First introduced in 1966, Minolta’s MC line of lenses was about to take the photography world by storm.
Even today, these lenses are known for their vivid colors, beautiful bokeh, and sublime handling and build quality.
Some tips for buying vintage Minolta lenses:
- All these lenses are for the same mount (SR mount). However, they are often referred to as “MC” or “MD” lenses.
- As a general rule, MD lenses are newer, lighter (more plastic), and with upgraded lens coatings.
- “nMD” refers to “New MD” – the last generation of each optical design. You can tell a nMD lens by the front ring: it should only say “Minolta” and “MD” (no “Rokkor”).
- Rokkor and Rokkor-X are the same thing (Rokkor-X was for the North American market)
- Avoid Minolta’s “Celtic” lenses (these were the budget line)
Some of the best value Minolta lenses today (by focal length):
Wide Angle Lenses
- Minolta MC 28mm F2.5 W.Rokkor-SI ($50):
Low distortion / aberrations, very sharp by f/5.6, pleasant rendering, well built. Radioactive.
- Minolta nMD 28mm F3.5 ($50):
Great image quality, performs even better than f/2.8 version!
- Minolta MC 35mm F1.8 W.Rokkor-HH ($200):
Sharp wide open with excellent bokeh, one of Minolta’s best.
- Minolta (n)MD 35mm F2.8 ($100):
Excellent performer even wide open (sharp, good bokeh). Excellent at f/8. Very small and light. Note: MC version is different (artsy, smooth bubble bokeh, not as sharp).
- Minolta MD 45mm F2 Rokkor ($40):
Tiny pancake lens. Sharp even wide open with decent bokeh. Cult favorite for street; unique bokeh.
- Minolta MC 50mm F1.4 Rokkor-PG ($60):
Nervous bokeh wide open, great by f/2 (great for portraits). Very sharp by f/5.6, excellent at f/8 for landscapes.
- Minolta nMD 50mm F1.4 ($60):
Sharp, beautiful smooth bokeh, low aberrations. Very similar to the MC version (above). Excellent value!
- Minolta nMD 50mm F1.7 ($30):
Very similar to the 50/1.4 (above), but even better value for money!
- Minolta MD 50mm F2 ($25):
Build quality not up to par with other 50’s from Minolta, but optically it’s excellent. Sharp wide open, excellent across frame by f/8. Compact and lightweight. Super value!
- Minolta MC 50mm F3.5 Macro Rokkor ($50):
Excellent by f/8. Best for close-up (macro), not infinity. 1:2 reproduction ratio (1:1 with optional adapter).
- Minolta MC 55mm F1.7 Rokkor-PF ($40):
Fun! Swirly bokeh and good contrast wide open (best for portraits at 2-3 meter range). Small and light. Very sharp by f/5.6.
- Minolta MC 58mm F1.4 Rokkor-PF ($70):
Unique rendering/bokeh (different from f/1.2), a bit soft from f/1.4 to f/2, lots of flare & vignette.
- Minolta MC 100mm F2.5 Rokkor-PF ($70):
Great bokeh wide open, good for portraits. f/5.6: very sharp. Very solid construction. Note: the MD version is similar optically.
- Minolta nMD 100mm F4 Macro ($125):
Very sharp even wide open! 0.45m MFD. Average bokeh, highly recommended for macro. 1:2 reproduction ratio (1:1 with optional extender).
Looking for the 135mm lenses? Grab the 100/2.5 instead (it’s sharper, with better bokeh and less CA!)
- Minolta MD 200mm F4 ($60):
Sharp wide open, excellent by f/5.6, some bokeh fringing, built in hood. Focusing is somewhat stiff.
- Minolta nMD 35-70mm F3.5 ($40):
Busy bokeh at f/3.5, great by f/5.6 (smooth bokeh, very sharp). Look for the last version with the “macro” function: 1:4 magnification at 70mm. A do-it-all champ!
- Minolta nMD 75-150mm F4 ($120):
Sharp (even wide open) with great bokeh. Very convenient for portraits.
Comprehensive Minolta lens websites: