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LensWars: Minolta MD 35mm f/1.8 vs. MD 35mm f/2.8 and one more

Comparison of lenses Minolta MD 35mm 1:1.8, Minolta MD 35mm 1:2.8 and Sony FE 35mm 1:2.8 ZA.

I could never make a choice on one of the two lenses – New MD 35/1.8 or New MD 35/2.8. To be honest, this comparison does not help either – they are both the best.

Everything below is correct only for conditions and equipment used for tests. Test results can differ if any element is changed.

Tested lenses:


And Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.8 ZA – as guest in additional comparison.


Test description: Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. Targets (buildings) were fixed by gravity power on the distances in more than 200 meters.  All shots were made with apertures from fully opened and up to F11. ISO-100. Shutter Speed – depends on light (camera A-mode). SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot to exclude focus-shift. For excluding of any possible field curvatures affects – focus was set on the red rectangle for every of positions – center, middle, corner (see scene previews).

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings, and with little WB correction (because weather changes). 300×200 px elements were cropped (100% crops), combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.

As you know, Minolta’s N-MD series lenses haven’t “half-click” after the first aperture position, so I stop ring in the middle position, but it’s impossible to set it precisely, so, if you see that a picture taken, for example, with N-MD 35mm f/1.8 on aperture 2.0 – it means that picture was taken on aperture set in the middle position between 1.8 and 2.8. Same for N-MD 35mm f/2.8 with photo taken on f3.5.

  • Sunlight has been changed during the session. A lot of times, every 2 minutes.
  • I am just a man, I do not pretend that in all cases my focus settings were absolutely accurate. But I aspired to it.

Scene preview – center position:

Test results for the center:

Scene preview – middle position:

Test results for the middle:

Scene preview – corner position:

Test results for the corner:

My conclusion:

From the sharpness point of view, Minolta MD 35mm F2.8 … is better than faster and much expensive Minolta MD 35mm F1.8 even wide opened from F2.8 and up to F4.0. Yes, the difference can be seen only with microscope, but it presented. After F4.0 both lenses are the same. On the other hand, Minolta MD 35mm F1.8 has F1.8 but Minolta MD 35mm F2.8 doesn’t.

That’s why for me it’s impossible to choose the best 35mm Minolta’s – both of them are good for different tasks.

About Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.8 ZA:

My friend gave me Sony Carl Zeiss 35mm F2.8 for quick photo-session of buildings – just with only one focus point in the center.

I did not have enough time to work and therefore deviations are possible. In anyway, I am pretty sure – overall result are close to the true picture of these lens’s behavior.

Scene preview:

Test results:

For the center:


For the middle:


For the corner:


My simple conclusion:

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.8 ZA can take the same pictures as Minolta MD 35mm f/2.8. Not more.



  1. Very nice reviews and competent comments about the qualities of all these lenses. Congrats and keep on the good work. This is tremendous help for any buyer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow… I just bougth a md 35 1.8 because of you:). I like that the post is very close in time and you cmpare it with the zeiss , wich I recently sold, and I have mixed feeling with the voigtlander 40mm1.4. I intend to use it with techartpro. I also have the 50 1.4 pg and I love it too


  3. Thank you too. And about the MD 35/1.8 – I’ve done the comparison with Canon nFD 35/2 – also legendary lens, going to publish it soon, just need to finish the comparison article and review article of the Canon


  4. That interesting, I got one a week ago, ( the old version SSC up to f16) and the very first impression was, nice bokeh but not really sharp (kind is going back to ebay) . Actually it was the reason why I begin to look at this Minolta. The minolta is arriving next week :), Will be keeping an eye on your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Read this comparison (and demo-photo of MD 35mm F2.8, Carl Zeiss 35mm F2.8) for multiple times. I feel better when browsing photos taken by Carl Zeiss. It’s hard to describe but a pleasing combinations of colors for me. May I ask if color included in your conclusion as a factor? Or maybe the feeling about color is very variant for individuals and hard to measure.


  6. Hi Tony,

    Very thorough review and examples.
    I absolutely love my Minolta MD 35mm f/2.8 MD III.
    Not only is it one of the sharpest lens I’ve ever used, it is so light and small.
    It’s a joy to carry around me with everywhere.

    love your website and manga art.

    Liked by 1 person

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