The Minolta MD 100mm 1:2.5 is a small and affordable lens which delivers a surprisingly good performance on the Sony a7 series. Read my in-depth review to decide if it could be a good addition to your camera bag.
|Filter Thread||49 mm|
|Close Focusing Distance from the sensor||1 m|
|Number of aperture blades||6|
In Germany you can buy it used for around 140€ at ebay.de (affiliate link).
You can find all images shown in this image in full resolution in this album.
There are basically two different versions of the Minolta MD 100mm 1:2.5.
- The Minolta MD Tele Rokkor 100 mm 1:2.5 was released in 1977. It has a 55 mm filter diameter and weighs 375 g.
- The Minolta MD 100 mm 1:2.5 has an integrated lens hood, a filter diameter of just 49 mm and it weighs just 310 g. The build quality is a little inferior compared to the older Rokkor but optics are the same.
I have also reviewed the older Minolta MC Rokkor 100 mm 1:2.5 which again comes in different versions. The youngest MC shares the optics of the MD and the older one is still closely related but the coatings are inferior.
Build quality and handling
The Minolta MD 100 mm 1:2.5 offers good enough but not great build quality.
The focus ring travels around 200 degrees from 1 m to infinity which is a good transmission both for focusing portraits and landscapes. The rubberized focus ring offers good grip and a pleasant diameter. The resistance is pleasant but a little on the higher side.
The aperture ring is made from plastics and shows some sign of usage on my otherwise very little worn copy. It feels a bit cheap and while the click-stops are distinctive enough I have seen better implementations. It has no click-stop between f/2.5 to f/4 and f/16 to f/22 but half-stops in between.
The Minolta MD 100 mm 1:2.5 has a handy built-in hood. It does not offer perfect protection of the front element and some times it makes sense to additionally shield it with the the hand but unlike other built-in hoods it won’t accidentally retract.
Size and Weight
At 310g and with a length of just 65 mm the Minolta has the perfect size for the Sony a7 series and handling is great.
These results are based on the use with a Sony Alpha 7/7II.
Compared to most other legacy lenses the Minolta MD 2.5/100 has good coatings but in extreme situations you will notice a small ghost.
In general veiling flare is well under control but with a bright light source just outside of the frame you can run into serious issues as demonstrated by these two images:
Bokeh is always rather subjective but I would rate the Minolta MD 2.5/100’s bokeh among the best I have ever seen.
Out of focus highlights in the background show very little outlining and the Minolta is quite smooth in the critical transition zone as well.
The Foreground bokeh is less smooth and there is some color fringing around oof highlights and the cat-eyes-effect is visible at f/2.5.
Stopped down to f/4 and further the hexagonal shape of the aperture blades becomes quite obvious and it can be distracting for some images.
Like in almost any other short tele axial CA isn’t too well corrected and it can be a bit distracting for some images.
There are traces of lateral CA but the Minolta MD 100 mm 1:2.5 is well corrected in this regard.
Vignetting at f/2.5 is 1.3 stops which can be noticed in critical situations. From f/4 it is below 0.5 stops which is insignificant under any circumstance.
The Minolta MD 100 mm 1:2.5 shows a very small amount of pincushion distortion.
f/2.5: Very sharp in the center with very good off-center resolution but lower contrast.
f/4: Excellent in the center now and very good midframe. The corners don’t really improve but vignetting is significantly reduced.
f/5.6: Very good across the frame.
f/8: The center is a tad softer, the corners are a tad better.
f/11: A little softer due to diffraction.
All in all a very good performance. I don’t hesitate to use f/2.5 for about anything and by f/5.6 there is little left to be desired.
Minolta MC 2.5/100: On the plus side the MD’s predecessor offers better build quality and a more pleasant focusing experience. But it is 100 g heavier, flares a lot easier, doesn’t focus as close and it is also a little less sharp.
review | 410 g | about $140 used | at ebay.com (affiliate link)
Minolta MC 1.7/85: It is a stop faster but more of a character lens wide open and stopped down the significantly lighter MD 2.5/100 performs a little better. So unless you really need the faster aperture the 100 is the much more attractive lens, especially at half the price. I didn’t keep this 85.
review | 460 g | about $270 used | at ebay.com (affiliate link)
Minolta MD 2/85: It delivers very good across the frame sharpness a stop earlier at f/4 and it is also a little smaller and lighter as well as faster. The big but in my eyes is that the 2/85 has much less smooth bokeh. How much this matters depends a lot on what you shoot but one thing I appreciate about the 2.5/100 is that it is so versatile and I don’t have to worry about bokeh.
sample images | 285 g | about $250 used
Tokina 2.5/90 Macro: It is a bit sharper at f/2.5 and it is more flexible because of the much shorter minimal focusing distance. But the Tokina is 200g heavier than the Minolta, flares easier, has a rather short focusing throw at portrait distances and it is much more expensive nowadays. I still own the Tokina, but I carry the Minolta more often.
review | 530 g | about $300 used | at ebay.com (affiliate link)
Olympus OM 2.8/100: The Olympus is a little slower and cheaper but also absolutely tiny. Performance is close but the Minolta has the edge with a little smoother bokeh and sharper corners stopped down.
review | 230 g | about $90 used | at ebay.com (affiliate link)
Olympus OM 2/100: The faster and much more expensive Olympus is one of my favorite manual lenses. It is at least as sharp from f/2 as the Minolta with great bokeh and it focuses down to 0.7m without any loss in performance. The Minolta has the edge though when it comes to across the frame sharpness stopped down.
review | 520 g | about $750 used | at ebay.com (affiliate link)
Nikon AI-S 2.5/105: This is a legendary lens and I think it play is the same league but I would have to compare them directly for a more exact comparison.
mtf chart | FM-forums | 435 g | about $250 used | at ebay.com (affiliate link)
Zeiss Macro Planar 2/100: The Makro Planar is more than twice the weight and many times as expensive. It is also one of the sharpest lenses ever made but suffers from strong axial CA. I still own it but I pick the Minolta more often because it is so much nicer to handle and close enough in image quality.
MTF-data | review | 660 g | about $750 used | at ebay.com (affiliate link)
Zeiss Sonnar 3.5/100: The slightly lighter and slower Zeiss seems to have a bit better coatings and nicer build quality. Without a direct comparison is hard to say which lens sharper but they will be close. I think the Minolta is the more attractive allrounder because it is a stop faster.
MTF | review | 285 g | about $350 used | at ebay.com (affiliate link)
The Minolta MD 100 mm 1:2.5 is one of the best manual lenses I have reviewed. It is very sharp with pleasant bokeh and since it is just 310g I don’t hesitate to actually carry it with me unlike some other very nice lenses which I often leave at home because of their weight. Other lenses are often either very good as a landscape lens or a portrait lens but the Minolta performs very well in both categories.
I see no serious drawback of the Minolta but of course there are a few things it does less well. The axial CA is a weakness of nearly any short tele lens and not much of an issue for most applications like portrait or landscape. Then there is the issue of the 6 straight aperture blades which can be bothering if you shoot for example portraits at f/4. Since the Minolta is very good from f/2.5 and I am a sucker for shallow depth of field I rarely do that but YMMV.
At about $140 the Minolta MD 100 mm 1:2.5 offers great value if you ask me. Sure it isn’t super fast but usually fast enough and it performs better than most faster lenses and it’s handling is superior as well so I got many good images out of it and I bring it with me very often.
All in all the Minolta MD 100 mm 1:2.5 is a pretty great lens which’s many strengths far outweigh it’s weaknesses. At the moment it is one of my most used lenses and I will certainly keep it, especially because it is very affordable.
The Minolta MD 2.5/100 usually sells for around $150 used at ebay.com (affiliate link).
In Germany you can buy it used for around 140€ at ebay.de (affiliate link).
Also check out my Minolta SR-mount adapter guide.
If this review was helpful to you, please consider using one of my affiliate links. Thanks ?
More Image Samples
You can find more images in this flickr set: Minolta MD 2.5/100.
- The rated List of Minolta MD/MC Lenses on the Sony a7
- Minolta MC Tele Rokkor 100mm 1:2.5 Review
- Affordable manual lenses for the Sony Alpha 7,7r,7ii,7rii and 7s
- Beginner’s Guide to Manual Lenses on the Sony a7
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44 thoughts on “Review: Minolta MD 100mm 1:2.5”
This has been on my ‘want’ list for some time- no thanks to you, I now want one more than ever. 🙂
On another note, it’s slower than all of the alternative lenses you’ve listed, but what do you think of the MD 100/4?
Glad you weren’t disappointed with it Phillip ;o)
I think mine is perhaps, even a bit sharper!
I have a Minolta 85mm f2. I really love this lens. Could you talk about your comparison of these two lens? I wondered if it was worth replacing it with this one. Thanks.
Thanks for your help 🙂
You are welcome 🙂
Tokina 2.5/90 macro for only about $90 used? I think that might be a glitch.
How does this lens compare with the Contax G 90mm?
The Zeiss has a bit better coatings, 8 aperture blades and it is even smaller. Without comparing them directly I would say sharpness is very similar and bokeh a bit better for the Minolta.
Can you compare Minolta 100 / 2.5 with the forgotten 100 / 3.5 (not macro)?
If I ever get the chance to buy one I might 🙂
For mirrorless users, you can pick up the Nikon Gauss 105mm F2.5 version in Non-AI and save some cash. Just make sure the serial number is above 40xxxxx. I think I paid about $120 for mine in near mint condition. Anything with a serial number below that is the Sonnar version I believe, which is still a nice lens but isn’t quite as sharp wide open and the coatings aren’t as good so it’s less contrasty and flares/ghosts a little easier. Some reviewers say bokeh is a little smoother though.
I have the Contax G90 but not this Minolta. I would guess the rendering is rather different, with the contax having a very aggressive contrasty look. The contax definitely has the edge in size, but then you’ve got to find a decent adapter.
I think for me the spot this would get in my bag would be instead of my OM 90/2, as a smooth lens while the contax comes along for a sharp, contrasty look. The Minolta might be sharper, bokeh not quite as good as the OM, but this Minolta is 240 grams lighter than my OM 90. I think I might have to try it!
Phillip, I think you could make a lot of money buying up a lot of these lenses and then writing one of your compelling, excellent reviews. No doubt the ebay price of this one is going to peak for a while now…
Thanks for another great review. I have the 55mm version of the lens. It is a great performer and so light. I even sold the Nikon 105 2.5, because I prefer the long throw of this lens at portrait distance.
I have not got chance to try the Minolta 85/2. How do you compare it against the Tokina 90/2.5 macro for general use?
The Minolta 2/85? The Tokina is nearly twice the size so for landscape where both lenses perform really well I would pick the Minolta. But as a general purpose lens I would no doubt choose the Tokina.
Since I already have the Minolta 100/2.5, does it make much sense to get the Minolta 85/2?
I don’t know what is important to you but probably no
Have you reviewed the laowa 105/2? Seems like it should be a worthy contender on the alternatives list… been thinking about that one alot
I have: reviewed the Laowa
The list is so long already that I decided against including it. The Laowa is very sharp across the frame from f/2 and it has very nice background bokeh as well as excellent CA correction and 9 aperture blades. But it also has very bad flare resistance, is heavy and not cheap.
How would it compare to the zeiss tele Tessa 85/4, tele-elmarit 90 and 90 sumicron?
I have experience with neither of them.
Hi Phillip! Thanks for the review! Have you ever try Minolta 135 – 2.8 ? If yes could you tell me please your short opinion. It’s cheap lens and i thinking to buy it .
Hi Phillip, great review as usual. I found this review (again) as I was looking at a few lenses in this category. I’m curious if you have thoughts in comparison to the Minolta 100/2.8? I owned that lens awhile back, and remember it as very impressive price/performance…
Thanks for all the great articles!
As far as I know the MC and MD aren’t the same, the MC PF is a 6/5, later MC and MD are 5/5
That’s what I mean when I say closely related but not the same 🙂
The nFD 2/100 seems to be missing from the “Alternatives” list despite being on the best under $499. How does it compare to the MD and MC versions? What’s the best buy in your opinion? I notice there’s a fair amount of range in price across these lenses as well as the Tokina so not sure which to go for. Is there any sense in not just grabbing the best priced lens of the bunch?
Thanks in advance!
I have no personal experience with the FD and it is pretty rare, that’s why I didn’t list it. I don’t know you preferences so it is hard for me to give you recommendation which goes beyond the alternatives section.
I use an A6300 and only have two lenses at the moment – a Samyang 2/12 and a Sigma 1.4/30 – so Im basically looking for something with a bit more reach to round out my kit. This will be my first foray into manual lenses (other then my 2/12) , and i’ll mostly be using it for general nature and casual portraiture. I figure 100mm would be a nice addition. Here are some options at the moment (inspired by your recommendations of course!):
– MC Tele Rokkor 2.5/100 for CA$200
– MD Tele Rokkor 2.5/100 for around CA$250
– nFD 2/100 for around CA$400
– Tokina 2.5/90 for around CA$500
Another option would be to get the FD 4/80-200 L for CA$300, which seems to be one of the favourite lenses over on Canon Classics. A bit slower yes, but more versatile and apparently is quite sharp?
Anyways, with so many options I’m not quite sure. I would greatly appreciate some guidance!
If you can afford it an weight isn’t super important to you get the Tokina
Ha I was hoping you weren’t going to say that. I’m trying to stay relatively economical…second choice?
Having said that, if the quality difference is worth double the price then I may just have to bite the bullet.
I is a little sharper and macro is pretty handy. There is no best solution here, every lens has it’s strengths and weaknesses. The Minolta MD 2.5/100 is the best allrounder in my eyes.
Also I’m noticing how huge the Tokina is compared to other 85s and 100s. Since I do most of my photography while walking/hiking a smaller size would be nice. Best middle ground for IQ, size, and price?
Hi Phillip, Great review, thx. I only just saw this one, while searching for a review of the 100/4 macro, but I’d bought the MDiii 100/2.5 after I read your review of the older 100/2.5 lens. I’ve been using it on Fuji APSC, but I agree with your conclusions. (If I have any doubts about the lens, it’s that it’s truly f2.5 – its transmission seems slower.) I bought it as a lightweight alternative to carrying a heavier AF zoom and in that role it’s wonderful. As you’ve observed, most good 100mm lenses are much heavier.
Recomiendes by you,i bought the mc 55 1.7 and md 100 2.5 ,very nice bokeh both of3 them ,first one3 much better built but less contrast – by the way, the prices of so3 many lenses have been raised since your review (i’m sure you’ve noticed by now….)
does anyone have experiences with both the minolta md100f2.5 and canon fd100f2.8? the fd seems to be alot cheaper, but does it perform much worse?
Excellent review and amazing sample shots. You’ve convinced me!
I always come here and spent hours reading your blog. 😉
Let me know…
Have you tried the Canon nFD 2.8/100 to compare with this MD?
I’m curious about how they compare.
Thanks in advance.
I haven’t 😉
I just snagged this guy on eBay this week for $65(Rokkor X version). I looks like I got quite a gem
This is a beautiful specimen lens. I can’t seem to find any like it for sale.
What about the MC TELE Rokkor-PF 100mm F2…?