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LensWars: Minolta MC Macro Rokkor QF 50mm f/3.5 vs. MD 50mm f/3.5 Macro

Comparison of lenses Minolta MD 50mm 1:3.5 Macro (MD III, New-MD, NMD), Minolta MC Rokkor QF 50mm 1:3.5 (MC II, Hills&Valleys, “Plain”).

This is yet another battle between the generations. But I want to say in advance – regardless of the test result, in macro photography, both the lenses fully cope with their tasks because of closed apertures in this style of photography. Differences can be found at an infinite distance, but it will not affect the choice of the photographer.

MC Rokkor QF 50mm 1:3.5 MD 50mm 1:3.5
Serial: 2503371 8038372
Optical Condition: average (a few thin scratches on the front element) near mint
Mechanical Condition: near mint near mint
Cosmetic Condition: good near mint

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.

Scene preview:


Test results:


‘What does it mean?’ – my conclusion:

Note: this is the simple comparison on the infinity distance. It is suitable for macro lenses regardless of the fact that they are designed for shooting at short distances. Nevertheless, in the future, a more extended test will certainly be carried out for such lenses.

On opened apertures F3.5 and F5.6 and in the center and middle positions – the New-MD version is significantly better than older Rokkor MC, but Rokkor is amazing in corners and won there up to F8. Such the strange distribution of sharpness over the frame is rare but happens. Anyway, the newer Minolta MD 50/3.5 Macro is preferable because of the total amount of sharpness on photos and of the importance of the middle position for compositions in photography.



  1. I hate to say it, but this is not a good test for macro. Yes, it does tell us how these lenses perform at infinity, but this is not a use-case they were developed for.
    One really has to test sharpness at appropriate magnifications (1:2 for these two, and 1:1 for a baseline) and watch for CA correction, as this can make or break the lens at specific magnification.

    Something like Olympus 80/4 is brilliant at 1:1 (slightly better even than some contemporary macros), but will look atrocious at infinity.


  2. hmm.. I think you’re wrong. This is a good test for any lens that can work at an infinite distance. Or do you think that at micro distances the winner will change? Even more – after the reading of this comparison, you can look at the main reviews with other tests: it seems you don’t know that at least 5 articles on this site are linked with these 50mm Macro lenses. And a few more are planned. One more: no need to pay so many attention for “macro” word – such lenses still the lenses, just with short MFD


  3. >Or do you think that at micro distances the winner will change?

    This is indeed possible, though I’m not making this claim. I think few people realize just how bad really good macros can be at infinity.
    My point here: other 5 articles didn’t say “this macro is better than that macro”, while shooting no macro at all.
    Macro vs macro battle can’t be settled with just the infinity shots.

    P.S. Replies don’t trigger email notification, even though I’ve subscribed for one.


  4. You probably meant that a few million people realize this. Nevertheless, I know that some people believe that the laws of physics do not always work. You can see these two comparisons with different results:
    Please, next time add links to pieces of evidence which may support your words because it’s difficult to understand why are you talking so seriously about these simple things


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