It was almost like a revelation. Like something that I really didn’t think could ever be possible. I first got a whiff of what was coming on a facebook forum committed to all things Fujifilm GFX. There were a lot of first movers from Hong Kong that had access to fast luxury glass, and prototype adapters.
First was the Sigma ART lenses and Zeiss Otus. They seemed to cover the Fujifilm GFX sensor with minimal vignette or falloff! Of course these are lenses that have been designed for optimal IQ on full frame, so the fact that they are “over engineered” to cover the 135mm sensor using only the center of the optic is a plausible cause for the coverage of the 44x33mm GFX sensor.
At this point I had been testing the GFX during two different time periods, going from: “I will never buy this” to: “I think I might find this useful”. But when I found out that you could mount your 35mm lenses to achieve a completely different look to your images, I was completely sold.
So, just like with the X-Pro1 almost 5 years ago, the prospect of adapting vintage glass in front of a Fujifilm camera was the absolute selling point for me.
I have written countless articles on vintage glass here at the blog (just search for “vintage” and you’ll see what I mean). My Helios 44m-4 article from 4 years ago keep at the top of Google searches and keeps getting traffic in staggering numbers, so I know that I’m not the only one with a fascination for this combination of “old and new”
Going back to the post at hand – I have been a huge fan of the Minolta Rokkor lenses for a long time. I have been an avid user of especially the 55mm f/1.7 and the 58mm f/1.4 on my X-series cameras. They have a lot of great things going for them, the top two being excellent IQ and a low pricepoint. Since the Minolta lenses were the ones that I had most of, I decided the first adapter to buy for my GFX was the Fotodiox Pro MD-GFX. I didn’t get my hopes up, since this was basically trial and error to see whether they would cover just a little bit, or be completely useless without cropping.
To my absolute joy, surprise and delight I found both the 55 and 58 to not only cover, but to cover the sensor so good, that I could easily get rid of the remaining corner vignette in post processing! NO HARD VIGNETTING!!
So just as I had hoped, these old Minolta lenses were also over engineered to maintain high quality output! And now, they were the perfect match for my GFX50s!
Now, what has happened during the last 3 months is not something that neither I nor my wallet is proud of. I have bought a lot, and I mean A LOT of old Minolta Rokkor lenses. It was an itch I simply had to scratch!
This blog post I will try to give you a bit of a heads up on what works well and what doesn’t work too well in the world of Minolta X Fujifilm. I will tell you my experiences of the different lenses that I have tested. I have collected a lot of Minolta Rokkor lenses, but certainly not all. I have nothing longer than a 100mm and nothing wider than a 28mm.
The best sensor coverage is achieved at or around the full frame standard 50mm focal lengths. This means that the
all cover the sensor so well that you can correct the remaining visible vignette using light rooms vignette correction tool set to +80 to +100. This is of course when shooting wide open. When stopping down to f/5.6 to f/8 most vignetting is gone in camera.
At the wider end of the spectrum the coverage of the
requires a full correction +100 in lightroom and sometimes a slight crop of about 2%. Mind you that these are my findings shooting white surfaces and clear skies. In real world usage this vignetting is really a non-issue.
At the medium tele end of the spectrum I have tested the 85mm f/1.7, the 100mm f/2.5 and 100mm f/3.5. The 85mm has a flawless coverage. the 100mm’s vignettes slightly more than the standard primes, but not as much as the wide angle lenses.
If I was to pick out the best lenses in terms of coverage only it would be the following 5 in order of best coverage:
- 85mm f/1.7
- 58mm f/1.4
- 55mm f/1.7
- 58mm f/1.2
- 50mm f/1.7
Well, this is a tough one to describe, but of course there are differences between the lenses. they all have different characteristics that are either augmented or diminished on the Medium Format digital sensor of the GFX50s.
They all seem to do a fine job resolving the sensor. Not like the dedicated Fujinon GF lenses of course, but close enough. Their sweet spot in terms of sharpness and resolution is almost without a single exception found around f/5.6 to f/8. They suffer somewhat with sharpness at the far distances, so these lenses are definitely best used for portraiture, street or lifestyle work. For landscape they do work, but your resolution will suffer at the horizon.
They also have different color casts. This can easily be seen when using custom white balance on the GFX. Some renders warmer like e.g. the 45mm f/2 and some cooler like the 100mm f/2.5.
IQ wise in order of quality of sharpness and resolution I would rate the top five as
- 55mm f/1.7 (from wide open, great sharpness and detail)
- 85mm f/1.7 (From f/2. A little soft at f/1.7)
- 58mm f/1.2 (From f/2. A little soft at f/1.2)
- 35mm f/1.8 (great resolution in the corners as well)
- 100mm f/2.5 (great center sharpness throughout range)
DOF and bokeh
One of the first things you need to learn about adapting these lenses to a larger sensor than what they were intended for is that you alter the equivalent perceived focal length and depth of field. That is because your 135mm sensor is 0.8x the size of the GFX sensor. So you have to multiply the focal length and f-number on your Rokkor lenses by 0.8.
So as the extreme example, for you to achieve the same field of view and DOF as the Minolta Rokkor 58mm f/1.2 mounted o the GFX you would need a native full frame lens of 46mm f/0,95.
So by using the Minolta lenses on the GFX you get a wider percieved field of view than if you had mounted it on your full frame. Just think of it as looking out a window thats a little bigger.
This of course means that you have some creative possibilities of playing with very narrow DOF. It can be a pain to focus, and it requires that you zoom in your GFX, and mostly turn off focus peaking, since it will trick you into thinking you’re in focus while you’re actually back focussing.
The narrow DOF combined with the wider FOV possibilities is great for achieving a look not too far from what you can achieve on the much bigger 6×7 film cameras like for example coupling the Pentax 67 with the 105mm f/2.4 takumar. You get amazing subject isolation while including a lot of surroundings in our frame. Again, this is just another creative expansion of the GFX as a creative tool.
For the bokeh portion of of the show this rating is a bit obscure, because how do you rate such a thing. Is it better to have a unique rendering? Swirl? Soap bubbles or just great creamy bokeh. Well in 1st place there can be no other than the über luscious bokeh machine the 58mm f/1.2 – It has some of the most creamy bokeh I have ever seen in a lens. It’s just that good.
- 58mm f/1.2 – The king!
- 85mm f/1.7
- 100mm f/2.5
- 45mm f/2 (controversial, since some would say its “busy” – but I like it)
- 55mm f/1.7
I got a few questions regarding the 58mm f/1.4 vs. the 58mm f/1.2. Mainly it’s about value for money. Is the 1.2 really that much better than the 1.4? Obviously the 1.2 has earned a reputation as being one of the best lenses ever made for rendering OOF areas. This holds very true. But because of its good reputation, prices are set accordingly. The 1.4 has no such rep, nor is the bokeh that it produces anything out of the ordinary.
So to sum up. If you want some extremely gorgeous bokeh and a very shallow DOF possibility go with the expensive 1.2 – If you just want something fast and versatile and save a lot of money, go for the 1.4. It will still give you an f/1.1 full frame eq. DOF, so you’ll have plenty of OOF stuff to play with!
Size and handling
The Rokkor lenses are built to a high standard, so finding them in great condition is easy. There are differences between the MC and MD versions, but the mount is the same. There are some differences in coating and also some differences in optical design among some of them. As a general rule the MD lenses should perform with higher contrast and less flaring because of the newer/better coating.
I like the build of the MC lenses better though. They are the versions without the 80’s rubber grip, but instead have all metal barrels. They look nice!
The 45mm f/2 becomes a super cool 35mm f/1.6 ff eq lens. It’s small and pancake like, and perfect for street photography because of its small size.
The 100mm f/2.5 becomes a very compact 80mm f/2 ff eq, and even though the quality is not at all up to par, it’s definitely a lot smaller than Fujifilms own Fujinon GF110mm f/2 that will render about the same FOV and DOF.
But instead of me explaining how they look, I have put together a small gallery of the Rokkors I own, mounted on the GFX50s.
I haven’t used the lenses in equal amounts. Obviously I have my preferences and shooting style, and that won’t change just because I use the Rokkors. My preferred focal length is the “standard 50mm’ish” focal length as well as the 35mm focal length. That means that the 58mm get the most camera time as well as the 45mm f/2. – I have only recently bought the 58mm f/1.2, so most of the images are taken using the 58mm f/1.4 which I have owned for many years.
I have obviously processed all the images in this post. I always do this when I write about gear. I get some complaints that it makes the posts invaluable as a comparison tool, but I disagree wholeheartedly with this. I’m not a review magazine. I’m a photographer that happen to like testing stuff out. I share this knowledge so maybe someone out there don’t have to go through needless investments to get the lens they really like. So even though you can’t pixel peep when looking at my stuff, you can clearly get an idea of where the gear will take you.
So take these images for what they are: An exhibition of what I get out of using the Minolta Rokkor lenses on the GFX.
Make sure to click on the galleries to bring up the lightbox viewer, to see the images properly!
Minolta Rokkor 45mm f/2
With the 35mm ff eq FOV this lens is made for street photography, so no wonder it’s one of my favourites. The quality is awesome. The size is small. It’s nice and sharp. The only thing one might complain about is the rather “busy” bokeh. But I don’t mind much. It soft-vignettes a bit, but can be corrected easily in post, or left as-is for the effect it gives to the image. This is a must have Rokkor for the GFX if you ask me.
Minolta Rokkor 58mm f/1.2
I just recently acquired this lens, so I still have a long way to go with it. But all I can say is that it’s a perfect lens! The rendering is so beautiful. It’s sharp with creamy creamy bokeh (did I say creamy?) – It’s expensive, but it really is worth every penny if you ask me. If you have the cash, then this lens is definitely the king of the Rokkor lenses.
Minolta Rokkor 58mm f/1.4
The “little sister” of the lens above, this lens is much cheaper than its 1.2 sibling. This lens is the perfect compromise between cost and quality. You get almost the same maximum aperture, but in a smaller package. You get good bokeh, but not as special as with the 1.2 – It has a more “busy” type bokeh.
If I could only recommend one lens from the Rokkor series for use with the GFX, this would be the one. I have used this extensively for many years, and on the GFX it just got a nice revival.
Minolta Rokkor 55mm f/1.7
This, along with the 85mm f/1.7 is the sharpest of the bunch when shot wide open. It has fantastic coating, so it will give good contrast and it is less prone to flaring. It covers really well and it rarely needs correcting.
Minolta Rokkor 85mm f/1.7
This lens is a beast. It’s tack-sharp. Has amazing bokeh, and it has full coverage. It looks a little like the 58mm f/1.2 with its huge front element and shining of the barrel close to the mount. This lens covers the GFX sensor with no issues. For portraits this is the golden lens!
Minolta Rokkor 35mm f/1.8 and 28mm f/2
I haven’t shot with these as much as I would have liked. I have never gotten around to it. But they’re fantastic lenses. They’re very sharp edge to edge. Minimal distortion and great resolution. They do suffer in the coverage area, and wide open they have quite a hefty vignette. I need to crop the images a little bit from time to time, since the outermost vignette is a hard vignette, and is not correctable in post.
This is a mixed pile of images. The remaining lenses have seen limited use. Just enough for me to have an opinion on sharpness, coverage, bokeh etc. Some of these shots have been shot with a 36mm extension ring. The 100mm f/2.5 has a close focus limit of more than a meter, which is horrible with the bigger sensor, so using an extension tube is recommended. Then you can get really close, and it works quite well for macro type shots as well. There are also some shots from the 50mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.7
So there you have it. This was my little run-through of some of the Minolta Rokkor lenses. As I mentioned in the beginning, mounting these lenses on the GFX opens up a world of creative possibilities. It’s not always about the sharpest lenses or the fastest autofocus. These lenses have soul and can bring that certain something to your images. The GFX sensor is a great companion to these old lenses.
So go ahead, buy an adapter and get your vintage Rokkor on.