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LensWars: Canon S 50mm 1:1.4 I vs. Canon S 50mm 1:1.5 Serenar vs. Canon S 50mm 1:1.8 I Serenar vs. Super Rokkor 50mm 1:1.8 vs. Super Rokkor 50mm 1:2.0 vs. Minolta MD 50 1:1.4

Comparison of lenses with LTM mount: Canon S 50mm 1:1.4 I vs. Canon S 50mm 1:1.5 Serenar vs. Canon S 50mm 1:1.8 I Serenar vs. Super Rokkor 50mm 1:1.8 vs. Super Rokkor 50mm 1:2.0 vs. Minolta MD 50 1:1.4

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

Tested lenses reviews:

All lenses optically are in very nice condition, have no any issues which can affect photos.

Test description: Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) – fixed on the tripod. Targets (buildings) – fixed by gravity power on the distances in more than 200 meters. All shots were made with apertures from fully opened and up to F16. ISO-100. Shutter Speed – depends on light (camera A-mode), WB – same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. The focus was manually corrected for each shot to exclude focus-shift affecting. Focus point – the center of the picture.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings, cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.

  • Lens behavior on digital and film cameras is different
  • Lens behavior on short and long distances is different
  • This is just the simple resolution comparison on the long distance. But the value of the lens is based on a big list of factors. So, this test can’t help to choose a better lens but can help with an understanding of some technical aspects, which can be usable in real photography with digital cameras.
  • I am just a man, I do not pretend that in all cases my focus settings were absolutely accurate. But I aspired to it.
  • Minolta MD 50 f/1.4 is presented here as one of the best fast 50mm lenses ever, this lens combines good technical characteristics with beautiful bokeh. Of course, tested rangefinder lenses can have better bokeh rendition, but are they balanced enough to be preferred against 25 years younger Minolta MD?
  • Cropped corners and middles got an exposure correction (in RAW), otherwise it impossible to make comparisons – some lenses have really heavy vignetting.

Scene preview:


Test results for the center:


First surprise: Super Rokkor 50/1.8 is the best wide open, even Minolta MD 50/1.4 is a bit worse. All competitors look enough similar at F2 except Canon 50/1.5 which is not so good as others. The same is regarding Super Rokkor 50/2, but F2 for Rokkor is fully opened, so it’s ok. At F2.8 I can see differences only with a microscope.

Test results for the middle:


The difference here is more noticeable.

Wide opened:

  • Minolta MD 50/1.4 gives us a very nice result and can be used in real photography with no doubts. But it’s not news, we know this lens very well. All another is unusable. Ok, ok, maybe Super Rokkor is not so bad as other, but anyway it’s not enough for digital photography. The main idea – avoid to use all these LTM lenses wide opened if the object is not in the center of the frame.

For closed apertures:

  • Minolta MD 50/1.4 became very good at F2 and totally sharp at F2.8
  • Super Rokkor 50/1.8 – shows the best result among other LTM lenses. It is very good at F2.8 and totally sharp at F4
  • Canon S 50/1.8 – number three in our rating, it is very good on F4 and totally sharp at F5.6
  • Bad results: Canon S 50/1.4, Canon S 50/1.5 and Super Rokkor 50/2 – all three are the same, they became acceptable on F5.6 and sharp at F8. Actually, Canon S 50/1.4 is a little bit better on F4 – F5.6, and Super Rokkor 50/2 is worse than any other one, but this information doesn’t change the chart because I can break my mind during sorting out differences in sharpness on so closed apertures.

Test results for the corner:


Description for corners:

  • Big another surprise here – first place is … Super Rokkor 50/2! Wide opened at F2 it is sharper than Minolta MD 50/1.4 at F2.8. Additionally, the amount of sharpness doesn’t change significantly up to F16. It’s double strange if remember that in middle position this lens shows the worst results.
  • Minolta MD 50/1.4 – second place. Very acceptable at F2.8, and sharp enough at F4. I avoid to say ‘totally sharp’ here, because not sure that such words can be used in the description of extreme corners.
  • Canon S 50/1.8 – third. Actually, it is very close to second place, because looks the same as Minolta MD 50/1.4 at F4, but not so good on F2.8.
  • Fourth and fifth places: Canon S 50/1.4 and Super Rokkor 50/1.8 – both are good at 5.6 and sharp enough at 8. Differences are presented of course, but again – a microscope is needed.
  • Last. Canon S 50/1.5, because it never became sharp in corners. Even at F16.

Final conclusion:


What I’m thinking about this mess:

Firstly: no one of tested rangefinder lenses has an IQ which can be close to the SLR  fifties from 1970-1980. I haven’t older SLR lenses for comparison. Secondary: it’s impossible to select the best rangefinder lens in the row. It’s true, I really think so. All these ‘LTMs’ are bad from sharpness or aberrations points of view. I just can confirm, that Super Rokkor 50/1.8 looks micro-nano-slightly preferable than others. And one more thing needs to be remembered – bad IQ usually follows for the good bokeh, and Canon S 50/1.5 or Super Rokkor 50/2 are the great examples of this.

Other battles with Minolta MD 50mmf/1.4:

Resolution test: Minolta MD 50mm f/1.2 vs. MD 50mm f/1.4 vs. MD 50mm f/1.7 vs. MD 50mm f/2.0 vs. MD 50mm f/3.5 macro

Resolution test: Minolta MD 2x Tele Converter 300-s vs primes MD

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