The Minolta 50 AF f/1.7 is considered as a must have lens for Sony or Minolta DSLR owners. Is this lens a real bargain or is it to hyped?
The Minolta 50 AF f/1.7 has been discontinued when Sony purchased Konica Minolta DSLR department. It was the little brother of the Minolta 50 AF f/1.4 that has been re-branded Sony and is still produced.
This fast prime lens was designed in the middle of the eighties. Is has been reshaped with a soft plastic focus ring instead of a metal one. This version is known as the "RS" one. My 2 copies were the "Old".
The construction quality of this lens is excellent and it is very robust. But because they are very old and they can have been used intensively, be carefull because sometime the iris is oily and this oil prevent it to close at the aperture required by the body settings. One of mine had this problem and was repaired.
To be sure your copy will not have this problem, ensure that the iris is oil free (swith from 1.7 to f/22 while pressing the DOF control button). Take a shoot in A mode at f/22. If the picture is not overexposed, then everything is OK.
The Minolta 50 AF f/1.7 is a very compact lens. The small lens hood is integrated into the lens (internal).
Thank to the wide aperture the autofocus is fast even in low light condition. Having such a fast lens enable you to shoot in low light conditions without using the flash, but at full aperture the dept of field will be very narrow.
This lens is soft wide opened (f/1.7) but is very sharp when stopped at f/2.8 or more. Stopped at f/2.8 it is slightly sharper than the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 in hight contrast scene (this is the worst case for the zoom) thanks to a better control of chromatic aberation. The color rendition is excellent.
This is really an excellent fast prime lens just a bit soft wide opened. An other pro is that it is a full-frame lens, so it will be compatible with full-frame DSLR.
The street price of the Minolta 50 AF f/1.7 was 100€ (for a new one) when it was discontinued. It was a real bargain for a new lens. Then, 3 years later on the aftermarket, they are sold for more than 130€ for 20 years old models!
I think this is a little expensive for a '80s lens. Considering that the Helios 44-2 is as sharp or sharper at f/2.0 and produces an nicer bokeh, I decided to keep the Helios 44-2, and to sell both of my 2 copies of this Maxxum 50 AF f/1.7 to purchase the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 XR DI2
It was one of my favorite lenses before I purchased the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 because this Minolta 50 AF f/1.7 was far better than the Konica Minolta kit zoom. But now, I do not miss this Minolta 50 AF f/1.7 because the Tamron is more versatile, fast enought (2.8) and produces a very good image quality. When I want to play (and accept the constraints) with a fast prime, I use the Helios 44-2