I spent a day at the zoo this week with a Sony A7 II and only one lens: the Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm f2.
When I was a kid growing up, all the adult men in my extended family had 35mm SLR cameras, external flashes, the works. I’m not sure if any of them were ever any good with said equipment, but they always put on a show of this gear at family gatherings.
My father was no exception. We didn’t have a lot of money, and his camera bag reflected this. The camera, a Minolta X-700, was decidedly downmarket from the Nikon and Canon SLR’s that others had. And his lenses were from the bargain end of the catalog.
When I was a teenager, I had a chance to take a photography class. I asked if I could use my father’s Minolta and there was no chance I was getting my hands on it. I also had no chance of getting a student camera of my own. Somehow I fumbled through that class with a 35mm point & shoot camera. But I did learn how to develop my own black & white film, and create prints. Not all was lost.
Fast forward many years. I’ve got a family of my own now, and I’ve gotten quite serious about my love for photography. I think my father was cleaning out the closet or something and ran into his old camera bag. It ended up in my care. The Minolta X-700 camera body worked fine after I replaced the battery. The lenses were stored without caps so I cleaned them up and got new caps for them. All of his lenses were downmarket lenses, some were even lower end third-party lenses. But I was curious about one of them in particular: the 50mm f2.
50mm lenses seem difficult to screw up, especially if they are not particularly fast. eBay has these things selling for $20-30 a pop and they seem plentiful. Can it really be that bad? I resigned myself to find out.
So I took the 50mm f2 lens to the zoo with no other lenses to choose from. For the camera body, I recently picked up an old full frame Sony A7 II camera body for a good price just for working with vintage manual focus lenses. I really prefer shooting Fuji camera bodies usually, but the crop sensor does take some of the character away from these old lenses.
Overall I was pleased with how well this lens works. It’s small and easy to use, and it’s sharp, even wide open. The bokeh can be a little busy, but nothing too bad. It’s even better when stopped down to f/4-5.6.
These images were shot RAW and postprocessed in Lightroom. I did use VSCO on most of the images I took this day for final color treatment (which I don’t usually do with my Fuji).