Affordable manual lenses for the Sony Alpha 7,7r,7ii,7rii and 7s

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This is a collection of good manual lenses which are available for less than $100, it is meant as a resource for photographers who own a Sony a7/ a7r/ a7ii/ a7rII and want to discover the world of manual lenses without breaking the bank.

To learn more about a lens please check one of my reviews or follow the linked test. You will find the average price for a copy in good condition in the description for each lens.

All links market with a * are affiliate links. If you use them I will receive a small commission on your purchase without any additional cost to you. So if you found this article helpful using them is a great way to show your support. Thanks! 

You can find this article in German on phillipreeve.de.

Wideangle lenses

Canon nFD 2.8/24

Canon_nFD_24mmf2p8-6This would be my suggestion for someone looking for a small, sharp and affordable wideangle lens to take landscape images.
Weaknesses are mustache distortion and mediocre built quality.

240g | $85 | my Review | sample images

buy from ebay* | adapters on amazon*

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Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24 | f/11 | full resolution

Olympus OM 3.5/28

I haven’t used this lens myself (yet) but going by other photographers results it delivers a very even sharpness across the frame. It is also small and very affordable.

180g | $35 | MTF Measurements | another test | sample images

buy from ebay* | adapters on amazon*

Minolta MD 2.8/35

DSC09971-2This is a very sharp lens which also happens to be very small and affordable. It has quite a bit of field curvature.

170g | $60 | my reviewsample images

buy from ebay* | adapters on amazon*

DSC09959
Sony a7 | Minolta MD 2.8/35 | f/8 | full resolution

Canon nFD 2.8/35

DSC09969This is a very sharp lens which also happens to be very small and affordable. Downsides are average build quality and only 5 aperture blades.

165g | $50 | sample images

buy from ebay* | adapters on amazon*

DSC00434
Sony a7 |Canon nFD 2.8/35 | f/8 | full resolution

Normal Lenses

Canon new FD 1.4/50

DSC04008At f/1.4 it is the sharpest ~50mm lens I have used so far. I think it is a very good lens to get started with. The field of view is handy for many applications and the fast aperture allows you to create images with very little depth of field. Bokeh is okay but not great and you need to stop down to f/5.6 for very good corner sharpness.

235g | $50 | my Review | sample images

buy from ebay* | adapters on amazon*

DSC09008
Sony a7 | Canon nFD 1.4/50 | f/2 | full resolution

Minolta MC/MD Rokkor 1.4/50

Not as sharp as the Canon at f/1.4 but I think it has nicer bokeh at f/2. The older MC version is heavier and feels more solid than the younger MD versions. There are three optically different versions but the differences are not big enough to worry about them.  Weaknesses are only six aperture blades and you need to stop the down to f/5.6 or better f/8 for very good corners.

245g | $60 | my unfinished Review | sample images

buy from ebay* | adapters on amazon*

Minolta MD Rokkor 1.4/50 | f/2
Minolta MD Rokkor 1.4/50 | f/2

Minolta MD 2/50

DSC09961I haven’t used an affordable 50mm lens with more even sharpness than this, the corners at faster apertures are much better than with other versions. My choice for a hinking lens  when a small size and good sharpness matter. Built quality and bokeh are okay but not great.

150g | $25 | my Review | sample images

buy from ebay* | adapters on amazon*

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Sony a7 | Minolta MD 2/50 | f/8 | full resolution

Sigma 2.8/50 Macro

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About any manufacturer like Minolta, Canon or Olympus sold a 3.5/50 Macro back in the day and any of those is a good buy. The Sigma is in the same league optically but it is a bit faster and most importantly it does 1:1, not 1:2 like all the other macros. The build quality is clearly worse than that of the major brands.

310g | $45 |sample images

buy from ebay*

Sony a7 | Sigma 2.8/50 Macro | f/2.8
Sony a7 | Sigma 2.8/50 Macro | f/5.6

Minolta MC Rokkor 1.7/55

Minolta MC 1.7/55 Sony a7

Not the sharpest lens but sharp enough and it has very nice character and build quality. My choice when I want a small normal lens with good bokeh.

230g | $20 | my Review | sample images

buy from ebay* | adapters on amazon*

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Sony a7 | Minolta MC 1.7/55 | f/1.7 | full resolution

Tele Lenses

Minolta MC Rokkor 2.5/100

Minolta MC 2.5/100

Great bokeh and good sharpness at f/2.5 make this a very enjoyable portrait lens. Built quality is great and it isn’t too large. The only real weakness of this lens is that  it is very sensitive to flare.

410g | $90 | my Review | sample images

buy from ebay* | adapters on amazon*

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Sony a7 | Minolta MC 2.5/100 | f/2.5 | full resolution

Minolta MD Rokkor 2.8/135

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It doesn’t set any records but it is a solid lens very well suited for portraits.

535g | $60 |  sample images

buy from ebay* | adapters on amazon*

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Sony a7 | Minolta MD 2.8/135 | f/2.8 | full resolution

Canon FD 2.8/135

DSC09965If you are looking for a very affordable portrait lens this is a good choice, bokeh and sharpness are good (but not great). Built quality isn’t great but good enough. 

395g | $50 | sample images

buy from ebay* | adapters on amazon*

DSC00578
Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/135 | f/2.8

Minolta MC Rokkor 4/200

DSC09966I was surprised how sharp this lens is across the frame from f/4, a great solution for landscape photography. The lens feels very solid but the rather stiff focusing ring makes it less ideal for moving subjects. I also don’t care for the very obvious CA outside of the focal plane and it’s proneness to flare.

520g | $35 | sample images

buy from ebay* | adapters on amazon*

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Sony a7 | Minolta MC 4/200 | f/4 | full resolution

Zoom lenses

Minolta MD 3.5/35-70 Macro

DSC09968A useful focal range and a handy 1:4 macro-mode make this a very vesatile lens. In the 40-70mm range it is as sharp as a good prime lens at f/8, only at 35mm the corners are a bit soft. Contrast and bokeh benefit noticeably from stopping down to f/5.6 and distortion at 35mm is  a bit high.

365g | $60| my Review | sample images

buy from ebay* | adapters on amazon*

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Sony a7 | Minolta MD 3.5/35-70 | 35mm | f/11

Minolta MD 4/75-150

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A small tele-zoom which is as sharp as the corresponding primes, only at 150mm it get a little softer towards the corners. Weaknesses are some distortion and CA outside of the focal plane.

445g | $30 | sample images

buy from ebay* | adapters on amazon*

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Sony a7 | Minolta MD 4/75-150 | 75mm | f/8 | full resolution

How a lens gets onto this list

To make it into this list I must have either personally used a lens or someone else must have published a well done test and some full resolution images.

I will only add lenses which meet my subjective criteria for a good lens and I want to avoid having too many very similar lenses in this selection.

If you think I have missed a lens please tell me about it! But don’t forget to link to meaningful tests and full resolution sample images.

Further Links

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I like to be outside with my camera and I am also a gear head with a love for manual lenses.

109 thoughts on “Affordable manual lenses for the Sony Alpha 7,7r,7ii,7rii and 7s”

  1. Hi,
    Nice article, great pictures.
    Can someone tell me how do these glasses compares to the Minolta AF glasses ?. I have the 20 f2.8, 24 f2.8, 28 f2.8 and 50 mm f2.8.

  2. Hello
    I do own a wide set of Canon FD lenses (from 20mm to 500mm) that I use on A7R.
    While me expensive, here is a quick list of my favorites FDn lenses I own: 20-35mm f/3.5 L, 28mm f/2, 35mm f2.0 (the f/2.8 is very good too), 85mm f/1.2L (expensive but just amazing) and f/1.8, 100mm f/2, 80-200 f/4L, 50mm f/3.5 macro. The 50mm f/1 4 is good. The 24mm f/2 and f/2.8 are also good but I prefer the L zoom.
    I have performed imatest tests of those as well as comparison shots. They confirm this selection.
    Have a good day
    Raoul

  3. Love your images and great effort. Have you tried the Nikkor lenses? I have 2 versions of 50mm 1.8 and a 135mm 2.8 manual focus. My own test beats a Takumar 55mm f2 and Pentax 50mm 1.4. Would appreciate some comments.

    1. I’m researching it right now, and… no. The only cheap 85mm is Jupiter-9. All the other good ones are at $200 and up 🙁 like Nikkor 85mm 1.8 H.C. for example.

  4. I highly recommend the fdn 200/4. Short mfd for a 200 and pleasingly sharp wide open (and weighs very little, which is a bonus). The fdn 100/4 macro is also a great performer for the money…

  5. You have a Flickr album with the Canon FD 80-200 F4L (beautiful pictures by the way!…), but I can’t see any review of it on your blog. Do you still own it? Is it a good lens?… I guess it worths more than 100 euros… Is it why you did not put it here?…

    1. Hi Phillip,

      I have picked up a few Tokina manual lenses including a Tokina 100-300/f4, 80-200/f2.8, 400/f5.6 and also a 150-500/f5.6 . Looking forward to your findings on the canon 80-200/f4.

      BTW, I am still unsuccessful with figuring out the pixel shimmering method of focusing. I wonder if you have tried that on the A7RII?

      Thanks,
      Rajesh

  6. I recommend the Zenit 58mm F2, The lens was made in the former soviet union (I got my copy with an old film camera they made in the 80s that I like to use as a prop as well as being a neat historical item) The lens itself was based on an old Zeiss design from before WWII. When the Soviets invaded Germany during the war they procured Zeiss’s equipment and produced the lens for decades.

    1. I own that lens and I think it is an interesting one, mostly because of it’s swirly bokeh. But I think it is interesting because of it’s character, not because it is a very good lens. If I ever publish a list of character lenses then I will certainly include it.

  7. What do you think about old Pentax lenses? I still have , from my very first camera outfit, a Pentax-M 75-150 f4 / 135 f2.5 / 50 f1.7 / 28 f2.8. I recently bought a Sony A6000 to see if I liked the Sony brand. I love it and will be buying the A7ll or A7Rll. Just wondering if these old Pentax lenses are still sharp enough ? Thanks

  8. Nice list. I recently inherited that Minolta MD 50mm f/2. I’ve been dying to try it out on my a7II. Looks like your little review just pushed me off the fence about buying another adapter.

  9. Newbie question: I have some manual lenses but gave up due to things like curvature and distortion. What is the best way to identify such things in Lightroom and then automate the correction?

  10. Hallo,
    what type of adapter do you use for the MC/MD leses?
    There are many different types on the market but they mostly say that they work with the NEX camaras and may have problems with the A7 series, in particular with the Mark 2 types?
    Can anybody recommend an adapter which definitely works with the A7 II or A7r II?
    Thanks for info!
    Manfred

    1. The Novoflex adapter works fine with my a7ii. All my other adapters are no-name-adapters. I am pretty sure that people will mention on Amazon if an adapter doesn’t work with the second generation of a7 cameras.

  11. I found a couple of ebay listings for the minolta md 135 2.8, but they seem to have different manufacturers – what does this mean?

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Minolta-MD-Mount-F2-8-135mm-Telephoto-Zoom-X370-X570-X700-XD-XE-XG1-XG7-XG9-XGM-/161793571715?hash=item25aba5fb83:g:~LIAAOSwd0BVzRDW

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Minolta-MD-Mount-Focal-135mm-1-2-8-Lens-/321841424791?hash=item4aef3e6997:g:0ZwAAOSwgQ9V2eTG

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/MINOLTA-MD-TELE-ROKKOR-X-135mm-f2-8-for-mirrorles-cameras-JAPAN-EXCELLENT-/221962307673?hash=item33adfc0859:g:HdQAAOSwnipWYGRw

    The Minolta branded ones are quite a bit more expensive – is it worth it to go for one of those? What are these 3rd party branded lenses?

    thanks!
    Mike

  12. Great reviews. Just to add a lens in here. The Pentax super takumar 50mm f1.4. It’s a very good lens and works perfectly with my new a7. Paid £60 on fleabay and it’s awesome. Got a k&f concept adapter from Amazon for £10 and all works great. Thanks for the info.

  13. This is so difficult t make suggestions as prices vary so much on Ebay. Got a Minolta Rokkor 100mm f4 macro for 64€ including freight but they can be 3 times this price, the rokkor 24mm f 2.8 at 75 € was hardly more and the 135mm f 2.8 even less (50+10€). The 28mm f 2.0 did not make the “cheap” cut at 110€ though. On the other hand, I paid far too much for the 85mm f 2.0 at 300€ (I had not planned for Customs as I bought it from Japan…) as expensive as the 200 mm f2.8… from Germany.
    Patience and taking opportunities are the rules of the game… but I am now done with it.

  14. Hey, first and fullmost your reviews are priceless and thank you so much for the time and effort you put into them. So i have two questions for you… My first question is will you do a review for the Minolta 35mm F/2.8? I notice the link for that lens directs to the Canon 35mm F/2.8, i guess because they are very similar but it would be nice to have a review solely based on the Minolta 35mm F/2.8. Now my second question for you is these are ‘budget’ manual lenses but what would ultimetly be the best of the best manual lens while still sticking to the ‘older’ or ‘vintage’ lenses that you have used regardless of budget for landscapes? You recommend the Canon 24mm F/2.8 the best budget manual lens for landscape so in your opinion what manual lens out does that lens regardless of budget? 🙂 I hope to hear a reply from you and just to note this would be for my Sony Alpha A7.

      1. Thanks for getting back to me. I looked it up but it looks pretty modern to me. Is there an older ‘vintage’ version of the Zeiss C/Y 2.8/21 you are referring to? I was talking about older manual lenses like the lenses on this article but the best one for landscapes. 🙂

          1. Haha i’m sorry i couldn’t tell. When i searched that lens a really modern looking black lens came up and an older silver coloured lens, so i wasn’t sure. But thank you for the suggestion. 🙂

  15. Hi Philip, sir, thank you so much for doing this, I must have spent days, long hours, trying to decide which way to go as I “believe” in the vintage lenses but the flare in most of them is a stopper for me. So again, thank you for doing this. While I am not too impressed with the Minolta ones, I think I will build a collection of FDs and Zeiss ones..

    1. You are not impressed with the Minolta lenses he mentioned? I’m suprised! I’ve taken breathtaking landscapes with my Minolta MD 35mm F/2.8, yes i know it’s 35mm and not 20mm lens or around 20mm which is where it should really be to qualify as a ‘wide angle’ but nonetheless i would have to disagree with you. That being said, modern day lenses will always suit me better personally.

  16. At present, I have a Sony A7 and Canon 24-105 lens.
    Please provide any tips /techniques that will make manual focusing
    easier.

  17. Thanks for wonderful blog. I am just happy new owner of A7.
    I would like to buy some good not-expensive portrait lens. What would you suggest : CANON FD 50 MM f/1.4 vs SLR Magic Cine 50mm f/1.1 ?
    Cine is more epensive(350$) but with aperture rotating smoothly just like the focus ring + f/1.1 + E-mount.
    As I am just rookie I do not know if this advantage is wort money diference.
    Small review:http://chphotovideo.com/example-shots-50mm-slr-magic-f1-1-canon-fd-f1-4-leica-r-f2/
    Thanks for your hep.

    1. Sounds like a renamed Zeiss Ultron 1.8/50. There were 3 series. The second series is the best. I have 2 German Zeiss Ultron, one in M42 and one in BM mount. They are among my favorite “normal” lenses, mainly for their bokeh, small size and weight, but quite expensive.

      My other favorite is the Contax N Zeiss Planar 1.4/50. It is extremely sharp even at f/1.4 and has fantastic bokeh. However, it weighs a ton and looks like it. With the FRINGER adapter, the Contax-N lenses will autofocus on the A7RMkII.

      The Contax N Zeiss are all excellent but expensive, light years ahead of the C/Y or Rollei Zeiss.

  18. Thanks a ton for compiling this article. It has been the starting point for my manual lens collection on a Sony mirror less camera.

  19. Thanks for the reviews Phillip. I’m new to manual lenses. Would I be able to use the Olympus OM 3.5/28 lens (and the adapter you listed) on a Sony Alpha a6000? Thanks!

      1. Thanks for getting back to me. Have you written anything or could you point me toward recommendations on affordable manual lenses for the a6000? Wide angle specifically.

  20. Hello Phillip. I have consistently used your site for reference, whilst buying lenses on eBay for my Sony a6000. Your sample images are superb and inspirational in quality , they have given me the confidence to invest in Minolta as a good entry to the vintage lens market .
    However, being based in the UK and shopping on eBay.co.uk I’m not sure that any affiliate money is going to get to you . How bout a donate button ?

  21. I just ran across your excellent blog and wish I had seen it sooner. I bought an A7 body about 1-1/2 years, ago at what was then a great price, I upgraded from a NEX6. I have bought and sold many different lenses on eBay and I discovered that to my eye, there was no difference between the lenses I now have and the Leicas and Voigtlanders I tried at first. I evolved a lens acquisition strategy which is to spend less than $100 on any lens. My favorites lenses now are a Canon FDn 24mm f2.8, Konica Hexanon AR 40mm f1.8, Takumar SMC 55mm f2, Nikon E 100mm f2.8, and a Carl Zeiss Jena 135mm f3.5. I also have a Canon EF 28-135mm zoom that has image stabilization, the autofocus speed is so-so but when it locks, its is spot on. I set the big button in the middle to focus magnification, I can always find it without looking when I am composing a shot through the viewfinder.

  22. Hi Phillip,

    Thanks for your continuously excellent work. Is it possible you can provide a link to the uk ebay for the Sigma 2.8/50 Macro?

  23. Great thanks! I’ve got a Canon FD 50mm 1.4 SSC (that one with the older breech lock mount) and i think that it´s very glow and not very sharp at maximun aperture. Stopped down is amazing. Do you think that de FDn version is better than the S.S.C. version? wich Minolta 50mm 1.4 version do you recomend: rokkor, rokkor-x or rokkor-pg? and another question: do you recomend FD 35mm f2? or exist any minolta version better than FD out there?

    Sorry for making too much questions… and thanks!!

    1. I have never used the 1.4/50 SSC but going by your description I would say that the nFD 1.4/50 is better that that, just check the full resolution images in my review.

      All those names were used for the very same lens: Rokkor-X was the name for the American market and the PG was dropped during production of the very first version the MC 1.4/50. It is the most solid but optically all Minolta 1.4/50 are very similar. The older MC is a bit heavier and feels more solid.

      I think the Minolta 1.8/35 is less sharp but has nicer bokeh than the Canon FD 2/35 lenses

  24. Hi, Phillip!
    Been enjoying your reviews on manual lens which made me buying a Canon FD 50mm for my A7 few weeks ago. It’s been great for me as a newbie.
    I’m interested in shooting wildlife, but I only have around $200 to spend. I wonder if you have suggestion what tele lens should I buy, something like 200mm or 300mm.
    Apart from that, I’m also considering to buy a Hoya HMC 135mm F2.8 because the seller offers pretty good bargain.
    Thanks.

      1. Hi, Phillip. I found a tamron for adaptall mount but I’m not sure about what adapter should I buy. I only found adaptall 2, meanwhile the lens is for adaptall (without 2) mount. I havent found any clear cut explanation on whether or not I can use an adaptall 2 adapter for my a7.
        Thanks.

  25. Thanks for the wonderful blog post.

    Can you recommend anything in the ultra wide angle that is good and affordable?

    I am looking for a prime somewhere around 17mm

    (for instance, a 16mm or a 17mm or an 18mm, but I think 16 or 17 would be better than 18mm)

    I know there is an older Canon fd mount at 17mm but I have READ that it is not so good, and it is sold used for about $300 (no actual experience with it).

    Thanks in advance.

      1. Thank you!

        I will look into it.

        BTW: Prices seem to be going up quite a bit (at least here in the States) on the older Mnolta and Canon lenses.

  26. Hi there!!!, I have minolta 58 1.2 and love it, but is not to sharp at 1.2, what do you think image quality vs canon 1.4 or another minolta 1.2. or 1.4
    thank you very much

  27. You missed one of my ultime
    steals — the Mamiya 55mm f1.8 m42 — damn sharp at f2.8 on up. The Bokeh is lovely.

  28. Hi Phillip,

    Do you have any clue how the Canon nFD 1.4/50 and the Minolta MD 2/50 compare to today’s Canon EF 1.8/50 STM and Sony FE 1.8/50? Especially when they’re wide open 🙂

    Thanks

      1. Really nice comparison! I love the way you can quickly spot the way each lens renders. If you could make some more of these that would be really appreciated.

  29. Hi Phillip,

    First of all, thanks for all your work here and all your effort!

    I’ve a long Canon shooter but after I’ve bought a Sony a6000 for my travels (and thinking about a A7 mk2 in the future) I started to search for old MF lenses.

    Any recommendation for the focal between 100 and 200mm? Something to include a good Macro lens too?

    Canon FDN 200/4 and Canon 100/4 Macro or even the FD 135/28 maybe?

    What you recommend?

  30. I bought the sigma 2.8/50 based on this article but unsure what adapter I need. Can you help point me in the right direction?

      1. Appreciate the help! I bought it out of impulse and now I’m kind of concerned, since I don’t know how I’m gonna figure out which adapter I need. Can I have your email address to send you a picture?

  31. Fantastic write up, thank you. Just ordered the MC 50/2 to try for landscapes.

    Any suggestions for a super wide (15mm or so) fast lens (prefer F2 or better vs F2.8) for night and Aurora photography? Would generally be shooting wide open and still be hoping for sharpness across the frame. I’ve seen a newer option is the Samyung 14mm f2.8 at about $350. That’s manual focus anyway so if there a cheaper or sharper lens you suggest?

  32. PhIlllp how would these lenses hold up on shooting film? is there any website or link that you would recommend? Love the blog sir, keep it up!

  33. Thanks for the list. I am wondering if you have has a chance to use a MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 lens? I have read and seen some pretty strong reviews for this lense, particularly regarding sharpness. I am a novice and just getting in to adapting manual vintage lenses to my a6000, let’s just say that I’ve caught the bug. Any thoughts on the 45mm rokkor-x? With the asp-c adjustment in range I’ll also need a shorter distance lens for indoors, 24-35mm, IL likely end up with a few with a little luck at my local thrift stores, fingers crossed….

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