Minolta MD 35mm 1:1.8 vs MD 35mm 1:2.8 vs Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.8 ZA – comparison

Published by Tony on

Minolta MD and Sony 35mm lenses comparison:

  • Minolta MD 35mm 1:1.8 MD III
  • Minolta MD 35mm 1:2.8 MD III
  • Sony Carl Zeiss FE 35mm 1:2.8 ZA

I could never make a choice on one of the two lenses – New MD 35/1.8 or New MD 35/2.8. To be honest, this comparison does not help either – they are both the best.

This comparison is correct only for conditions and equipment used for tests. An element changed – the result changed.

Tested lenses

And Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.8 ZA – as guest in additional comparison.

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


  • Most of Minolta’s lenses haven’t half-clicks after the first aperture position. So, for example, aperture “F2.0” for MD III 35mm 1:1.8 means an aperture set in the middle position between F1.8 and F2.8
  • Sunlight changed during the session
  • Other available 35mm Minoltas can be found here – minolta.easypix.de

Minolta MD 35mm lenses comparison – sharpness/resolution

Scene preview

Test results for the center

Minolta MD 35mm lenses comparison - Center

Scene preview – middle position

Test results for the middle

Minolta MD 35mm lenses comparison - Middle

Scene preview – corner position

Test results for the corner

Minolta MD 35mm lenses comparison - Corner

Minolta MD 35mm comparison – final conclusion

From the sharpness point of view, Minolta MD 35mm F2.8 … is better than faster and much expensive Minolta MD 35mm F1.8 even wide open from F2.8 and up to F4.0. Yes, the difference can be seen only with a microscope, but it presented. After F4.0 both lenses are the same. On the other hand, Minolta MD 35mm F1.8 has F1.8 but Minolta MD 35mm F2.8 doesn’t have.

It is truly impossible to choose the best 35mm Minoltas both of them are good for different tasks.

Let’s continue with

Minolta MD vs Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.8 ZA

My friend gave me Sony Carl Zeiss 35mm F2.8 for quick photo-session of buildings – just with only one focus point in the center.

I did not have enough time to work and therefore deviations are possible. Anyway, I am pretty sure – overall results are close to the true picture of these lenses ‘ behavior.

Scene preview

Test results

For the center:


For the middle


For the corner


Minolta MD and Sony 35mm lenses comparison – final conclusion

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.8 ZA can take the same pictures as Minolta MD 35mm 1:2.8. Not more. With the difference in the age between these lenses of about 35 years, it seems as Minolta’s victory.


Ferrand · 2018-07-09 at 20:09

Very nice reviews and competent comments about the qualities of all these lenses. Congrats and keep on the good work. This is tremendous help for any buyer.

Gustavo · 2018-09-02 at 23:58

Wow… I just bougth a md 35 1.8 because of you:). I like that the post is very close in time and you cmpare it with the zeiss , wich I recently sold, and I have mixed feeling with the voigtlander 40mm1.4. I intend to use it with techartpro. I also have the 50 1.4 pg and I love it too

    Tony · 2018-09-03 at 11:37

    Thank you too. And about the MD 35/1.8 – I’ve done the comparison with Canon nFD 35/2 – also legendary lens, going to publish it soon, just need to finish the comparison article and review article of the Canon

      gustavo Ibarra · 2018-09-05 at 02:02

      That interesting, I got one a week ago, ( the old version SSC up to f16) and the very first impression was, nice bokeh but not really sharp (kind is going back to ebay) . Actually it was the reason why I begin to look at this Minolta. The minolta is arriving next week :), Will be keeping an eye on your post.

awper361 · 2019-09-19 at 04:00

Read this comparison (and demo-photo of MD 35mm F2.8, Carl Zeiss 35mm F2.8) for multiple times. I feel better when browsing photos taken by Carl Zeiss. It’s hard to describe but a pleasing combinations of colors for me. May I ask if color included in your conclusion as a factor? Or maybe the feeling about color is very variant for individuals and hard to measure.

awper361 · 2019-09-19 at 11:30

Thank you!

eames k · 2019-11-23 at 03:27

Hi Tony,

Very thorough review and examples.
I absolutely love my Minolta MD 35mm f/2.8 MD III.
Not only is it one of the sharpest lens I’ve ever used, it is so light and small.
It’s a joy to carry around me with everywhere.

love your website and manga art.

    Tony · 2019-11-23 at 13:23

    Thank you. This lens is always in my bag too

Ty · 2021-02-14 at 23:11

Hi Tony, I already own the MD iii 35mm f2.8 but thinking of also getting the 35mm F1.8 too, mainly because it might have more subject insolation if needed, do you think it worth it for the extra blur?

    Tony · 2021-02-15 at 11:22

    Hi Ty. This is a rather subjective and difficult question. I personally would say that for a fairly wide 35mm focal length and 1 stop difference, this will not give a very noticeable effect, however, you will get some difference in a blur. I also think that buying any 50/1.4 lens will be noticeably cheaper, and the gain in a blur is huge. On the other hand, buying a 35/1.8 instead of a 35/2.8 will give you a slightly more versatile lens due to the increased aperture. I really cannot give an exact answer – there are a lot of pros and cons

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