Video Field Test | Legacy Lens : Minolta MD 50mm f/1.4
Years ago, I bought a Minolta X-700 from a friend who said he'd never used it. The camera was great, and it's become one of my favorites, but the real gem of that day was the lens that was still attached to the front.
A small, simple-looking standard 50mm prime that opened up to f/1.4, which was actually an upgrade to the Canon 50mm f/1.8 II I'd been previously using.
As I turned it over in my hands, I wondered if it would be any good for the concerts I had been shooting video for lately. I can tell you now that it's good for that, it's great for portraits, and it feels like it belongs on the front of a mirrorless camera.
Minolta made several different versions of a fully-manual 50mm. Most of my favorite Minolta lenses carry the Rokkor or Rokkor-X name, but not this one. This one has a 49mm filter size, a knurled rubber focus ring full of grippy pyramids, and six aperture blades.
The focus is smoothly dampened and the lens feels great in the hand. Full of metal and glass with a long focus throw, it feels almost like a smaller modern-day cinema lens. Compared to the cheap, plasticky-feeling 'nifty fifties' put out by most of the big-name camera companies, this lens feels like a tool machined for customer use, not for profits.
The bokeh is pleasing, and at f/1.4, there's a dreamy haze-like quality that washes over some areas of the image. Sure, there's a bit of purple and green color fringing in high-contrast areas, but it's not unbearable. These characteristics seem to disappear after stopping down to f/4 or so. Personally, I kind of love the way it gives an imperfect charm to the images.
But let's be honest. The best way to see if this lens works for you is to show you. Check out this quick demo video to see the lens in action on a Sony a7sii with a Fotodiox Vizelex ND Throttle adapter which has a variable ND filter built right in.
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