I have owned the Canon FD 2.8/20 for about a year now and I am mostly happy with it’s performance. Now I got the chance to test it against the smaller and lighter Minolta MD 20mm 1:2.8. So, how do they compare?
Okay, everybody is talking about how manual lenses work so well on the Sony a7 but how does it actually work? What can I expect?
Read on if you want to know.
Why should I use manual lenses?
They can be very cheap, you can get a great 1.4/50 lens for $50. For most applications such a lens will give you 90% of the performance of a $1000 Zeiss 1.8/55 FE. For the price of that Zeiss lens you can buy an excellent set of five lenses from 24 to 300mm.
You have a huge choice between thousands of lenses ranging from exotic ones with lots of “character” to modern high performance lenses.
There are 30-year-old primes with better image quality than many modern lenses. Of course there many modern lenses which are better than the best old lenses but even cheap primes are often sharper than very expensive modern zooms.
Old lenses are usually beautifully built and more reliable than modern lenses which are full of often failing electronics and complex and easily decentered optical designs.
They also hold their value much better than modern electronic lenses. When I sell a lens I most often get at least what I payed for it, sometimes more.
Manual focusing can be very enjoyable. This certainly depends on application and personality but I for example enjoy working with fully manual lenses a lot more than with AF lenses.
After I published the Minolta List several kind people offered to lent me Minolta lenses so I had a MD 2/85 and MC 1.7/85 plus several of my own lenses and made this test to see where the strengths and weaknesses of each lens are.
All ebay links are affiliate links and it is appreciated if you use them, it helps me to keep this site running.
I also tested foreground bokeh but the differences here were less noticeable The reason might be that my test setup wasn#t very good. You can find it here.