Minolta 35mm f/2.0 on A99ii Review (vs. RX1R)

_I forgot to take photo of the Minolta 35mm f/2.0 so I had borrow it from [Kurt Munger](http://kurtmunger.com/minolta_af_35mm_f_2_reviewid204.html) review article, sorry about that_

Three weeks ago, a new friend, Anh Pham, gave me his beloved lens (the Minolta 35mm f/2.0) to me so I could use it. After some days usage, I would like to say I was impressed with the Minolta performance. I decide to compare it with the Sony RX1R, a modern full-frame camera, with the same focal length and aperture (35mm f/2.0). Let see how the Minolta performs to know as if it is on par with the RX1R or not.

To compare between the Minolta 35mm f/2.0 on A99ii and the RX1R, I resize the Minolta photos from 42 mpx to 24mpx. The Minolta 35mm images were applied RX1R correction profile.

I love to take pictures at wide open, so the sharpness at f/2.0 is very important to me, I used the RX1R for more than a year and I love it more than any other lens + body combination, even when using the Sony A7Rii + FE 35mm f/1.4, I still prefer the RX1R.

How I test the Minolta

  1. Minolta vs RX1R – Test shots at home
  2. Minolta – Real world
  3. Recap

Minolta vs RX1R

Let get start with some test shots I took at home:

Full size: Min35, RX1R

The main subject in the first photo is a small sprinkler, the RX1R has better photo on this test, at f/2.0, the DOF of RX1R is thicker than the Minolta 35mm. May be the Minolta 35mm f/2.0 has front focus problem, so I did some micro adjustment after this shot. The sharpness is quite the same on the two photos. I can’t see the different in color rendering.


Full size: Min35 and RX1R

At this photo, the RX1R outperform the Minolta in term of center sharpness at f/2.0. The text on the shampoo bottle is clearer on RX1R’s photo. Again the DOF is quite different between the two lenses, there is more DOF on the RX1R.


Full size: Minolta, RX1R

RX1R still win with this photos, the micro contrast is better on the RX1R photo. The Minolta is very good indeed, however, it is not as good as the RX1R.

One thing, that the Minolta is better than the RX1R, is the ability to get close shot without switching to macro mode. On the RX1R, you have to switch to macro mode before getting close shot. However, at f/2.0, the RX1R is still the winner.

Full size: Minolta and RX1R

I realized that the RX1R allow more light coming to the sensor than the Minolta. With the same condition, at f/2.0, A Mode, the shutter speed on RX1R is higher than the A99ii, but the ISO on RX1R is just 100 vs. 125 on A99ii.

I used the two camera to shoot a building at f/9.0 and f/10.

The center:


The corner:


Full size: Minolta and RX1R

The RX1R photo has more blue, or higher saturation that the Minolta’s photo. However, I prefer the Minolta’s photo, it’s more real. In term of sharpness, the two lenses have the same center sharpness. The RX1R has better corner sharpness than the Minolta. However, the corner sharpness is still very good on the Minolta’s photo.

Ok, so the RX1R has better quality on f/2.0, but is the Minolta 35mm at f/2.0 is useless? No, not at all, to me, the Minolta 35mm f/2.0 is an amazing lens and very suitable for street photography or documentary photography. And, if you are not a pixel peeper, and don’t have a RX1R, you will not have any better choice on Sony A-Mount or even E-mount. The FE 35mm f/1.4 is big and bulky. The FE 35mm f/2.8 is small and light weight but it can not be at f/2.0. And using Minolta in real world at f/2.0 really amazed me. A 30 years old lens is on par with a modern lens like RX1R. You may know that the RX1R has the top 35mm f/2.0 lens and it’s a no-compromise camera like a Leica Q. So, the Minolta may have some weakness when comparing with the RX1R, but it is still in the wish list for many a-mount users.

Mounted on A99ii, the Minolta delivers fast AF and quite silent focus. It has a screw drive motor inside for AF, but it doesn’t affect much when I used if for street photography.

Full size: Minolta and RX1R

Comparison may make you disappointed, but seeing the whole photo will make you happy with the Minolta photo:

Actually, when stop down to f/2.8, the sharpness is better, and at f/4.0, the Minolta has the same sharpness with RX1R.

f/2.8 vs f/2.0

f/4 vs f/2.0

f/2, f/2.8 and f/4

So, if you are a pixel peeper, stop it down to f/2.8 or f/4 to get the better sharpness.

The Minolta lens is very good for 42MPX sensor like the A99ii. You can crop at 1:1 and use it on facebook and your crop photos still can beat the others.

Boy child

Well, look at this photo, I think we can forget the RX1R for a while and enjoy the Minolta photos. I’m amazed with the eyes of the boy child.

A wall

The boy

Straight out from the camera, the photos colors are rich you can use it right away without any modification. The color tone in Minolta is warmer when comparing with RX1/FE lenses.

Taken picture in direct sunlight will create some green fringing.

Direct Sunlight 1

Sometime, the lens cannot control flare.

At 7pm without any additional light, I can still capture the details from faraway

And get more details with ambient light

The sharpness is still very high in low light, this is what I really want for a 35mm lens. The minolta 35mm f/2.0 is superb for low light street photography (like the RX1R). The photo below is not retouched or modified


Lastly, the bokeh delivered by Minolta is smoother than the RX1R, however, RX1R produces rounded bokeh with some onion rings, the Minolta produces cat-eye bokeh.

Minolta real-world usage

Now let enjoy the photos taken with Minolta in real world. All photos were edited by using Lightroom.


See the street photos I took with Minolta lens? Do you love them?

To me, I’m totally satisfy with the Minolta lens. It’s better than all 35mm A-mount lenses I have ever used (Sony 35mm f/1.4, Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4). It’s not as good as the RX1R when you try too pixel peep at f/2.0. However, it delivers mostly that an RX1R can deliver. I love this lens. And if I have to recommend an 35mm lens for A-mount/E-mount users, I will advice them to consider the Minolta 35mm f/2.0, a true gem for Sony photographers.