Review: Minolta MD RF 500mm 1:8

Minolta New MD reflex mirror 500mm F8.0 lens review.

This is the longest lens on the site for today and it should be interesting just because of it.

After getting a new lens, I always take a few technical shots to understand its strengths and weaknesses – usually it helps me a lot to start using unknown lens with much less of doubt. One day I decided that my data might be interesting for someone else and this site has been made.


Minolta New-MD (MD III) 500mm 1:8 parameters:

# in index 239
Name engraved on lens RF
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 Shade screw-in
closefocus[m/ft] 4/15
Dimension Ø x length [mm] 83,5×98,5
Weight[g] 635
Year 1983
Style MD III
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No. 674-808

Floating elements NO (full support by autofocused adapters)

Minolta MD RF 500mm 1:8 optical design
Minolta MD RF 500mm 1:8 optical design

Lens exterior:

(Please, forgive me the dust on the lens, I never have the patience to clean objects for close-up photo sessions)

Lens code name – Yozora Mikazuki  三日月 夜空:

Yozora Mikazuki (三日月 夜空, Mikazuki Yozora) is the female deuteragonist in the Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai series. She is the founder, first member, and club president of the Neighbor’s Club. Prideful and easily provoked by nature, Yozora detests “normals” but decided to make a club to make friends.

Sharpness – close distance:

Test description: target is a 10×15 cm picture (printed, glossy photo paper), fixed on the wall by scotch. Distance – 5m. Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. Three shots  for three positions have been made for this lens – all at F8, ISO-100, WB – auto. SteadyShot – OFF. Main idea – to exclude the field curvature affect on so close distance.

Of course, I can’t be absolutely accurate, but results looks good enough.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Corner position file got a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), then cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.

Scene preview:


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

Yozora Mikazuki 30.jpg

Test results:

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


Resolution – long distance:

Test description: Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed via viewfinder. Target (building) was fixed by gravity power on the distances in more than 200 meters. Only one shot has been made for F8. ISO-100. Shutter Speed – depends on light (camera A-mode), WB – auto. SteadyShot – OFF.

Finally, picture was converted from ARW-file in Capture One with default settings, with slight light correction for better visual convenience in comparison, then were cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagram and exported into JPEG-file.

Scene preview:


Test results:



(frames scaled – 300×200)


Geometric distortion:

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

(frame scaled 1200×800)


Coma aberrations:

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

(100% crops – 300×200)


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)


Long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on half distance on the scale (8m), houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)


Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance 4m, lights were fixed in more than 200m. Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is demonstration of extreme conditions. In most cases of real life photography the blur level will be less.

(frame scaled 1200×800)


My overall conclusion about the Minolta N-MD 50mm 1:2.0F (Minolta MD III 50mm F/2):


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

To be serious – this is a very good lens, true. At least it is a lot better than I expected. Usually people scold it for low sharpness and for a bad bokeh. But, for example, recently I’ve seen as the photo which has been taken with this lens got “best in this month” in “Rokkor Bokeh” group in Facebook. Yes, bokeh of this lens is strange, but not bad at all, and I can describe it as “trendy” for today – some photographers are 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 really low price and lightweight, these parameters can be more important for amateur photographers than totally sharp corners. But don’t forget – it’s 500mm, with F8 if wide open, operation with this lens isn’t easy – good weather needed, daylight needed, tripod needed etc. In anyway, it’s easy for me to recommend this lens for everyone who need focal distances over the 300mm+ but aren’t ready for huge professional gear.


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