Minolta MD 17mm 1:4 – review

Published by Tony on

Minolta MD 17mm 1:4.0 vintage manual lens test and review

  • Official classification: New-MD
  • Collector’s classification: MD III

This is the widest Minolta lens that can be used for any scenes without geometric correction in post-editing. A rectilinear type – this is the correct term. Greatly powerful even for “over-pixeled” modern digital cameras.

Minolta MD 17mm 1:4.0 (MD III) + X700

Minolta MD 17mm 1:4 (MD III, New-MD) specifications

minolta.eazypix.de index17
Name engraved on the lensMD
f[mm]17
A max [1/f]4
A min[1/f]22
Lens design [el.]11
Lens design [gr.]9
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm]72
Lens Shade
closefocus[m/ft]0.25/1
Dimension Ø x length [mm]75×53
Weight[g]325
Year1981
StyleMD III
Code No. or Order No.611-808
Floating elementsYES
Aperture blades number6
Confidence in the test results of reviewed copiesVery high
Reviewed lens SN:8002155

Minolta MD 17mm 1:4.0 lens exterior

Minolta MD 17mm 1:4.0 mounted on Minolta X-700

This is a very suitable set – the camera and lens have the same design (released 1981)

Minolta MD 17mm 1:4 sharpness

Сlose-distance resolution test

Testing methods description

  • Target: 10-15 cm picture, printed on glossy photo paper
  • Distance:10% longer than minimal focus distance marked on the lens
  • 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

Scene preview

Test results (simple version, easy to compare – 4 positions)

Test results (full version – all 9 positions)

Long-distance resolution test

Testing methods description

  • Target: cityscape
  • Distance: > 200 meters to center focus point
  • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF. The focus point is on the center only.
  • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

Scene preview

Test results

Minolta MD 17mm 1:4 aberrations

Vignetting

Geometric distortion

Coma aberrations

Chromatic aberrations

Short-distance bokeh

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 0.25m, plants are in 2m distance from the camera

Long-distance bokeh

Test conditions: the lens was focused on half distance on the scale (0.5m), buildings are on “infinity”-distance

Light bubbles bokeh

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance + 10% of scale (about 0.27m), diodes were fixed in 2m distance

Minolta MD 17mm 1:4.0 (or Minolta MD 17mm F/4, New-MD, MD III design) – overall conclusion:

By test results, this ultra-wide-angle Minolta 17mm has got perfect geometry and sharpness. Don’t hesitate: this is a top-level product by the optic-industry. And the year of release should not deceive anyone – because even today just a few companies are capable of producing such optics. Yes, someone may say that this lens is expensive, but on the other hand – is it real to find a cheaper lens and with the same possibilities on 17mm focus distance? And don’t forget – it should be rectilinear. So, if a photographer likes an extremely wide-angle but aren’t ready for fish-eye – he has no many alternatives.

By the way: the auto-focus isn’t necessary on such focal distances. Just one recommendation for “landscapers” – it is better to use F8 to get the best sharpness distribution over the frame. Additionally, the lens looks enough small and lightweight – another one good trait for any lens. So, it seems that this lens has no weaknesses and can be recommended.


2 Comments

fettmatte · 2021-05-17 at 22:40

thank you for your excellent work. I have read a lot on your site and I like it very much. I also love the MD III lenses. Even if you don’t really like wide-angle lenses, I think you’ve forgotten a masterpiece. The 16mm 2.8 is just wonderful. It has a great build quality and is much sharper than the 17mm F4.

    Tony · 2021-05-18 at 14:16

    Hello, thank you.
    What about Minolta’s 16mm 2.8 – fisheye lenses have no geometry corrections therefore their sharpness cannot be compared with rectilinear lenses, at least before correction when printing photographs or in digital editors

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