minolta 1:1,2 /50mm MD lens

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by j_h, Aug 3, 2003.

  1. j_h


    I'd like any info about the minolta 1:1,2/50mm MD lens, good or bad
    from anyone with knowledge or preferably experience with using one.
    Is this lens as good as the 1:1,2/58mm MC lens?
  2. I did own this lens a couple of years ago... and sold it for the 50/1.4 MD-Rokkor-X. The 50/1.2 is VERY soft and low contrast at f/1.2, even in the center. It did not sharpen up appreciably until f/2.8 and even so, lagged behind the 50/1.4 MD-Rokkor-X at every aperture.
  3. I have never owned this lens, so I can't give you a first hand opinion about it's performance. However, the MD 50mm f/1.2 has never reached the cult status of its predesessor, the MC 58mm f/1.2, but it is much less common, and tends to sell for considerably more money on the second hand market.

    Every now and then I see somebody bad-mouth the MD 50mm f/1.2 in discussons on the web. This is usually followed up by other posts that praise the lens most enthusiastically, and suspect any issues with lack of sharpness to stem from lack of accurate focus. This is not necessarly negligence, but could be a camera issue that only really shows up with the extreme thin DOF at f1.2. This type of focus issue with manual focus Minolta cameras has been discussed in depth in the manual focus Minolta YahooGroup at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ManualMinoltaFree/

    In a recent thread in this forum entitled 'Your Favorite Lens', Antony Hands, the author of the Rokkor files (http://users.bigpond.net.au/antony_hands/) writes: 'As for the 50mm, well I actually prefer it to the 58mm. I find that it has less light falloff wide open, and that the sharpness is slightly better. Also, I find the 58mm focal length just a fraction too long for general photography (if I was restricted to just the one lens)'.

    I currently have three MC 58mm f/1.2 lenses, but have never managed to get hold of a MD 50mm f/1.2 at a good price. I would love to check this lens out for myself!
  4. Hi Jelke, and thanks Frank for stealing my thunder! ;o)

    Where to start with the 50mm f/1.2? Well, let me firstly say that I have both the 58mm, and numerous examples of the 50mm f/1.4, so I am actually in a good position to give you an idea. Secondly, let me also say that these comments are based upon my experience and my examples of the lenses concerned - others may have had different experiences, and I respect their right to their own opinions.

    First of all I would like to point out that the 50mm f/1.2 was always going to have a harsh reception from Minolta users. After all, the 58mm was a beloved lens, and highly sought after. Accordingly, it was a hard act to follow. Additionally, the 'feel' of the two lenses is quite different (I will explain shortly how), and I think that Minolta users wanted more of the same, not something different. I believe this is why the 50mm has been harshly treated (in comparison to the 58mm), not because of what it was, but what it wasn't.

    OK, so what are the differences? Well, I read something the other day about the 58mm's "buttery" bokeh, which the writer claimed was outstanding. Well that is certainly true. The 58mm has amazing bokeh, and with the slightly longer focal length makes a great lens for intimate portraits. The 50mm is less suited to this portrait use because of its shorter focal length, but does have excellent bokeh also. Which has better bokeh, well it is pretty hard to say - I will be testing that exact fact after my forthcoming trip - the results will go on my review pages, not for me to decree which is the best, but so the viewer to decide.

    However, I have tested sharpness, with the 58mm, 50mm f/1.2 and 50mm f/1.4. The tests were wide open, and at short range to minimise dof. What I found was that with my examples, the 58mm exhibited considerable light falloff at f/1.2, much more than both of the 50mm lenses. Additionally, the 50mm f/1.2 is sharper across the frame, whereas the 58mm seems to have been optimised for centre sharpness. The f/1.4 performed similarly to the f/1.2, but not a lot better as I expected it to.

    I use the 50mm as my low light lens. The viewfinder is bright, and it is easy to focus. I use the 50mm f/1.4 for all other use - it is a great lens and better for general photography with the later bodies due to its smaller profile and lower weight. The 58mm stays in the bag unless I am shooting portraits and I need zero dof - it is a big and heavy lens that suits a camera like the XE or XK, but not the XD or X-570.

    Final point - if you are buying any of these lenses, your first step should be to check your focus accuracy. I have a focus checker (basically a lined sheet placed at a 45 degree angle to the lens). I focus on one of the lines (marked on the page) VERY CAREFULLY and then get the film developed and scanned. This tells me if my camera is focusing before or behind the correct point. Use the matte screen for this, one thing I have discovered is that all of the split image rings are oh-so-slightly out.

    Do this, and amazing results await you!

    One point - the 58mm is easier to find than the 50mm, and as I said above, is very well regarded. Maybe mine is a bad one - others may have better results. Certainly, you can't go wrong getting a 58mm in good condition. My recommendation, get a late model rubber waffle focusing grip 58mm and a 50mm f/1.4 to go with it. The best of both worlds! Keep an eye out for a 50mm f/1.2 in the meantime, and if you have the cash then, get it and compare the two yourself - I feel that this is quite a subjective area of lens assessment.

    Best regards,

    Antony Hands
  5. Some interesting responses. I'll add my two cents and view. I do have both lenses. The 50mm f1.2 came with a camera I bought in the last few years, and rarely use, and I've had a 58mm f1.2 lens since 1969, use it routinely and wouldn't trade it for the world. If you want sharpness in your "normal" lens, then buy the 50mm f1.4, I understand it's one of Minolta's sharpest lenses, and an excellent lens compared to other normal lenses. If you get a f1.2 lens, for the extra 1/2 f-stop, extra viewfinder brightness, whatever, then you accept the lens' quirks and flaws, and ignore other opinions. You buy and use it because you like the lens (period).

  6. j_h


    dear people, many thanks for your helpful replies; i have the late model rubber waffle focusing grip 58mm lens, i love the lensquality,
    especially at 3,5, and as Antony stated, i will buy the 1,4 lens and in the meantime i keep an eye out for a 50mm f/1.2,
    best regards, jelke
  7. I had an MD 50/1.2 for a few months and didn't like the quality. I noticed considerable light falloff at wide apertures, and I was also distracted by coma effects on my focusing screen (they wouldn't come out in the photos, but they were a pain to deal with). I lucked out and got a 58/1.2 in a cheap package deal on eBay, and after I tested it side-by-side with the 50/1.2, I put the 50 on eBay almost immediately. The 58/1.2 impressed me at f/8 or so much more than the 50/1.2, and I haven't seen any of the light falloff at f/1.2 with the 58 that Anthony describes.

    Bottom line, if you already have the 58/1.2 and you want to pick up a 50/1.4, I wouldn't bother spending the extra money on a 50/1.2. But, hey, it's your money.
  8. I have not used the 50mm f/1.2 but I do have a MC 58mm F/1.2 with hood. I sold my fast 85mm as the 58mm can be hand held in low light. Althought 58mm vs 50mm is not a large difference, the difference is in the right direction (longer). The sharpness and bokeh is Leica like at f/3.5. It balances well on my SRT 101 or XE body. The concept of higher center contrast is similar to Leica's finger print and helps make the image 3d. If I recall, the 1977 April Issue of Modern Photography tested most 50mm lenses. Minolta 58mm was tops in most categories. For more info on Minolta performance, see Medium Format Library Page by Robert Manghan http://medfmt.8k.com/mf/index.html. Click on 3RD PARTY 35MM LENSES, and go to the SURPRISE link in the 5th paragraph from the top.
  9. The correct reference to my post above on 32 normal len tests is May 1978, Popular Photography. The tests may be why the Minolta MC 58MM f/1.2 has cult status.
  10. j_h


    hi richard,

    many thanks for your response, i recently bought my second 58mm in mint condition.............., the bokeh is indeed breathtaking at 3,5

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