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Minolta AF 50mm F/1.4 With K & F Concept A To E Mount Manual Adapter Vintage Lens Review

Jonh Riley has been playing around with the vintage Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4 lens on the modern Sony A7R III 42MP to find out if it can still capture decent photos.


|  Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4 in Vintage Lenses
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Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4
 

There are so many beautifully made lenses out there, no longer used because they are perhaps manual focus or belong to a camera system that is discontinued or out of favour. Many of them can be used though, either in their native form or via some sort of manual or even fully functional adapter. Here we look at a mint example of the Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4 lens, intended for the Minolta/Sony A mount, but for the purposes of this review used via an adapter on the Sony A7R III  42MP mirrorless body. This loses the AF, but let's see if the lens remains a viable option and how it handles and performs.

 

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Minolta AF 50mm F/1.4 Handling and Features

Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4
 

Before we set off on our tour of the lens, first we need an adapter to use the SLR lens on a Sony mirrorless E mount camera. There is actually such a beast in existence, the Sony LA-EA4 AF adapter, but this is sadly discontinued. Examples could also set us back several hundred pounds on the second-hand market. Instead, the K&F Concept MAF-NEX manual adapter costs £34.99 from Amazon, is well made in metal and does the job, albeit without AF. We also lose the aperture control from the camera, but there is an unmarked aperture ring on the adapter that offers the appropriate apertures without markings. It is just necessary to count them off, but the job can be done. The adapter is well made and does not disgrace itself alongside the beautifully engineered Minolta lens.

On to the lens itself, which is metal and weighs in at just 235g. This version is the original Minolta f/1.4 AF lens that was available from 1985-1990. It can be identified by the red AF on the front ring and the red IR focusing index on the depth of field scale. Starting at the front of the lens, we have the conventional 49mm filter thread and a small pull out lens hood. The hood is a nice gesture, but really only a gesture as it is very fiddly to grip and pull out and so small that its effectiveness will be extremely limited. However, as it's there it would seem rude not to use it, so it has been dutifully pulled into position every time.

There is a very thin manual focusing ring, not surprising as this is of course an AF lens. It is commendably smooth without being as slack as so many are. An excellent bit of engineering with just the right amount of resistance. Behind this is a clear plastic window that reveals the distance scale, marked clearly in feet (yellow) and metres (white). There is also a depth of field scale provided, including an Infra-Red index mark at the f/4 position. When using IR film the lens would be focused normally and then the focus ring moved to the IR mark to correct the focus point. Lenses of the day were not corrected for IR light, which would focus at a slightly different point to visible light.

Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4
 

Focusing is down to the expected 0.45m, or 1.5 feet. The optical construction is again traditional, being 7 elements in 6 groups. The diaphragm consists of 7 straight blades, so no attempt is made to consider bokeh, which was not a term familiar to photographers of the era.

When this lens was in use on the SLR cameras of its day the AF would have been the primary method of focusing, but if necessary it would have been manually focused using optical viewfinders, the best of which would use silver-coated pentaprisms. Less expensive bodies would use aluminium-coated pentaprisms, which would not be as bright. The point of focus would probably vary considerably with the amount of care the photographer used, the acuity of vision and whether or not any dioptre correction lenses were used on the viewfinder. This was before the days of built-in dioptre correction. So focusing was more of an issue at wider apertures in particular than many of us might have thought. Now, using this lens for manually focusing on the Sony A7R III proves an absolute breeze, providing the focusing magnification is used. If not, then accuracy can be poor, but taking the time and hitting the spot is the way to really very sharp and satisfying images.

Nail the focus and the lens is great to use, with a tremendous, quality feel to it that can be translated into fine images as well. Great fun.

 


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Comments


zimmy 10 United States
8 Nov 2021 6:05PM
MTF graphs are for the Fujifilm lens.
8 Nov 2021 9:27PM
Thanks zimmy, there has been a glitch and it will be sorted shortly. Apologies for the incovenience.
9 Nov 2021 9:15AM
Sorry - this was my fault! All should be correct now.

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