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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 the review can be interesting just because of this fact.

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 an 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
Aperture blades number n/a
Average international price (sold items) 2019: USD 200-250
Reviewed Lens SN: 8003041

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)

Mounted on Minolta X-700:


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

Scene preview:


Test results:



(frames scaled – 300×200)


Geometric distortion:

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

(frame scaled 1200×800)


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.

(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 minimal distance 4m, lights were fixed in more than 200m. Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is the 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 the review has been taking the 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 on Facebook. Yes, the bokeh of this lens 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. 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 any way, it’s easy for me to recommend this lens for everyone who needs focal distances over the 300mm+ but aren’t ready for huge professional gear.

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