Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2 – review

Published by Tony on

Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2 – vintage manual lens test and review

  • Official classification: New-MD
  • Collector’s classification: MD III

F1.2 means that a heavy artillery is here. Dream-fifty with tons of glass and Minolta’s quality. This lens is permanently underrated independently of a price.

Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2 + X700

Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2 (MD III, New-MD) specifications

minolta.eazypix.de index 92
Name engraved on lens MD
f[mm] 50
A max [1/f] 1,2
A min[1/f] 16
Lens design [el.] 7
Lens design [gr.] 6
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm] 55
Lens Shade clip-in
closefocus[m/ft] 0.45/1.5
Dimension Ø x length [mm] 65×46
Weight[g] 310
Year 1981
Style MD III
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No. 589-800
Floating elements NO (full support by autofocused adapters)
Aperture blades number 6
Confidence in the test results of reviewed copies Very high
Reviewed lens SN: 8024417

Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2 exterior

Mounted on Minolta X-700

This is a very suitable set – the camera and lens have the same design (1981 released)

Dear friends, I’m looking for an original lens-shade (lens-hood) for Minolta MD III 50-1.2. Even for an unreasonable price. Any condition. Let me know please if you have one or know the place where it is available.

Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2 sharpness

Сlose-distance resolution test

Testing methods description

  • Target: 10-15 cm picture, printed on glossy photo paper
  • Distance:10% longer than minimal focus distance marked on the lens
  • 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

Scene preview

Test results (selected version, easy to compare – 4 positions)

Test results (full version – all 9 positions)

Long-distance resolution test

Testing methods description

  • Target: cityscape
  • Distance: > 200 meters to center focus point
  • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF. The focus point is on the center only.
  • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

Scene preview

Test results

Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2 aberrations


Geometric distortion

Coma aberrations

Chromatic aberrations

Short-distance bokeh

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 0.45m, plants are in 2m distance from the camera

Long-distance bokeh

Test conditions: the lens was focused on half distance on the scale (1m), buildings are on “infinity”-distance

Light bubbles bokeh

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance + 10% of scale (about 0.5m), diodes were fixed in 2m distance

Light bubbles bokeh, long-distance

On the minimal focusing distance 0.45m

One example wide opened (I’ll add more later):

Other resources with tests:

Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.2 (or Minolta MD 50mm F/1.2, New-MD, MD III design) – overall conclusion

This lens represents balance. Yes, it isn’t sharpest among other lenses, but very sharp, it doesn’t have the best bokeh, but this bokeh is lovely enough, it isn’t most lightweight but not heavy. The 50mm is the most universal and can be used for landscapes, street, portraits, etc. Additionally, it can provide thin DOF, and F1.2 can be used in low light. So, you got the idea – this is the most universal lens among others. If I were allowed to have only one lens, then I would choose this. It is ready for landscapes even from F2.8, for all other tasks from F2.0, and it really can be used on F1.2 without tons of softness like it often happens with other ultra-fast lenses. I recommend auto-focus adapters that can help a lot to make photos on F1.2.


David · 2018-03-25 at 22:56

Hello, nice site and review. I have the earlier version of this lens, optically identical it is said. It’s perfectly useful for lots of things wide open if you aren’t the type of person to prefer macro lenses for human portraits, I find, and like how it tends to make the background rather bright. As long as one can avoid bokeh highlights stopped down it’s a fine lens. If I need sharp wide open I use the MD 50/2.

howiedewing · 2021-04-22 at 21:02

I have this exact lens, currently the “home” lens for my Minolta XD11 built in 1978. Not the 100% correct vintage combination, but I love this lens, and my GAS hasn’t quite gone away. I also have a Minolta XE with a vintage-correct 50mm MC ROKKOR-PG 1:1.4, and recently purchased a Sony a7 II with the idea of making this MD III f/1.2 my go-to lens for the Sony and getting a vintage-correct MD II 50mm for the XD 11. So, should I get a 1.4 or 1.2 for the XD 11? The extra half-f/stop is inconsequential on the digital Sony with its Steady Shot, but might help me get that “shot in the dark” with the Minoltas. Help me. Am I nuts?

    Tony · 2021-04-23 at 01:39

    Hey there. It’s not a good idea to ask me for an advise because I’m definitely addicted to 1.2 lenses. Tons of 50mm lenses have been tested on the site and we all know – the ultra-fast 1:1.2 lenses has a same amount of issues as advantages – if to compare them with 1:1.4 competitors. But I cannot refuse to use 1.2 lenses. They represent power as it is. It’s just a pleasure to be able to take pictures with such cool tools, regardless of the ability to use their power to the fullest. So, if you can afford 1.2 – why not to get it? Just remember – this advice is from addicted person. Otherwise, if the second 1.2 lens looks too much for the collection, than go to the MD-II 50/1.4 with no doubts.
    What about a selection between MD-II or MD-III for the XD-11 (1978) – this question is also very subjective. It seemed to me that among collectors it is believed that for XD-cameras with the old logo, the Rokkors are more authentic. You know that the MD-III line started in 1981, which is a bit later than your 1978 camera. On the other hand, the 1.2 lenses were not included into kits and were purchased separately from the cameras. Therefore, the slight difference in generations between the camera and the lens looks quite nice. I would simply proceed from which lens comes first on auctions, or which lens will be the most cost effective.
    By the way, I recently tested Rokkor MD-II 50/1.2, that review is not yet on the site, but I can safely assume that there is no difference in the image between MD-II and MD-III. Perhaps this will make the choice a little easier

Howie Dewing · 2021-04-23 at 03:17

A fun quandary, indeed. Then again, I see the bokeh monster MC II 58mm f/1.2 for sale, too, for less than the MD III 50mm f/1.2 I already have. It’s such a joy to read up on the lenses you have so diligently tested for us, but it’s also such torture to decide which to get. But decide I must do. I’m running out of shelf space.

    Tony · 2021-04-23 at 12:20

    I understand you, I also have a problem with shelf space.
    BTW – 58/1.2 looks great on XD series ))

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