Minolta Maxxum 50mm/f1.7

Posted by kenchill. Categories Photography, Products

I have been using the Sony Alpha A200 with the kit lens (SAL1870, 3.5-5.6/18-70) for the past 2 months and it did prove to be very useful, especially with the extended 70mm range (instead of the usual 50mm range on other kit lens). The only major gripe with the lens is that the f3.5 only applies when it is at 18mm. 1mm more than that and the f-stop goes higher. No problem indeed, f4 or f5.6 is bearable, thanks to the built-in Image Stabilizer (IS, in Sony terms).

The problem arises when taking indoor pictures with poor lighting especially at concerts and gigs where I can’t get up close and personal to take shots. I have to rely on the zoom and this poses 2 problems. Shaking is multiplied when using zoom and the aperture size. Add the extra shake factor with the slow shutter speed (and sometimes crowd movement) and the IS can’t stabilize no more.

After spending quite some time browsing several forums and websites (Dyxum is really good), I came across the KM50, which can then be deciphered into Konica-Minolta 50mm. Which then brings us to the actual product, the Minolta Maxxum 50mm/f1.7, a prime lens. Don’t be surprised. This lens is actually manufactured and released in 1985. YES! It maybe as old as us, or maybe older than some of you readers. If I am not mistaken, it comes with the Minolta Maxxum 7000 SLR camera (Wikipedia entry). Somehow it wasn’t that popular and was chucked into cupboards for storage.

Since the Sony A-series DSLR cameras have the A-mount and are compatible with any A-mount Minolta lenses, the KM50 can be easily used with my Sony Alpha A200, just plug and play. The KM50 is an auto-focus (AF) lens and it works with the Sony A-series DSLR cameras.

So yeah, a 50mm lens with a large aperture. Great for indoor shots and it could also be used as a street lens. I could get a 135mm prime lens, but then again, I am strapped for cash and am looking for something which I can use for a wide range of applications, will specialize later when I get more cash and lens along the way.

I managed to come across a local camera enthusiast who has a couple of Minolta 50mm/f1.7 lenses for sale. After testing out a few of the 50mms that he had brought along (and other lenses such as a 135mm prime which I might buy later), I decided to take the one which costs RM480 (there was a slightly worn one at RM350). The focusing is very smooth and the coating of the lens is perfect. The lens body looks very damn new, no deep scratches or dents. And yes of course, the aperture blades are snappy and smooth. I really wonder how the original owner (or owners) kept this lens in such tip-top condition.

For RM480, I have no complaints at all. And for RM480, I am amazed at its clarity, performance and SPEED. Not to mention that I can inspect all aspects of the lens before purchasing it, unlike eBay (not to say that you can’t get good lenses from there, but there’s the risk).

[The photos of the KM50 lens were taken by the SAL1870 kit lens]

I took quite a lot of photos over the weekend and here are some sample photos to highlight the amazing clarity (ok, it might not match those of professionals) and the ease of putting ONLY your subject in focus. I haven’t mastered its aperture range yet, but I am digging the manual focus (AF sucks at dark lighting, so…). At f1.7, you gotta get the focus right, or else there will be no focus (if you need speed, you got speed!!). It is more forgiving on higher apertures like f2.8 and f3.5. Bokehs are easily done, even at f3.5. But at f1.7 to f2.2, the bokeh is just simply fantastic. Separating your subject from the background/foreground is an easy task with this bugger snapped on your camera.

Night shot (f3.5 1/15)

Kancil speedometer at night (f1.7 1/80)

Indoor shot (f2.2 1/40)

Superbly shallow depth of field (f2.2 1/250)

Slightly higher depth of field (f3.5 1/125)

Kancil oil filter (f2.5 1/200)

A simple macro shot, by ah_mei (f2.2 1/2000 ISO800 lol)


5 Responses to “Minolta Maxxum 50mm/f1.7”

  1. afif - August 3, 2008 / 11:27 am

    if sumhow u wana sell dis lens… contact me aight…


  2. Life in KL » Sony Alpha A300 - September 25, 2008 / 9:44 pm

    [...] does expands when it focuses). I personally have the Minolta 50mm/f1.7 AF lens (original post here: http://www.lifeinkl.com/2008/07/22/minolta-maxxum-50mmf17/) which is superb for low light conditions and also bokeh [...]

  3. Life in KL » Minolta Lenses: Serviced! - September 26, 2008 / 10:50 am

    [...] Before I end this post, here’s picture of my Minolta 50mm/f1.7 lens (read about it here: http://www.lifeinkl.com/2008/07/22/minolta-maxxum-50mmf17/). [...]

  4. chloe - November 10, 2008 / 2:15 pm

    where did u managed to get the 50mm f1.7 lens? mind telling me?

  5. kenchill - November 12, 2008 / 12:53 am

    Do check out dinodino at PhotoMalaysia forums. And do sign up at alphanatics.com as there are quite a lot of lens for sale there!


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