Canon FDn 50mm 1:1.2 vs Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2 – comparison

Published by Tony on

Canon FDn 50mm 1:1.2 vs Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2 – comparison

  • Canon FDn 50mm 1:1.2 (New-FD)
  • Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2 (MD III)

This comparison is very important for the honor of both manufacturing companies. Mostly for Canon, because they are alive. What about Minolta – they are dead and have nothing to lose, you know.

Tested lenses reviews

Canon FDn 50mm 1:1.2 vs Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2 – 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 50mm 1:1.2 vs Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2 - infinity

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)

Test results

Test results

Canon FDn 50mm 1:1.2 vs Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2 - short distance

Canon FDn 50mm 1:1.2 vs Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2 – final conclusion

This is a battle of titans.

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 luckier with a simpler 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 fewer 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 open, 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 – it is a huge gap. 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 open. 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 the 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.


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