If you are a new photographer or a collector of lenses, then Minolta definitely has to be on your priority list. These vintage lenses are one of the must-haves for any photography enthusiasts.
Although they are old lenses, you will be happy to know that they have a range of different lenses to cater to different needs. Amazingly these lenses have mounts that are compatible with all of the current manual focus bodies.
Moreover, all the best Minolta lenses are affordable, making them even more appealing and convenient for you to add them to your collection. If you want to know more about Minolta lenses and their best lenses, continue reading this review.
What Are Minolta Lenses?
Minolta Co. Ltd was founded in Osaka, Japan, back in 1928, and since then, it has been one of the first brands to effectively introduce futuristic lenses. Since then, they have produced a widespread collection of lenses for the manual focus SLR system.
They were also one of the first brands to develop and produce autofocus lenses. In fact, they were the first ones to successfully produce different types of lenses, such as 35mm and more.
Currently, most new lens developments have been inspired or derived from Minolta SR-mount lenses.
Review of the Best Minolta Lenses
We have carefully selected and reviewed five of the top vintage Minolta lenses in the hopes that it helps to guide you into getting the best lens.
1. Minolta 50mm f/1.7 AF Lens
The 50mm f/1.7 by Minolta is the world’s first autofocus SLR. It is one of the smallest and compact lenses made by them. While it has a short focus throw, you will be happy to know that both autofocus and manual focus are quick and accurate.
If you compare it with the latest lens of other brands, you will find the shutter noise a bit annoying, but that’s a good price to pay for a classic such as this. We adored the simplicity of the design and usability. It has just the needed elements and is fast and simple to use and adjust.
But, what we were taken aback by was the crisp image quality that this lens produces despite being such an old piece. Staring from the exceptionally vivid colors to the sharp focus on the subject and the beautifully blurred background, this lens will leave you with amazing pictures.
What’s even better is the fact that despite being such an old and affordable lens, it has a pretty good range of aperture. The wide aperture of f/1.7 will allow you to take pictures even if you don’t have access to proper or good lighting.
If you are just starting out and don’t want to spend much on wide-angle lenses, these will definitely be one of the most ideal choices out there. Nonetheless, this is one of the best vintage Minolta lenses, which will be a great addition for any photography enthusiast.
The lens has a wide aperture range, which will allow you to conduct photoshoots during nighttime as well. More importantly, the sharpness and fast focus of this wide-angle lens make the process of getting great shots easier.
As it’s a vintage lens, maintaining it is a bit more complex and crucial. Also, the lens is made out of plastic, which may affect durability.
2. Minolta Maxxum AF 70-210mm f/4 Telephoto Zoom Lens for SONY ALPHA
Revived by Sony, the Minolta AF 70-210mm was one of the most popular lenses back in the day and for good reasons too. It is still considered one of the best Minolta lenses for sony alpha in 2021 although it has some flaws. The telephoto zoom is long, but it won’t extend out when adjusting the zoom.
While making the telephoto lens reviews, we have notices some important aspects. Now it won’t give you the sharpness that the 50mm provides you with; however, the sharpness of this lens is also quite commendable.
You will get a nice and smooth bokeh for your background in almost all the settings but a little less around 70mm. The clarity and setup make it one of the best Minolta Maxxum lenses you can find.
The color and contrast of these Minolta Maxxum lenses need to be praised. They have managed to keep the colors as true and as sharp as possible; however, there is noticeable distortion and color fringing.
Keep in mind that issues such as distortion and color fringing are not as significant in the pictures and probably can be minimized by using the right settings and subjects.
You will find visible noise and lens flare from time to time in the pictures, which we found pretty cool as it further adds to the feel of vintage.
While testing the focus and stability of the lens, we found that although it’s noisy and takes time to focus on the subject, it is fairly accurate and stable. Therefore, once you have managed to focus on your subject, the lens is likely to give you a sharp, focused image, even if your hands shake.
We also took the time out to compare the lens with other similar Sony lenses. When compared, we noticed that despite being such an old lens in a lot of ways, the Minolta 70-210mm produced a better quality of images.
Despite being an old telephoto lens, it has great features such as good focus, stability, and sharpness you need in any digital camera. This Minolta lens on sony alpha is also able to capture all the vivid colors and is likely to give you a cool vintage feels with noise and flare.
Both the autofocus mode and manual focus of the Minolta Maxxum lenses takes time to adjust while being noisy.
3. Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.7 Mount Lens
Although not as popular as the Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4, the Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.7 is an absolute treasure that will not let you down. This lens is not only great for taking pictures but also allow you to film at 1080p even in low light!
Why it is the best minolta 50mm lens according to some experts?
Compared to most kits, the isolation is incredible, especially when shooting at f/1.8 or f/2.8. You will be able to create that sweet cinematic look with the lens as both the background and foreground gets beautifully blurred.
It does get a bit difficult to nail the focus on the subject as the sharpness isn’t as good as the AF 50mm. But that being said, you will be able to isolate your subject and get the lovely circular bokeh.
This is one of those focus lenses that can be used on a daily basis because of its versatile nature. It is popularly used for portraits or close up shots, but you can easily use it for landscape, cityscape, and more.
Also, it is a super lightweight and easy to carry lens that is super affordable, making it the best Minolta AF lenses choice for anyone.
Well, it may produce some lens flare as the glass is not coated like the modern lenses we find nowadays, but it can be easily avoided if your placement is right. Or you can use the flares as a cool filter or design when appropriate.
We recommend pairing the Minolta MD on Sony Alpha to get the best use out of this lens.
This super-affordable lens creates beautiful cinematic backgrounds and can be used for creating HD videos as well as photos with a normal digital camera. You can use this one for autofocus street photography as well. The versatility and weight of the lens allow it to be used on a regular basis for various different types of shoots.
The lens takes a little time to focus and does not produce as sharp images or videos as the AF 50mm f/1.7 does.
4. Minolta Rokkor-X 50mm 1:1.4 Manual Focus Lens
Unlike most of the other lenses by Minolta, this lens is built out of metal, glass, and durable rubber for the focus ring, making it one of the most durable and sturdy lenses of their collection.
It is one of the best Minolta manual lenses according to some photographers for some advantages. This lens is larger and a bit heavier than the average 50mm lenses, but it is a well-balanced lens.
You should be aware that the contrast and sharpness of the image are affected by the veiling flare. However, it can be prevented by simply shielding the front lens while shooting in harsh lights.
Another thing we noticed, when shooting broader or multiple subjects in the long-range, the sharpness of the image becomes quite uneven.
While the middle or center of the image manages to be sharp, the corners of the subject tend to get blurry, and the colors start to fade. However, this does not occur when shooting things in a short-range with a digital camera. Compared to the other focus lenses of Minolta, this one produces a significantly small quantity of barrel distortion.
The bokeh isn’t as smooth as the MD 50mm 1:1.7, but it does a fairly good job with clear image quality. You may also notice the cat’s eye and strong outlining effect at the wider aperture range. However, these issues don’t occur when shooting in f/2.4 and more.
All in all, it is a joy to use this lens as it’s a well-made versatile lens that will give you great pictures and videos during most scenarios.
Compared to other 50mm lenses, the sharpness, and build quality really stand out. Most of the reviews on this lens is positive in a different online shop. Using this lens will make you forget that this was built decades ago as the quality is outstanding.
The flare resistance of the lens is quite weak.
5. Minolta MD Rokkor-X 1:1.7 55mm Lens
The last lens we want to talk about is the Minolta MD Rokkor-X 1:1.7 55mm lens. The build of this lens is phenomenal; in fact, the build of the lens is better than a lot of recent models that would easily cost you over a grand.
It is a small and lightweight lens that is also extremely well composed and stable. The focus throw of the lens is perfect for portraits along with landscape images.
What we aren’t fond of this Minolta MC ROKKOR X model is the limited aperture setting of the lens. Instead of giving a wide range of settings, the aperture takes a big jump; for example, it goes from f/1.7 to f/2.8, which ultimately reduces your control and possibilities.
Like the previous lenses, the flare resistance of this lens is not very good. However, compared to the previous models, the veiling flare and ghosting isn’t as bad and only occurs in certain conditions.
Amazingly there is barely any barrel distortion caused by the lens. Moreover, there is significantly less vignette even when compared with other better and more expensive lenses.
We were stunned to see that this lens produces very little chromatic aberration, which is almost invisible. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about unwanted streaks of colors ruining your photograph. It is actually one of the best Minolta rokkor lenses for color and clarity.
We certainly loved the background bokeh effect of this quality lens. This lens will beautifully keep the background and foreground out of focus to create the perfect smooth bokeh. However, the lens may struggle to isolate the subject if there are too many things around it, which may result in imperfect or nervous bokeh. Overall, this is possibly one of the best lenses created by Minolta.
Almost everything about this Minolta MC ROKKOR X focus lens is a hit, especially since it’s a vintage lens. It is the best Minolta portrait lens which blends the background perfectly. It is full of great features, such as the ability to capture sharp images to create smooth bokeh.
The sharpness of the image changes with different aperture settings and isn’t as great as some of the other Minolta lenses. Also, the limited aperture setting is a big letdown too.
Best Minolta Lenses Buying Guide
There are certain things you need to keep in mind to get the best vintage Minolta lenses. As it’s a vintage lens, and it may not be compatible with every camera body out there. Let’s take a look at some of those features you should be aware of.
Mount of the Minolta AF Lenses
A mount is a bond between a lens and a camera. Almost all the camera manufacturers have their own lens mount that isn’t usually compatible with other brands. Most Minolta lenses have an SLR mount, which is compatible with Minolta and Sony Alpha.
This limits the compatibility of Minolta lenses to Minolta and Sony Alpha camera bodies. However, luckily for us, there are mount adapters available in the market, which can be added to a lens to make it compatible with almost any camera body.
That being said, mount adapters may affect the image quality, and not all adapters work as effectively. Thus, we recommend using Minolta lenses either with their camera body or with Sony Alpha.
Stabilization & Shutter Speed
The job of stabilization is to reduce the effects of camera shake, thereby allowing the use of decreased shutter speed. Depending on the manufacturer, the stabilization is present either in the lens or the camera body.
While some of the Minolta lenses have built-in stabilization, but, that can’t be said for all of them. That is why pairing it with a camera such as Sony Alpha is a good choice. The Sony Alpha offers body-based stabilization, which is great because it will automatically give the lens used stabilization.
The Functionality of the Lens
Features of the lenses vary in different types of lenses. Like the features of the Minolta lenses will be different from Nikon D7000 lenses.
This goes without saying that you need to check if all functions of the lens work properly. As these are vintage lenses, some of the features may not work as well as it used it, if at all.
Therefore, before confirming your purchase, we advise you to first check the lens for scratches, dents, or anything that may indicate that the lens went through rough use. Next, you should check the optics to look out for dust and fungus as vintage lenses tend to develop fungus with age.
After that, you should look out for loose joints. This step is often forgotten by most, but the zoom and focusing ring often tend to get loose over time and use. These zoom lenses work better with joints.
Moreover, the best Minolta zoom lens that hasn’t been handled with care and dropped frequently also tends to have loose joints. Thus, it’s a crucial step that you can’t miss.
Finally, you should check and test if the features of the lens still work as well, such as the focus and aperture blades.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why do I need a vintage lens?
Ans: Vintage lenses are the ideal choice if you want to learn the proper concepts of photography. Moreover, these are a lot more affordable compared to most modern lenses. If you are starting street photography, this lens can be a good starter.
Q: How can I take care of the lenses?
Ans: It’s essential to take care of your lenses if you want them to last forever. We suggest you carefully wipe and clean your lenses regularly and keep them free from dust, condensation, and fungus.
Q: Is there any way I can avoid having flares in my pictures?
Ans: There are multiple ways to avoid lens flares. You can use a lens hood, filter thread, or simply block the sun using your hands or any other object you prefer.
Q: Can I use lens filters with these lenses?
Ans: As these are old lenses, not all of the Minolta lenses are compatible with filters. That being said, some of the lenses do come with filter thread that you can change! Also, if you want to do macro photography with a macro setting, things cannot be done with this lens.
Q: Will it be an issue if I use these lenses with DSLRs?
Ans: Unfortunately, most DSLRs don’t support the SLR mounts that Minolta lenses have. Some of these can be used with film cameras, but not with DSLR. So, you do have the option to get it fit by using a lens-less adapter ring or an adapter. Nonetheless, adapters do not guarantee that the lens will work properly with the camera body.
We hope we were able to inform you about the best Minolta lenses available in the market with our honest reviews. Vintage lenses are a great way to start off the journey to photography, and these Minolta lenses are the perfect solution.
Not only do they provide an array of choices and are of great quality, but they’re also super affordable! Best of luck with your new lens!