35mm Shoot-out
 
 
Four Minolta 35mm Lenses Compared
 
 
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The lenses have been tested for sharpness at differing apertures, as well as distortion and light falloff. As a result, the information below should provide a good indication of performance.
 
 
 
   

35mm f/2.8 Shift CA @ f/2.8

   
 
Above you can see the image that I used for the tests. Hopefully it is a little more interesting than a test chart, and will provide a realistic indication of how the lenses will perform in the real world. On the picture in the centre and on the right hand side you can see three small red squares that indicate the areas I have cropped for the resolution samples below.

In the 100% crops shown below, the top image is from the centre of the frame, the centre image is from the right hand edge of the frame, and the bottom crop is from the upper-right corner. The samples below are actually approximately 0.5mm x 0.7mm on the original negative. No sharpening, ICE or grain management has been used for these scans, which were conducted at 5400 dpi, no multipass, 8 bit.

 
 
Performance at f/2.8
 
 

MD f/1.8 @ f/2.8

MD f/2.8 @ f/2.8
 
Shift CA f/2.8 @ f/2.8
 
 
 

   
 

As far as centre sharpness goes, the 35mm f/1.8 MD W.Rokkor-X and the 35mm f/2.8 MD Rokkor appear equally sharp at f/2.8, a great result for the f/2.8 lens which is competing wide open against the f/1.8 which is closed down by over a stop at this aperture. The 35mm f/2.8 Shift CA Rokkor is not as sharp at f/2.8, but sharpness is still very good considering the lens is wide open.

However, the other crops tell a different story. At the sides of the image, the Shift CA clearly stands out, as one would expect from this lens which is designed to cast a much larger image circle than the other lenses. After the shift I feel that the cheaper f/2.8 lens appears to have sharpest side detail.

Given the balance between centre and edge sharpness, I would say that based upon these crops the 35mm f/2.8 MD W.Rokkor is the clear leader in resolution at f/2.8 - wide open!

 
 
Performance at f/4
 
 

MD f/1.8 @ f/4

MD f/2.8 @ f/4
 
Shift CA f/2.8 @ f/4

28-85mm f/3.5-f/4.5 @ f/3.5

 
 
 

 
 

At f/4 the real surprise of the group is the performance of the 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5 MD Zoom. Actually to say that I am surprised by its performance is an understatement. At 35mm this lens is a real eye-opener.

Based upon viewing the crops above I feel that the f/1.8 and f/2.8 primes record the best centre sharpness, very closely followed by the zoom and then the Shift CA. However, the zoom's performance is amazing wide open, and I leave it up to the viewer to judge for themselves based upon the crops.

As far as side sharpness, the Shift CA continues to be the star performer, followed by the f/2.8, then the zoom, with the f/1.8 bringing up the rear. The fact that the zoom wide open outperforms the f/1.8 prime stopped down to f/4 is a real achievement, and certainly a result I was not expecting!

 
 
Performance at f/5.6
 
 

MD f/1.8 @ f/5.6

MD f/2.8 @ f/5.6
 
Shift CA f/2.8 @ f/5.6

28-85mm f/3.5-f/4.5 @ f/5.6

 
 
 

 
 
At f/5.6 the centre sharpness of the Shift CA has improved, however the really impressive performer is the zoom, which records centre sharpness on a par with the primes, and better sharpness at the sides of the image than the f/1.8, and similar to the f/2.8 prime.
 
 
Performance at f/8
 
 

MD f/1.8 @ f/8

MD f/2.8 @ f/8
 
Shift CA f/2.8 @ f/8

28-85mm f/3.5-f/4.5 @ f/8

 
 
 

 
 
At f/8 all of the lenses perform well at centre side and corner, with only minor differences between them. Accordingly, at the 'sweet-spot' f/8 aperture commonly used for landscape and architectural photography, all four of the lenses will deliver fine performance.
 
   
 
35mm f/2.8 MD W.Rokkor, 4 seconds at f/8. Film: Fuji Superia Reala
 
     
 
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