Comparison: Minolta MC 1.2/58 vs Canon FD 1.2/55

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In todays post I compare two super fast lenses from the late 60’s. The Minolta MC 1.2/58 is a legend and priced as such while the Canon isn’t to popular and one of the most affordable f/1.2 lenses out there.

Sample Images

The following three images are processed with identical settings.


Full resolution: Minolta | Canon


Full resolution: Minolta | Canon


Full resolution: Minolta | Canon

Specifications

Minolta MC 1.2/58 Canon FD 1.2/55 S.S.C.
Weight 478 g + Adapter 575 g + Adapter
Dimensions (LxD) 54 mm x 71 mm 53 mm x 761 mm
Number of aperture blades 8 8
Close focusing distance (maximal reproduction ratio) 60 cm 60 cm
Elements/Groups 7/5 7/5
Price (used) ~ $350 ~ $140

The Method

  • Unless mentioned images are raw files from the Sony a7 converted in LR with the default settings.
  • I used a tripod and a 2 seconds timer.
  • To view the images in full resolution check out my Minolta 1.2/58 vs Canon FD 1.2/55 flickr set.
  • I did not recompose to adjust for the slightly shorter focal length of the Canon, this puts it at a slight disadvantage as far as bokeh is concerned but adjusting would have caused a set of other headaches.

Size, Weight and Handling

The Canon is a bit fatter and heavier but the handling of both lenses is very similar. Neither is a small lens.

The Canon has a bit longer focus throw and a bit nice aperture ring. Both offer a pleasant handling experience.

Bokeh and Sharpness

Lets have a look at the bokeh and the central sharpness first.

f/1.2

 


100% crops. Minolta first, then Canon.

The Minolta has quite a bit smoother bokeh but it is not as sharp as the Canon which also has a little higher contrast.

If you move your subject off-center to the crossline of the image thirds the sharpness difference becomes even more obvious:

f/2

 


100% crops. Minolta first, then Canon.

Both lenses improve a lot in bokeh and sharpness. The Minolta still has the smoother bokeh and the Canon is still a tad sharper.

Off-center the sharpness advantage of the Canon is more obvious.

f/2.8

 


100% crops. Minolta first, then Canon.

Both lenses perform on a very high level by now but the pattern continues, the Minolta has still a tad softer bokeh and the Canon is a bit sharper.

At longer distances the sharpness difference gets smaller, the Minolta is quite a bit better at infinity than up close.

Landscape Shooting

By f/8 both lenses show an excellent performance. Only the corners are a tad softer, again the Canon is a bit sharper here but the difference is really minor.

It doesn’t make much sense to show crops here because the difference is so small but if you like to pixel peep, here you go:

Canon FD 1.2/55Minolta MC 1.2/58 | both at f/8

More sample images

 

 

These and many more full resolution images can be found in my Minolta MC 1.2/58 vs Canon FD 1.2/55 flickr set.

Conclusion

Well  that wasn’t the most interesting comparison I have done because it yielded no surprises. But at least I got to know the Canon quite well. The Canon is quite a bit sharper at wider apertures but the Minolta has smoother bokeh but the bigger picture is that performance is rather close. At f/8 both are excellent. Both are rather big and well made lenses. 

I think the Canon offers an excellent price/performance ratio (for a f/1.2 lens) and I am surprised that it sells for less so little. The Minolta is one of my all time favorite lenses but quite expensive for what it does.

The Canon FD 1.2/55 usually (July 2016) sells for about $140 at ebay.com (affilate link).
The Minolta MC 1.2/58 usually (July 2016) sells for about $350 at ebay.com (affilate link).

If this review was helpful to you, please consider using one of my affiliate links. I will earn a small commission on your purchase and it won’t cost you anything. Thanks!

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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.

21 thoughts on “Comparison: Minolta MC 1.2/58 vs Canon FD 1.2/55”

  1. Nice review!
    Any chance to see a review of the Canon 55/1.2 L version?…
    (I know, it’s a bit more exepensive…)

      1. @ Jan Actually, I thought the 50 1.2L WAS the aspherical… Ah ah what a tourist… Thanks for correcting…
        @ Phillip I found many intersting articles comparing Canon 50mm like this one

        http://www.jeroenterlingen.com/blog/2015/7/19/canon-fd-50mm-lens-comparison

        or the Zeiss 55 1.8 with the 50 1.2 L

        http://www.verybiglobo.com/sony-fe-55mm-f1-8-z-vs-canon-fd-50mm-f1-2-l/

        But you’re right… They are expensive… And honestly, comparing ti the FD50 1.4?…

  2. Thx for the review. You are doing a great job with your blog, always enjoy your writings and most of all the photos!

  3. Very interesting comparison Phillip.
    I keep meaning to compare an OM Zuiko 50mm f/1.2, with my MC 58/1.2 (I have an earlier version than yours, with the scalloped metal barrel, though I believe it’s optically the same.)
    The Olympus is appealing as it’s only 285g , 43mm x 65mm, and a 49mm Filter (6:7 construction) How did they manage it! (Even the earlier 55/1.2 version, introduced in 1974 was only 310g, but the 50mm version, introduced in 1982, is supposed to be superior.)
    The big question of course is the bokeh, I’ve heard very mixed reports, which is why I haven’t tried one…yet.

    1. 285g is astonishing, Olympus really knew how to shrink lenses to the essentials.
      Gordon from OM Labor did recommend me the latest version of the OM 1.4/50, do you have any experience with that?

  4. Sorry, I’ve not tried the F/1.4, but the F/1.8 is very good, and cheap too, though bokeh isn’t anything special, but not terrible either.

      1. For my use the OM 50mm f1.4 MC on A7 is razor sharp the bokeh a little bit swirly.
        The latest version is the MC with serial more than 1mil. but for my experience those over 800k are same with 1mil >> the different is not much. those serial below one some will be magenta cast some will be green cast.

  5. Phillip, very good comparison and i enjoy reading ur blog! It is useful.

    any comparison between Minolta MC 58 1.4 vs MC 58 1.2, and MC 58 1.4 vs MC 55 1.7?
    coz I had MC 58 1.4 and thinking if buying 55 1.7 makes a difference. There is no detailed comparison between them over the internet.

  6. Hello. Thank you for your reviews. Looks like times have changed because some how the market drove the prices to over $250 for the Canon.
    With this new price. Is it still a good price to performance recommendation

  7. Merci pour ces passionnantes comparaisons, très éclairantes. Ces optiques sont vraiment merveilleuses.

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