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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jr050680

72 thoughts on “The tale of the Minolta 55mm f/1.7

  1. Jonas,

    First of all, these are some stunning images! I have 2 copies of this lens and again totally agree with your findings as i have had the same experience using the lens on the X-Pro. The MC’s are drop dead gorgeous on the X-Pro with the chrome trimming and knurled metal, super sweet… In my opinion this is a well underrated lens, quietly goes almost unnoticed amongst Minolta lens aficionados – my take is that those that have used the lens in the past did so on film cameras, hence the so so impression or lack there of compared to other 50’s, on the X-Trans Sensor as you have shown here, its another story, nothing short of superb…

    Look out for the MC 58mm f/1.4, another superb lens… These lenses will also be better as far as focussing goes come July 23 for the upcoming X-Pro1 firmware 3.0 to include Focus Peaking, i simply can’t wait…

    Great Work!

    1. HI Kelvin,
      can you comment how is the sharpness and contrast of 58mm from f1.7 compared to 55mm f/1.7.
      I have a chance to get either of this two lens of similar price. Im wondering which one shall I pick ?

      I would also pack Fuji 60mm f.2.4 into the comparison. How are the Minoltas compared when stepped down to F2.4 and F2.8 ?

  2. What I really like about the lens is the fact you got it for twenty bucks!?! What a find and a great read along with superb imagery! Thanks, Jonas….

  3. Wow, looks like a beautiful lens and some great photography there Jonas! Your pictures are so expressive and emotive. Any thoughts on the focus peaking update coming on July 27?

    1. Thank you Adrian! Very kind of you!

      I am going to LOVE the focus peaking on July 27th.
      I already use the “moiré focusing method” which, with some training actually works like a slight highlight peak. So the real deal will just make it even easier. Legacy lenses will be the real deal when this FW 3.0 hits the cameras.

      /Jonas

  4. Thank you for a great post and wonderful images, quick query, what is the adapter you’re using? I see there are lots on ebay … but what would you recommend Kipon, Novoflex or some other made in HK brand 😉

    Cheers.

    1. Hi Christoper.

      I’m using a cheap adapter I think it’s made my PhotoDiox. I bought it off ebay.co.uk. For the m mount the Kipon is good, since its all black. (unless you want to pay the big bucks for the Fuji one)

      Thank you for stopping by!

      /jonas

  5. Hej Jonas,

    Super blog, det er altid en fornøjelse når der kommer nye indlæg. Det er rigtig fedt med alle de gamle objektiver. Køber du dem i Århus?

    Mvh Henrik.

      1. Hej Jonas,

        Tak for svaret, jeg har lige købt et Helios-44M-6, og et Minolta MD 50mm 1:2 begge inklusiv kameraer i dba. Så nu venter nu bare spændt på adapterne. Jeg skal bruge dem på et Olympus OM-D.

        Har du prøvet nogle af 135mm objektiverne enten fra Zuiko eller Rokkor?

        Din lokale butik i Århus har vel ikke en web shop?

        Tak for inspirationen 🙂

        Mvh Henrik

  6. Greetings!

    Picked up this lens & the same adapter. Just arrived. Problem, though: the shutter won’t trip? Any suggestions?

    Thanks,

    Bill

  7. Greetings Again,

    Well, I must of done some adjustment in the menu, shooting menu 3-mount adapter settings, and now the shutter works.

    Look forward to using this 55mm f/1.7 !

    Best,

    Bill

  8. heya
    as mentioned in fujix forum my lens was on the way and arrived today 🙂 now i just wait for my adapter to arrive, hopefully tomorrow 🙂 seems the lens i bought is of mint condition … can’t wait to use it!

  9. Thanks for the review! You convinced me to buy one on e-bay for $36 (US). I was looking for a fill-in until the Fuji XF 56 1.2 become available. But if this works out well, I may not need that Fuji portrait with this Minolta. And this lens cost me less than what I would have paid for in sale tax for the Fuji lens!!! My purchase arrived yesterday and it’s in good condition. I’m just waiting for my Rainbow Imaging adapter today or Monday. I can’t wait! The big bonus is that it’s the same filter size as my XF 35 1.4. I’m hoping that this “glow” you and other reviewers speak of will work well towards portrait shots of my family.

  10. hi i was looking up for details on this lens to sell it when i saw your post, i have to say i was impressed with the shot of the orchids, the problem is i only recently took up photography (by that i bought my 1st DSLR at christmas) and i have been looking for lens and other camera gear ever since, i now have a scary collection of lens including 4 super takumar lens a carl zeis 35 flectogon and about 30 others plus a mountain of camera,s so i need to get rid of some of them but now i see the kind of detail i can get from the rokkor i might well keep it =) decisions decisions

  11. Hi Jonas,
    first at all, congratulations for your blog. It’s very usefull for me (I Have an FUJI EX1). I love the photos taken with the Rokkor 55mm 1.7, and I’ve looking for one on ebay . Finally I bougth a Rokkor 50mm f1.7, for a bunch of euros . Have you tried this lens?Is very different of the 55mm 1.7?
    Thatnk you very much for you comments and go on with your work , it´s great me

  12. Nice images!

    I purchased a 55mm f/1.7 just now on Ebay based on this article. I already bought a 52mm f/1.8 based on your recommendation and love it…hopefully this experience will be the same!

    Thanks for a great site with good information.

  13. Thanks to your pictures, I’ve just bought the lens. I will fit it to the panasonic G3. It is only third four format, so I am interesting how it will work out, due to the smaller processor. Anyway thanks for your inspiration, its a bit of fun to look forward something new. I was thinking a lot which lense to get, I was between the 55mm f/1.7 and Rokkor 50mm f1.7, but you make me decide, besides the old look is fantastic. thanks again.
    Roman

  14. Have one of these lenses. Bought it new in 1971, as a teenager, with my SR-T 101. Have been using it with my Canon EOS digital and am amazed again at what a great lens this is.

    You mentioned using a 1970 Soligor 28mm f/2.8 Do you have some images from this lens? I also have one of these that I purchased around 1972 or 73 but haven’t tried it with my digital.

  15. Hi Jonas.
    Great review.
    What lens and camera did you use to take the 2 first pictures of the X-pro1 with the Rokkor ?
    Best Regards.
    Danny

  16. Hello!
    Great pics, and I share your view about this lens. I tested most of the standrd rokkors on xe1 camera , years ago, and it was for me far the best, while the 50 1.4 mc was very low… wasn’t nor impressed by the 45 2, very flat rendering…
    Can’t wait for my md nex adapter, the little gem is always waiting for me on a srt 303, on my shelf!

  17. I have Konica 52mm f1.8, love it so far. Thinking of getting the Konica 57mm f1.4 or Minolta 58mm f1.4. Can’t decide.

    1. Alex,

      They are very close wide open in terms of sharpness, the Konica is a bit sharper not by much. Stopped down, the Konica gets much sharper than the Minolta assuming sharpness is your thing, otherwise either one if fabulous glass. I can tell you though, the Konica 52 F/1.8 is a very fine lens, I have 2 versions of this lens and like you love it, a brilliant performer, though I prefer the version with the half stop aperture… Hope this helps!

  18. Great read! I just managed to find this lens in great condition at a thrift store. Just waiting on my adapter to get here so I can use it 🙂 Thanks for the post and photos! Can’t wait to use it!

  19. Jonas, my MD 55 1.7 can’t sharpen beyond approx. 10 meters due tot the fact (I think) that the glass touches the Lens Turbo. This renders the adapter useless. Did you experience the same problem? Cheers, Mattias

    1. Hi Mattias.

      Mine doesn’t touch the lens turbo. So I can’t reproduce your problem. It’s a valid reason for the missed ability to focus at infinity. Sorry to hear that.

      Thank you for reading.

      /J

  20. I have had a Minolta SRT 101 since 1966, it has performed extremely well including the lenses, I do not understand why they stopped.
    Just recently bought 55 1.7 I shall take a closer look at it now. I have always enjoyed my 2.8 135mm.
    To take photographs of my Cacti & flowers I bought a macro 50mm 3.5 Rokkor ofcourse.

  21. Jonas,
    Thanks for cluing me in to this lens! I just bought one of these 55mm 1.7s and I was blown away by it. Love the way it renders colors and its out-of–focus areas are lovely. I think it will replace my Helios-44 as my go-to adapted 50(ish) mm lens.
    Quick question: Any advice for an inexpensive adapted lens for Fuji X that is in the 85mm-135mm range and is fairly fast? I had a great old battered Nikkor 105mm f2.5 that I foolishly gave away. But now that it’s gone, I’m open to anything: Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Pentax, whatever–so long as it’s not more than, say, $200 and no slower than about f2.5. Any likely candidates spring to mind?
    Thanks for your sharing your passion through your reviews!
    Mark

    1. Hi Mark. Sorry for the late reply.
      I’m thing an old Nikkor 85mm, or maybe a super-takumar 85mm f/1.8. I have seen the takumar used, and it gives BEAUTIFUL results!

      Thank you very much for stopping by 🙂
      /jonas

      1. Thanks for the lens recommendations, Jonas! I’ll check them out. I might also borrow back the nikon 105mm f2.5 I loaned my brother-in-law.
        Cheers,
        Mark

  22. Hi, I am sure you are super busy but if you have a minute. I just bought this lens and an adapter. The adapter does not fit my D600. Can you please point me to the correct adapter for this lens to my camera? I am new at using a vintage lens but looking forward to it. Thanks, Candy

  23. Thank-you & your welcome. I enjoyed this article! If that is your daughter in these images she is so sweet.

  24. Oh wow! thanks so much for this review. Stunning images too! I have just bought the Sony A7 and I realised I had this little baby up in my cupboard from when I was a kid. Mine also is still in mint condition. Cant wait to get an adapter and try her out now!!! 🙂

  25. Hej Jonas
    Tak for et inspirerende site. Jeg har gået og kikket efter et objektiv og syntes dette Minolta 55mm så rigtigt godt ud. Har kikket i DBA for et stykke tid. I søndags fik jeg pludselig øje på dette objektiv i en annonce, som en sælger som præsenterede sig som “ikke fotomand” havde i. Mit 55 mm ser fuldstændig ubrugt ud. Ingen ridser i den sorte lak, intet overhovedet på linser eller blændeblade. Er lige kommet hjem med det, så jeg har ikke rigtigt nået andet end nogle aftenfotos i stuen, men de ser lovende ud. Har også Fujifilm.
    400,- for dette objektiv + SRT101 hus + 135mm f:2,8 Rokkor objektiv. Alt i nyværdig stand. Det er næsten ikke til at tro.
    Tak.
    Claus

  26. I think that when Minolta SRT 101 cameras came out quite a few had the 55mm f 1.7 lenses fitted as standard, I got the 58mm f 1.4, Singapore, much cheaper. Thus learning with that lens most users could see the limitation & then went for a longer lens, I started with the 135mm f 2.8 ( great lens). In my case I then bought a 28mm f 2.8 because it was good for shots at parties, I used to set it at about 10 feet + with a flash & rarely got a bad shot., the 55mm is getting more neglected, whilst in Aden trying to take photographs of Flamingos I was getting nowhere so I selected a Tamron 80 250mm f 3.8, another great lens, my 58mm stayed in the box as did my 135mm.
    So a lot of the “standard” lens got neglected & now are good purchases as most have been looked after but not used much. I am a great fan of Minolta & Rokkor, why they stopped I do not know.

  27. Great article, I recently picked one of these up from ebay for a very small sum of money. Hooked it up via adaptor to my Samsung NX3000 and the results are amazing!

  28. Hi Jonas, I’ve this great lens but it is a lever at the bottom for stopping down. How do you move the lever for close the diaphragm whit the adapter? thanks a lot

  29. Hi, thanks for the nice review.
    This lens was all I needed, bought with my used Minolta srT101 in 1989.
    I used the couple until 2003 when my srT’s exposure meter stopped working.
    I now repair and trade a bit in these types of Minolta’s and lenses.
    Yesterday I fixed a beautiful 55mm 1.7 it was badly serviced by someone before me and terribly out of focus with oily blades. I cleaned it through all the elements and started adjusting the focus while checking it at my Olympus OM-D E-M1. You need to adjust and check and adjust etc.
    After I was satisfied with all the test shots of a chimney an the other side of the street, I decided to take some of these shots as well with my Oly m4/3 12-40mm at the same focal lenght (27mm-28mm on the Oly) just to check how sharp a modern lens would be and if I had done the job right.

    OMG…was I surprised!!! Believe me the 55mm 1.7 had the edge!!!!
    So my 900 euro lens was beaten with a hair difference by a 20 euro Minolta.
    I knew the lens of course and have had already fun with my old lens on the Olympus and they are superb.

    This is a very underestimated lens, I also have the Minolta 58mm 1.4 for example and it has maybe a better bokeh but in sharpness the 55mm wins between my examples.
    So, if you are looking for a first class lens and you are on a budget (or not!)….Minolta MC PF 55mm 1.7 it is.
    I also like the focal distance, you will learn to adjust and become better.
    Also I can recommend the Minolta MC 35mm 2.8 HG, it is gorgeous, even lighter and has the same beauty.
    Learn to shoot with these two, digital or analogue and you will improve and have fun!

    Thanks for reading!!!

  30. Wonderful blog and beautiful photography. I run a group on facebook called Rokkor Bokeh we have about 600 members posting all things rokkor and discussions.I would really love for you to join and give us all the benefit of your experience and insights into these amazing Minolta gems. http://www.RokkorBokeh.com lands you directly on the page.Look forward to having you on board! Many thanks.

    1. Hi John, thanks for the invitation but I left facebook some months ago and I don’t miss it.
      Nothing personal. Anyway, I tried to go directly to your url, but still land on facebook login page.

  31. Hi Jonas, i just got Minolta MC Rokkor 1.9 55mm
    And i previously bought MD-FX Minolta MC MD mount lens to Fujifilm Fuji X-Pro1 XPro1 Camera Adapter Ring.
    It doesn’t work on X-T1.
    Is there a difference between X-T1 and X-T1Pro adapters?

  32. Mine has just been posted from eBay seller. I had forgotten why I was bidding on this- your review reminded me why. Great pics and it is funny you should mention the Helios and Takumar as I have those on the way too. Gotta love vintage lenses and eBay ☺

  33. Hi Jonas.

    I love your reviews on vintage lenses as well as all your other articles. I’ve fallen in love with vintage lenses myself, though I only have two at these moment (minolta md 50mm 1.7 and Clubman 28mm 2.8), but planning on finding a good copy of the Helios 44-2 this month.
    Would you mind sharing the location of this thrift shop of yours? I might go to Denmark this summer for a short vacation and wouldn’t mind stopping by there.

    Best regards, Stian R. Espeland

    1. Well, I can’t remember if I’ve written this alrady in this blog:
      I have
      a 50/3,5 Industar. One tiny piece that is smaller than the M42 adapter (!) but delivers not far from a Fujinon. Compared to my Canon Fd 50/1,4, the Canon is not near and sensitive to CA (especially with Velvia)

      a 50/2,2 Pancolar S/N 6631284 /(1966?) which I even better and is 99,9% of a Fujinon, at least. In B/W I think it outperforms.

  34. Jonas,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write this wonderful article. You have helped to keep these lenses alive.
    Ive just purchased this on Ebay. I have an XT1 and am looking forward to getting this on my XT1. Ill follwo up after I get a chance to shoot.

  35. Hi Jonas,

    I totally agree with you. The 55mm will always have a special place in my heart as I used/use it on my Minolta X-700. I prefer it over my 50mm f1.4 Minolta MD as it better build and provides a tighter nearly portraiture focal length adapted to APS-C. IMHO it is a very underrated Minolta lens. Do you own a 58mm f1.2 as well or did you try it? I would love to see it compared to the XF 56mm f1.2.

    Cheers,
    Stefan

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