III is the winner
MDII vs MD IIIMD IIIequalequalMD 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:

MC-X3 wins
MD I2 wins
MD II4 wins
MD III5 wins

Short distance:

The results with winners under every position ON SHORT DISTANCE:

CenterMiddleCorner
MC-X vs MD IequalMCequalMC is winner
MC-X vs MD IIMCequalMD Iboth winners
MC-X vs MD IIIMDequalMDMD is winner
MD I vs MD IIMD IMD IIMD IIMD II is the winner
MDI vs MD IIIequalMDequalMD is winner
MD II vs MD IIIMDequalequalMD 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:

MC-X2 wins
MD I2 wins
MD II2 wins
MD III4 wins

The sum of results from both distances:

Battles wonPositions won
MC-X35
MD I14
MD II36
MD III69

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.

Formal rating:

  1. Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4 (MD III)
  2. Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm 1:1.4 (49mm filter thread, 7×6) (MD II)
  3. Minolta Rokkor MC PG 50mm 1:1.4 (MC-X)
  4. 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.


7 Comments

p · 2018-12-19 at 07:34

maybe you could test the bokeh among then.

    Tony · 2018-12-19 at 11:17

    Yes, a bokeh comparison would be interesting. As an option there are bokeh samples in reviews of lenses, it may be sufficient for overall opinion

      Henrik · 2019-03-25 at 12:51

      Should be the same as they have the same aputure blades.

      Btw. One does not buy Rokkors for beautiful bokeh. But for other resons. IMO.

Henrik · 2019-03-25 at 12:40

Resolution is one thing. One buys Rokkor for their color and rendering which is Leica-esque.

So my question is which of these had the best spatial rendering? That is which has the best 3D pop? Like the rokkor 45 and 35 and 85mm etc.

Tony · 2019-03-25 at 13:09

The same aperture blades = The same bokeh? Strange joke ))

Tessai · 2019-05-18 at 22:24

I love your project)) and I love my Rokkor PG 1.4 50mm so much)) Thanks for review))
With love from Moscow,Russia

    Tony · 2019-05-18 at 22:39

    Privet! Spasibo )) You are welcome!

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