Minolta MD 500mm 1:8.0 RF – review

Published by Tony on

Minolta MD 500mm 1:8.0 RF – vintage manual lens test and review

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

This is the longest lens on the site for today and the review may be interesting just because of this fact.

Minolta MD 500mm 1:8.0 + X700

Minolta MD 500mm 1:8.0 RF (MD III, New-MD) specifications:

# in minolta.eazypix.de index239
Name engraved on lensRF
f[mm]500
A max [1/f]8
A min[1/f]8
Lens design [el.]6
Lens design [gr.]5
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm]77(39)
Lens Shadescrew-in
closefocus[m/ft]4/15
Dimension Ø x length [mm]83,5×98,5
Weight[g]635
Year1983
StyleMD III
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No.674-808

More data

Floating elementsNO
Aperture blades numbern/a
Confidence in the test results of reviewed copiesHigh
Reviewed Lens SN:8003041

Minolta MD 500mm 1:8 RF optical design

Minolta MD 500mm 1:8 RF exterior

Minolta MD 500mm 1:8.0 RF mounted on Minolta X-700

This is a very suitable set – the camera and lens have the same design (camera is released in 1981, lens in 1983)

Minolta MD 500mm 1:8.0 RF sharpness

Сlose-distance resolution test, minimal distance

Testing methods description

  • Target: 10-15 cm picture, printed on glossy photo paper
  • Distance: 5m
  • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF
  • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

Scene preview:

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

Test results:

Just one reminder – distance to this ‘postcard’ is 5 meters (!)

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.
  • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

Scene preview

Test results:

Minolta MD 500mm 1:8.0 RF aberrations

Vignetting

Geometric distortion

This sample shows distortion in the vertical direction. It can be easily seen on the left side of the photo.

Coma aberrations:

Note: the street light on the photo has an oval shape, keep it in mind, please. I just didn’t find a better target for so huge focal distance.

Chromatic aberrations

Long-distance bokeh

Test conditions: the lens was focused on half distance on the scale (8m), buildings are on “infinity”-distance

Light bubbles bokeh

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 4m, lights are on >200m (cityscape)

Minolta MD 500mm 1:8.0 RF (or Minolta MD 500mm F/8, New-MD, MD III design) – overall conclusion

Firstly: this reflex lens has only one aperture, so I didn’t need to make a lot of identical shots for test-diagrams. This factor makes it my favorite lens because the review has been taking the shortest time among all other reviews. I believe that only pinholes can be better for me.

To be serious – this is a very good lens. Or, at least, it is a lot better than I expected. Sometimes people scold it for low sharpness and for a bad bokeh. But it may be because this barrel requires an owner with a little bigger skill than usual. Yes, the bokeh with rings is strange, but not bad at all, and I can describe it as “trendy” for today – some photographers are a bit tired from the tons of creamy Gauss blurs and want to see the character of lenses.

What about the sharpness – just see the test results again. I agree that it isn’t crispy enough for professional photographers, who are working for sport/nature magazines, but for my level it’s absolutely enough – especially for a really low price and lightweight, these parameters can be more important for amateur photographers than totally sharp corners.

Just don’t forget – it’s 500mm, with F8 on wide-open, and operation with this lens isn’t easy – good weather needed, daylight needed, tripod needed, etc. In any way, the lens can be recommended for everyone who needs focal distances over the 300mm but isn’t ready for a huge professional gear.


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