A history of Sony Alpha - Minolta AF 50 mm f/1.7 versus Sony DT 50 mm f/1.8 SAM

1 December 2009
Szymon Starczewski

1. Introduction

Originally posted 2009-10-28 on Optyczne.pl

Our articles series about the 50th anniversary of the Nikon F mount and the 90th anniversary of the Olympus company were ended by duels between old and new lenses of a given manufacturer. As these duels have proven to be hugely popular among our Readers, we decided to continue them also by a description of the history of the Sony company.

Here the situation is practically even more interesting because we can check how the change of the producer from Minolta to Sony influenced the alpha mount lenses. However, exactly for the same reason the choice of dueling pairs was not as obvious as in the case of Nikon and Olympus.

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Firstly, a part of lenses on the Sony’s offer are just copies of Minolta lenses with the casing and most probably anti-reflective coatings modified. We didn’t want to arrange such duels because they would obviously end in a draw in most test categories. Secondly, a part of new lenses, launched by the Sony company, have no Minolta system equivalents. For example a new Zeiss 16-35 mm f/2.8 must have been paired with a Minolta 17-35 mm f/3.5. Not only we would deal here with a different fastness but also with a different focal lengths range. A Zeiss 24-70 mm f/2.8 would have to face a Minolta 28-70 mm f/2.8G, which is narrower by 4 mm at the very important wide end of the range.

Fortunately, we were finally able to find something. The comparison between a Minolta AF 50 mm f/1.7 and launched not so long ago a Sony DT 50 mm f/1.8 SAM seemed very natural to us. Both lenses represent cheap amateur standard niche and because of their price they are very popular among owners of Minolta and Sony reflex cameras. As the Sony lens is designed to work on a small sensor we decided to test both lenses on a Sony A100 body.

In the case of the Sony DT 50 mmf/1.8 SAM we have no doubt about its production year. The lens was launched in 2009 so the date of production is widely known. The situation is not so clear when it comes to the Minolta AD 50 mm f/1.7 specimen, available to us. We know that it comes from an older series, produced between 1985 and 1989. It differs from the version that has been produced since 1990 : it has a ribbed manual focus ring, a bit differently-looking depth of field scale, other inscriptions on its barrel and a different ribbing pattern at its sides. Anyway the dueling lenses are at least 20 years apart when it comes to the production date.

We would like to thank Mr. Jarosław Kielesiński and the Sony Poland company for lending us the lenses for our duel.

Information about our review method can be read in our article “How do we test lenses?"

A history of Sony Alpha - Minolta AF 50 mm f/1.7 versus Sony DT 50 mm f/1.8 SAM - Introduction