LensWars: Canon FDn 35mm f/2.0 vs. Minolta MD 35mm f/1.8
Canon New FD 35mm 1:2.0 vs Minolta MD 35mm 1:1.8
35mm focal distance is in the second place by popularity after ‘fifties’ and it makes the fighting for the ‘best 35mm lens’ award very important. Additionally, these pair of fast 35mm – Minolta MD and Canon FDn – are mostly known and can be named as legendary lenses. It’s strange for me that I can’t find a head-to-head comparison on the internet. So, let’s make it.
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.
- 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.
- 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)
Incredible Misaka Mikoto – special guest on our photo-session:
‘What does it mean?’ – my conclusion:
This is not the first test of Canon FDn vs Minolta on this site, and we can see that behavior in comparison of these two lenses very similar for behavior of two another lenses: Canon FDn 50/1.2 vs Minolta MD 50/1.2 battle – Canon is sharp in the center if wide opened, but not so good with other positions and apertures.
Infinity Distance (focus point is on the center position of frame):
- Center: Canon is better at F 2.0 – wide open. Minolta on F1.8 has the same contrast with fewer details. But already at F2.8, both lenses are ideal and same.
- Middle: Both the same at 1.8/2.0. On F2.8 Minolta looks enough for any tasks and Canon can provide the same details just at F5.6.
- Corner: Minolta is better wide opened – F1.8, becomes very good at F5.6 and ideal at F8.0. Canon became very good at F8 but can’t give the same sharpness as Minolta over the whole diapason.
It isn’t difficult to select the winner – Minolta MD 35/1.8. Canon has only advantage in center-wide opened, it not enough.
Short distance with field curvature excluding (focus point is always on the portrait on every position):
- Center: Canon is better wide opened. At F2.8 both became the same. There are no changes in this position after the test on infinity distance.
- Middle: Canon is better at F2.0/1.8. At F2.8 Minolta starts to show the same details.
- Corner: Minolta is better from F1.8/2.0 up to F2.8 and from F4.0 both lenses look the same except little deviations
Finally: Minolta MD 35mm 1:1.8 is better than Canon New FD 35mm 1:2.0 in terms of sharpness. It’s a real advantage because on wide focal distances the distribution of sharpness over the frame is quite important ability. On the other hand, the difference isn’t too big to push a photographer, who already has Canon FD 35/2, to switch to MD. Both lenses are great.