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LensWars: Minolta MD Zoom 35-70mm f/3.5 macro vs. Sony CZ FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA, MD 50mm f/1.4

The famous zoom versus famous primes. Tired of listening to theoretical opinions about how good this zoom is? Now you can see it with your own eyes in detail.

Tested lenses reviews:


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 F16. ISO-100. Shutter Speed – depends on light (camera A-mode). SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot to exclude focus-shift.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have 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

  • Sunlight has been changed during the session.
  • I am just a man, I do not pretend that in all cases my focus settings were absolutely accurate. But I aspired to it.
  • F4 on diagrams means F4 for primes and F3.5 for the zoom

Focal distance 35mm

Scene preview (35mm):


Test results (35mm):


Focal distance 50mm

Scene preview (50mm):


Test results (50mm):


My conclusion:

Of course, zoom can’t beat the primes with the level of E 35/2.8 ZE or MD 50/1.4. The purpose of this comparison is to show that the photographer loses in terms of sharpness if using a zoom lens instead of primes. Actually – not many. Just avoid the opened aperture – at F5.6 all positions look close the same, difference is presented but too slight to be noticed. So, if a photographer doesn’t need thin DOF during a photo-session – zoom would be preferable than a set of primes. Minolta really produced the gem.


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