The tale of the Minolta 55mm f/1.7

Today I want to tell you a little tale. A tale of some glass and metal.

Just as I had made my standard lens mini challenge and decided that I did not need anymore 50’ish mm lenses in my collection, I went down to my local thrift shop that specialises in old camera stuff. He had just gotten a new batch of lenses. A lot was in the mix, Takumars, Canon, Zeiss Jena, Helios etc. Common denominator was the fact that they ALL were in very worn out conditions. Sticky oily aperture blades, internal dust, sticky focussing, worn paint, shaky fittings and so on…. but one stuck out. This lens had NO wear at all! Not even a scratch to the black paint. It was encased in a leather hard case. Dust free, inside and out. Coating wasn’t even yellowed! It was still purple/green and protected under a B&W skylight filter. As luck would have it, it was a Minolta MD/MC mount lens.

The Minolta MC Rokkor -PF 55mm f/1.7

As if I didn’t have enough primes in that FOV already!?! Oh, well. I paid the ridiculously cheap 20 bucks for the 55mm and in addition took with me an old 28 mm f/2.8 Soligor made at the Komine factory in around 1970 for another 20 USD. I went home, fired up the Rokkor files website, and read what he had to say about this lens. I also scouted flickr and some other places. Conclusion being that this was an ordinary lens, nothing fancy like the 58mm f/1.2 et al. So I clearly expected mediocracy.

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Mounted on the X-Pro1, this lens had a HUGE plus. It looked amazing.  The size was perfect with MD adapter. Totally flush with the edges. The weight was right. The built was nothing less than SUPERB! The dual polished chrome front edges as well as the silver aperture ring looked like a Summilux on a Leica. A gorgeous pair!

 

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Then I took the first couple of test snaps….

My initial reactions to the preview in camera was: “This can’t be right?!” The colors and the sharpness was looking just like files from the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4. I took the camera out on a little street walk, without unloading the first test snaps onto the iMac. Focusing was the smoothest of all my vintage lenses. Damn near no resistance but still a solid feel. I couldfocus quicker than I had ever been able too. I took a 1 hour scroll, and I had ALOT of fun. This lens just felt RIGHT!

When I came home and had tucked my kids safely into bed that night, I unloaded the files from the camera into LR5. And I simply could not believe what I saw. The files were amazingly rich in colours and contrast. It had a tiny bit of classic glow. No cromatic aberation wide open. Bokeh was gorgeous. Silky smooth and creamy. The files that I converted into black and white looked crazy cool with only a slight contrast and clarity adjustment. I needed to process less with these files than I did with my modern lens files. To say I was impressed is a BIG understatement. I looked over my shoulder at my shelf of lenses…. I spotted the Helios 44m-4 58mm f/2 and the Takumar 55mm f/2. I gave both of them a respectful nod of acknowledgement, at the same time accepting that there was a new first lady in the Jonas harem of lenses.

And that, my friends, was the tale of how the Minolta MC Rokkor-PF 55mm f/1.7 stormed right to the top of my vintage standard 50’ish mm lens collection.

The sample shots below have been post processed in various ways like I normally do. However this lens required MUCH less post processing than the other lenses I have tested. The image of the purple orchid is a straight out of camera jpeg. It really is fantastic!

 

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