This is the most popular manual Minolta lens, I sold it twice just to buy another copy because it is such a nice lens.
Its most distinctive quality is the great bokeh.
It is pretty heavy and large for a standard lens and sharpness from f/2 is a tiny little bit worse than the much cheaper and somewhat smaller Minolta MC 1.4/50 but this lens has superior bokeh and is a joy to use.
Size: (diameter x length): 70.8mm x 54mm
Filter Thread: 55mm
Close Focusing Distance: 0.6m
Number of aperture blades: 8
Price: about 350€ used in good condition (Germany January 2014). For current prices check ebay.de (affiliate link) or ebay.com (affiliate link).
There are 3 mechanically different versions of the lens which share the same optical design.
The first version was built from 1966-1969 and the focusing ring is made completely from metal and flat. It is the rarest of the three versions and its lenses get a yellow cast over time which migh be due to a radioactive element. You can see an image of it here.
The second version was built from 1969-1973 and the focusing ring is also completely from metal but it has some elevations which the first one didn’t have. Some Images of it can be found here.
The third version is most common and was built from 1973.
The lens has a rubberized waffle style focusing ring and while all the earlier versions were labeled Rokkor-PG (indicating a 5 Groups, 7 lenses design) the PG-affix was dropped during the production of this version.
The images shown in this post depict the third version.
All versions seem to perform the same, of course there is sample variation and someone might find that his older copy performs better than a younger one but I don’t know of any evidence indicating a systematic difference between them.
The lens is completely made of high quality metals with a rubberized focus ring.
It is really resistant to mechanical wear, even though I have used this 40-years-old lens quite a lot there are close to no scratches.
The focus ring turns nice an smoothly, it doesn’t get better than this.
The aperture ring can be adjusted in half-stops, only from f/1.2 to f/2 the is no stop between.
I tested this lens on a Sony a7.
For an infinity test click here.
The contrast is low in the center of the image and even lower outside of it.
Resolution is quite high though, even in the midframe area. I think it is very close to the a7’s sensor resolution.
While the image should theoretically be 1.5 stops brighter than at f/2, it is only about one stop brighter in the center.
This is an usual behavior for super fast lenses on digital sensors and not a special problem of this lens, for a discussion of the phenomenon see this thread at fredmiranda.com.
Bokeh can be quite harsh at f/1.2 or it can be quite okay, it really depends on the scene. If smooth bokeh is important stop down to f/2 were it gets much smoother.
I think this aperture is usable when there isn’t too much light and thin DOF is important or if rather funky bokeh is desired, but for everyday use and portraits I usually stop down to at least f/2 because performance is much better at this aperture.
Contrast improves a lot in the image center and moderately in the midframe while the corners are still soft.
For portraits and closeups this aperture is fully usable as long as the subject isn’t placed to close to the rather lousy corners.
The center of the image is really sharp now.
Midframe sharpness is good now and the corners improve as well, but they are not really sharp yet.
This aperture can be used for almost anything, except when corner sharpness is critical.
The center improves slightly, moire becomes visible, midframe sharpness is great as well but the is some CA visible.
The corners have improved quite bit, but significant astigmatism can be seen, while sagittal lines are sharp tangential ones are not.
Even the corners are quite good now.
The image is sharp all over.
This is the optimal aperture for landscape use and will result in super sharp images.
The image softens slightly because of diffraction
check out the Rokkor images thread at fredmiranda.com, there are many images taken with this lens
Also check out this flickr set by sebboh with many great sample images.
Because of the mechanical construction of the lens it is, in contrast to almost every other Minolta SR-mount lens, quite easy to adapt it to either Canon EF or Sony A-mount.
Adapters are made by Leitax and Jim Buchanan. I used the lens on a Canon 5dII for some time with a Leitax Adapter which is really solid, without modification it can’t be focused further than 5m without hitting the mirror though. (I still have a Leitax mount for it which I don’t use, just contact me if you are interested)
It is even easier to use this lens with a Sony a7 (r) or a Nex because these cameras have a flange focal distance than traditional DSLRs and this lens can be directly adapted with a adapter.
You can either buy a cheap adapter (affiliate link) or a more expensive one from Novoflex (affiliate link). Nowadays I recommend the Novoflex adapter but the cheap ones are good enough, when I wrote this review I only owned cheap ones. For a more detailed discussion of adapters check out this article.
Images Samples in high resolution
See this flickr set for more full resolution images.
The lens delivers a solid performance and even though it is a big and heavy lens I often take it with me because it has such nice bokeh and delivers a solid performance.
While modern lenses like the super sharp Zeiss FE 1.8/55 or even the mighty Otus 1.4/55 will give much sharper results wide open, these lenses are much more expensive and I don’t really need sharp corners at f/2 very often. And at f/8 this lens is really sharp and the difference between it and a FE55 will be minor.
- For an Introduction to using manual lenses on the Alpha 7 check out my beginners guide.
- To learn about other Minolta lenses check out my Minolta lens ratings.
- Comparison: Minolta MC 1.2/58 vs Canon FD 1.2/55
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