Canon FDn 35mm 1:2.0 vs Minolta MD 35mm 1:1.8 – comparison

Published by Tony on

Canon FDn 35mm 1:2.0 vs Minolta MD 35mm 1:1.8 – comparison

  • Canon New FD 35mm 1:2.0 (nFD)
  • Minolta MD 35mm 1:1.8 (MD III)

The 35mm focal distance is in second place after ‘fifties’ by popularity and it makes the fighting for ‘the best 35mm lens’ award is very important. Additionally, this pair of fast 35mm – Minolta MD and Canon FDn – are very well known as great performers and have a legendary status lenses. It’s strange to me that I can’t find head-to-head comparisons on the internet. So, let’s do 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

Canon FDn 35mm 1:2.0 vs Minolta MD 35mm 1:1.8 – sharpness

Long-distance test description

  • Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) – RAW (ARW), tripod, A-mode, ISO 100, WB fixed, SteadyShot OFF, manual focus correction for every shot
  • Targets (buildings) – fixed by gravity power on the distances in more than 200 meters
  • ARW post-processing – Capture One, default settings, 100% crops 300×200 px

Note: the bad weather is better for this test – low-light is required for wide-opened apertures to slow down the shutter speed.

Scene preview

Test results

Canon FDn 35mm 1:2.0 vs Minolta MD 35mm 1:1.8 - long distance

Short distance – sharpness:

Short-distance test description

  • Target: 10-15 cm picture, printed on glossy photo paper
  • Distance: 1.7m
  • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF.
  • The test was repeated for every F-stop on every focus position with manual focus adjustment for each shot. That is to avoid the effect of field curvature.
  • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

Original target image (printed in horizontal orientation on 10cm X 15cm glossy photo paper)

Scene preview

Test results

Canon FDn 35mm 1:2.0 vs Minolta MD 35mm 1:1.8 - short distance

Canon FDn 35mm 1:2.0 vs Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.8 – final conclusion

This is not the first battle of Canon FDn vs Minolta on this site, and now we can see that behavior in comparison of these two lenses is very similar for the behavior of two another lenses: Canon FDn 50/1.2 vs Minolta MD 50/1.2 battle – Canon is sharper in the center if wide opened, but not so good on 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 is not difficult to select the winner here – Minolta MD 35/1.8. Canon has an advantage in the center and if wide-open only, it is not enough.

Short distance with field curvature excluding (focus point is always on Misaka’s face on every position):

  • Center: Canon is better wide open. 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


Minolta MD 35mm 1:1.8 is better than Canon New FD 35mm 1:2.0 in terms of sharpness. It’s a real and visible advantage because on wide focal distances the distribution of sharpness over the frame is enough 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.


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