The MD 28 mm f/2.8 with 7 lens elements is generally considered to be one of Minolta’s best 28 mm, very close to the excellent MC W.Rokkor-SI 28 mm f/2.5 and the MD 28 mm f/2. This “plain MD” f/2.8 without Rokkor in the name was succeeded by an MD 28 mm f/2.8 with nearly identical exterior and naming but simpler optics (5/5) and slightly inferior performance. The 7/7 design tested here can be identified by serial (80xxxxx) and by the fact that there are eight tiny steps between name ring and front lens, whereas the 5/5 design (serial 70xxxxx) only has six of them. You cancompare both designs in Ad Dielemann’s 28 mm gallery.
At slightly less than 190 g, the MD 28 mm f/2.8 is a very light and compact lens. Focus is very smooth – close to what it used to be in the MC-X style lenses – and handling on a NEX-5T is effortless. The effective focal length of 43 mm on APS-C cameras makes the MD f/2.8 a handy normal lens with excellent performance.
Condition of my copy
Optics: Excellent. No scratches, no visible dust.
Mechanics: Excellent. Focus uniform and very smooth, aperture clean and fast.
Exterior: Very good. Some very small scratches in the finishing, otherwise like new.
Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T
The lens starts at f/2.8 with surprisingly good sharpness, no visible haze and only slightly soft corners. At f/4, corner performance catches up and overall contrast improves minimally. Peak sharpness is reached at f/5.6 with very good performance, whilst f/8 is ever so slightly softer due to diffraction. The latter is slightly more pronounced at f/11, visibly softens f/16 and blurs away every detail at f/22.
A slight red and dark cyan glow is visible at f/2.8, but mostly blurred away due to soft corners. From f/4 on, the 28 mm shows medium red/cyan CAs which grow when stopped down up to f/16. Overall, a good but not impressive performance for a wide angle lens.
Vignetting is well controlled with about 1/2 a stop at f/2.8 and practically disappears at f/4. The lens also exhibits a medium barrel distortion of -1.0%. The effective T-stop at f/2.8 is damn close to T2.9 (-0.1 EV), which is excellent.
If you’re in the market for a sharp, contrasty 28 mm and don’t mind a bit of lateral CA, I can recommend the MD 28 mm f/2.8 (7/7) without hesitation. It does not come as a surprise that the Minolta outperforms contemporary zooms like the Vivitar Series 1 28-90 mm f/2.8-3.5. The optical performance of this 28 mm is very good and it also beats direct competitors like the Kiron 28 mm f/2.0 in terms of sharpness, corner performance and especially CAs at every aperture. In exchange, the Kiron is one full f-stop faster. But I would prefer the Minolta for almost any occasion. That it’s pleasantly light and compact doesn’t hurt, either.
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