Minolta MD 50-135mm 1:3.5 Zoom – review

Published by Tony on

Minolta MD 50-135mm 1:3.5 Zoom lens review

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

The very special zoom because of unusual behavior. But with an absolutely clear purpose – this is a great tool for portraiture.

Tests for this review are divided for 50mm, 80mm, 135mm groups.

Minolta MD 50-135mm 1:3.5 Zoom + Minolta X-700

Minolta MD 50-135mm 1:3.5 Zoom specifications:

# in minolta.eazypix.de index268
Name engraved on lensMD ZOOM
f[mm]50-135
A max [1/f]3.5
A min[1/f]32
Lens design [el.]12
Lens design [gr.]10
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm]55
Lens Shadeclip-in
closefocus[m/ft]1.5/5
Dimension Ø x length [mm]68.5×118
Weight[g]480
Year1981
StyleMD III
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No.677-810
Notes

More Data

Floating elementsYES
Aperture blades number6
Average international price (sold items)2019: USD 50-75
Reviewed Lens SN:8010506

This lens has been produced in two incarnations – the latest New-MD version and the previous one which is labeled as ROKKOR. Or Minolta MD-II and MD-III styles by the popular collector’s classification. There are no optical and mechanical differences, just little changes in the exterior. My heart is always on the side of New-MD lenses, so I’ve got the latest MD-III modification.

Minolta MD 50-135mm 1:3.5 Zoom lens exterior:

Lens Shade (or Lens Hood):

Minolta MD 50-135mm 1:3.5 Zoom mounted on camera Minolta X-700

Minolta MD 50-135mm 1:3.5 Zoom Macro sharpness

Сlose-distance resolution test, minimal distance

Testing methods 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

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

 

Minolta MD 50-135mm 1:3.5 Zoom TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 50mm

50mm – Sharpness – a short distance

Scene preview

50mm – Test results

50mm – Sharpness – long distance

50mm – Scene preview

50mm – Test results

50mm – Vignetting

50mm – Geometric distortion

50mm – Coma aberrations

50mm – Chromatic aberrations

50mm – Long-distance bokeh

Test #1

Test conditions: the lens was focused on 1.5m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance

50mm – Light bubbles bokeh

Test #1

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 1.5m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Minolta MD 50-135mm 1:3.5 Zoom TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 80mm

80mm – Sharpness – short distance

80mm – Scene preview

80mm – Test results

80mm – Sharpness – long distance

80mm – Scene preview

80mm – Test results

80mm – Vignetting

80mm – Geometric distortion

80mm – Coma aberrations

80mm – Chromatic aberrations

80mm – Long-distance bokeh

Test#1

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance 1.5m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance

80mm – Light bubbles bokeh

Test #1

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 1.5m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Minolta MD 50-135mm 1:3.5 Zoom TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 135mm

135mm – Sharpness – short distance

135mm – Scene preview

135mm – Test results

135mm – Sharpness – long distance

135mm – Scene preview

135mm – Test results

135mm – Vignetting

135mm – Geometric distortion

135mm – Coma aberrations

135mm – Chromatic aberrations

135mm – Long-distance bokeh

Test#1

Test conditions: the lens was focused on 1.5m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance

Test#2:

Test conditions: lens was focused on 3m (half of the scale), houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

135mm – Light bubbles bokeh

Test #1

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 1.5m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Other resources with reviews

Minolta MD Zoom 50-135mm F3.5 – final conclusion

This zoom covers all the most popular portrait focal lengths. It’s convenient. I just don’t like some lack of sharpness, but note: sharpness falls in the corners strongly, but the middle looks good or, better to say – it’s enough, because in portraiture photography objects usually are located in the middle or center. But as a reviewer, I have to say that the sharpness of the lens (my tested copy) is not as good as one would expect. In other words – the lens is mostly for photographers, not for pixel peepers.

Aberrations

The lens hasn’t noticeable vignetting, chromatic or coma. Of course, aberrations are presented and this zoom isn’t ideal but everything is inside of ‘standard borders’ for Minolta, it means – much better than average level. The geometric distortion is also can be called as noticeable or better to say – very noticeable, but again – nothing special, most of the zooms have an issue with geometry. And it is very strange because, you know, the most interesting bokeh is provided by lenses with big aberrations… And here are the question – what about the bokeh of that zoom?

My first expression after I saw the result of the test was like: ‘The portrait zoom with swirly bokeh? Interesting…’

‘Swirly’ is the most contradictory type of bokeh. On the one hand – it is very striking and motley. It looks strange at least and pulls the attention of spectators from the main object. On the other hand – in some rare cases this feature can underline the main object. The examples of famous lenses with swirly bokeh are Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 75mm F/1.5 and Helios 40-2 85mm F/1.5. The tested Minolta 50-135 F/3.5, of course, is not so cool but can show something like.

As a result

Yes, this lens shows a small lack of sharpness and uneven sharpness distribution over the frame. But I can easily imagine a photographer who will love this lens because of the nice rendering in the complex with the specifically portrait focal distances diapason. The swirly effect is not as pronounced as that of Zeisses or Helioses etc, but is still present.

I can’t say something like “strongly recommend as a main portraiture tool for photographers”, but at least it’s worth a try – because of convenient focal distances, good IQ in right zones of a frame, and unusual rendering. In addition, this is quite a cheap lens. An experiment is needed, suddenly you will like it – definitely, the lens stays in the top half among other portrait-zooms.


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