LensWars: Canon FDn 50mm 1:1.2 vs. Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2
Comparison of lenses Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2, Canon New FD 50mm 1:1.2
This comparison is very important for the honor of both manufacturing companies. Especially for Canon, because this company exists until now. Minolta has nothing to lose, you know. That’s why in the addition to the test on infinity distance I’ve made the comparison on close distance with field curvature compensation. Two different tests with different approaches will help to better understanding the behavior of these lenses.
This comparison is correct only for conditions and equipment used for tests. Test results can differ if any element is changed.
Tested lenses reviews:
Long distance – sharpness:
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 cut into 300×200 px elements (100% crops), combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.
- I am just a man, I do not pretend that in all cases my focus settings were absolutely accurate. But I aspired to it.
- Bad weather is better for this test – low-light is required for wide-opened apertures to slow down shutter speed.
Short distance – sharpness:
Test description: target is a 10×15 cm picture (printed, glossy photo paper), fixed on the wall by scotch. Distance – 1.7m. Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. All groups of shots were repeated 3 times for every target position on all apertures from fully opened up to F16, ISO-100, WB – same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot. After all needed shots have been taken for one target position – I moved the target to the next place. Main idea – to exclude the field curvature affect on so close distance. Of course, I can’t be absolutely accurate, but test results looks correct.
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.
Original target image (printed in horizontal orientation on 10cm X 15cm glossy photo paper) – portrait of Rinko Ogasawara
‘What does it mean?’ – my conclusion:
Battle of titans.
It’s strange, but so far I have not seen comparisons of 50mm Canon and Minolta lenses with apertures 1.2. Moreover, I did not meet the good comparisons of Canon 50/1.2 and Canon 50/1.2 L aspherical. Conspiracy… I still didn’t get a version of “Canon L” unfortunately, but I was more lucky with a more simple and common Canon New FD 50mm F1.2. As for the Minolta 50/1. 2, then this lens is one of my favorites, and I’m its proud owner.
Infinity Distance (focus point is on the center position of frame):
- Center: Canon is better at F 1.2 – wide open. There is not a good contrast, but the resolution is absolutely enough for 24 megapixels full-frame sensors. Minolta has the same contrast with less details. But already at F2 both lenses are the same and both became ideal on F2.8.
- Middle: Minolta is better at F1.2 and even more – much better at 2.0. On F2.8 Minolta looks enough for any tasks and Canon can provide the same details just at F5.6. It’s a big difference actually.
- Corner: Minolta is better wide opened, became very good at F4 and ideal at F5.6. Canon became very good at F5.6 and ideal at F8.
It isn’t difficult to select the winner – Minolta MD 50/1.2, because 2-stops difference in the middle of the frame on the most used apertures is huge. Even a 1-stop difference in the corner is too big, so, nice sharpness in the center only at F1.2 only can’t help for Canon.
Short distance with field curvature excluding (focus point is always on the portrait on every position):
- Center: Canon is better wide opened. At F2.0 both became the same. Actually, no changes in this position after the test on infinity distance.
- Middle: Canon is better at F1.2. No mistakes are here. And at F2.0 Canon is better too. At F2.8 Minolta starts to show the same details.
- Corner: Minolta is better from F1.2 up to F2.8.
Canon won here ‘by points’ I think.
Very strange results. Minolta beats Canon on infinity, but Canon became better at close distance.
After I’ve excluded my own mistake by repeating the test with and without beer, I have three versions. First – Canon has a large field curvature and it affects sharpness on infinity. Secondary – there are rumors that Canon lenses were designed to show better test results in reviews. Yes, it sounds like the conspiracy theory, but I heard this rumor many times and even from very famous persons in the photography world. It doesn’t mean that it is true, who knows… Third: Canon designed as is and works as is, without any issues with curvatures and hidden conspiracy. Ok, this lens is better on short distances if the object lies inside DOF – why not? I like this company a lot and prefer to think that the third version is correct. Anyway, I can’t choose correct idea. The overall balance after two tests is shifted towards Minolta.
Finally: Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2 is better than Canon New FD 50mm 1:1.2 in terms of sharpness. But sharpness is only one of the characteristics of lenses.