Here you can see the comparison of Minolta-SR 50mm lenses – from Rokkor PG up to New MD – all are the best classic 50mm lenses ever, and this selection of winner is just an option – photographers can use any of these lenses without any doubts and without reading of this article, but it was curious to find out how the Minolta’s optics changes from generation to generation.

The comparison is big enough and may be boring, so, if you prefer to realize details – you need a patience to look over all diagrams with samples, if you just interested who are winner – go to the end of article, but such way is not recommend, because it would be better if someone control the authors conclusion.

Note for collectors or those who know many about Minolta: ‘MDIII’ term is not using to don’t confuse the other readers, so plain ‘MD’ means ‘MDIII/New MD’

Accordingly to minolta.eazypix.de – Index Minolta has produced five 50mm SR-lenses with fast F1.4, please see the table with main differences:

Engraved name Optical design Filter
Thread Ø
close
focus
Ø x length Weight Year Style
MC ROKKOR(-X) PG 7 el. in 5 gr. 55mm 0.5m 65.2x46mm 305g 1973 MC(X)
MD ROKKOR(-X) 7 el. in 5 gr. 55mm 0.45m 64x40mm 245g 1977 MD I
MD ROKKOR(-X) 7 el. in 5 gr. 55mm 0.45m 64x40mm 245g 1978 MD II
MD ROKKOR(-X) 7 el. 6 gr. 49mm 0.45m 64x40mm 220g 1979 MD II
MD 7 el. 6 gr. 49mm 0.45m 64x40mm 235g 1981 MD III

For tests I’ve got four versions: all except one MD Rokkor (second generation – II) with 55mm filter thread and 7 el. in 5 gr. – I skipped this Rokkor because some of sources say that there are no differences between this version and previous Rokkor MD (first generation – I) – both lenses even have identical code numbers of parts. Anyway, for today we have comparison of four SR-mount Minolta 50mm F1.4 lenses – from the older to the newer:

  • Minolta Rokkor MC PG 50mm 1:1.4
  • Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm 1:1.4 (55mm filter thread, 7×5) I
  • Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm 1:1.4 (49mm filter thread, 7×6) II
  • Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4

Tested lenses full reviews links:

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MDR5014__Avatar.png

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This comparison is correct only for conditions and equipment used for tests. Test results can be differ if any element is changed.

I believe that final results are close to the true as many as it possible. During the test have been used:

  • one Minolta Rokkor MC PG 50mm 1:1.4 (MC)
  • one Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm 1:1.4 55mm filter thread (MD I)
  • two different copies of Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm 1:1.4 49mm filter thread (MD II)
  • two different copies of Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4 49mm filter thread (MD)

Test on infinity distance has been fully re-made four times to exclude any suspicious artifacts or deviations. Tests on short distance not so difficult because can be taken independently of weather or daylight, so were repeated more times, but partly.

For example, this is the comparison of two similar MD 50mm 1:1.4 – it was a part of preparation for the main battle. The one of copies is in great condition, but the second I’ve got with fungus, haze, fingerprints on inner elements, oil everywhere and with focus ring shifted to wrong position (copy 2). After the cleaning and fixing this ‘copy 2’ has been used in the battle as main MD 50mm 1:1.4 – because both work close the same.

test_A_MD5014vsMD5014II_longdist.jpg

To the tests.

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.

Note: direction of the sunlight has been little bit changed during the session, keep it in mind please during reviewing of diagrams.

Scene preview:

5014_MC_MDI_MDII_MDIII_2018nov__e_far_preview.jpg

Sharpness – close distance:

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-200, 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)

Suzuki_2print.jpg

Special thanks to beautiful Suzuki – she’s agreed to become our model for this battle photo-session.

Test results:

Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm f/1.4 vs. MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 (MDI)

 


Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm f/1.4 vs. MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 (MDII)

 


Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm f/1.4 vs. MD 50mm f/1.4

 


Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 (MDI) vs. MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 (MDII)

 


Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 (MDI) vs. MD 50mm f/1.4

 


Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 (MDII) vs. MD 50mm f/1.4

 

 


‘What does it mean?’ – my conclusion:

Let me to repeat the main idea, it is important:

All Minolta fifties are from the top level of the world optics, and differences between that absolutely little and mixed dependently of distances and positions on frames. If you got one of this lens it doesn’t make sense to find another.

Well, the battle is the battle and a winner should be selected.

The main fighting for the center and the middle positions happens on F1.4 – F2.0 – on other apertures we need a microscope to see the difference and after F4.0 even microscope can’t help. Corners can display difference up to F4.

Here the results with winners under every position ON INFINITY DISTANCE:

Center Middle Corner
MC PG 50mm f/1.4 vs. MD I 50mm f/1.4 equal MC MC MC is winner
MC PG 50mm f/1.4 vs. MD II 50mm f/1.4 MC MD II MD II MD II is winner
MC PG 50mm f/1.4 vs. MD 50mm f/1.4 equal MD MD MD is winner
MDI 50mm f/1.4 vs. MD II 50mm f/1.4 MD I MD II MD II MD II is winner
MDI 50mm f/1.4 vs. MD 50mm f/1.4 MD I MD MD MD is winner
MDII 50mm f/1.4 vs. MD 50mm f/1.4 MD equal equal MD is winner

As it can be seen – MD got three victories, MDII – two and MC – one.

Another way to select winner – score by number of won positions ON INFINITY DISTANCE:

Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm f/1.4 3 wins
Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 (MD I) 2 wins
Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 (MD II) 4 wins
Minolta MD 50mm f/1.4 5 wins

The results with winners under every position ON SHORT DISTANCE:

Center Middle Corner
MC PG 50mm f/1.4 vs. MD I 50mm f/1.4 equal MC equal MC are winner
MC PG 50mm f/1.4 vs. MD II 50mm f/1.4 MC equal MD I both winners
MC PG 50mm f/1.4 vs. MD 50mm f/1.4 MD equal MD MD is winner
MDI 50mm f/1.4 vs. MD II 50mm f/1.4 MD I MD II MD II MD II is winner
MDI 50mm f/1.4 vs. MD 50mm f/1.4 equal MD equal MD is winner
MDII 50mm f/1.4 vs. MD 50mm f/1.4 MD equal equal MD is winner

As it can be seen – MD got three victories, MC – two, MD I – one, MDII – one.

Score by number of won positions ON SHORT DISTANCE:

Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm f/1.4 2 wins
Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 (MD I) 2 wins
Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 (MD II) 2 wins
Minolta MD 50mm f/1.4 4 wins

The sum of results from both distances:

Battles won Positions won
Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm f/1.4 3 5
Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 (MD I) 1 4
Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 (MD II) 3 6
Minolta MD 50mm f/1.4 6 9

And don’t forget about untested Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 (MDI) with 49mm filter thread – I think it works like MD I Rokkor.

Formal rating:

  1. Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4
  2. Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm 1:1.4 (49mm filter thread, 7×6) II
  3. Minolta Rokkor MC PG 50mm 1:1.4
  4. Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm 1:1.4 (55mm filter thread, 7×5) I

Final conclusion:

To be honestly, I love the MD 50mm F1.4 little bit more than others – and may be that’s why I think that this lens is winner, but if it even so – I agree that the advantage of MD is very small, and after a few month and a lot of repeated tests with different copies I can’t select the best one among other three competitors. Even rule “Japan products in XX century: the newer – the better” works not as it usually expected, for example – MD Rokkor I 50/1.4 may be isn’t better optically than older MC Rokkor PG 50/1.4 but lighter and smaller with the same result. I have one recommendation – enjoy your own Minolta 50mm F1.4 lens.

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