Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Bargain that Rewards You

Quite often, we are blindsided by the promises of great optical quality by expensive lenses, and overlooked the bargains under our noses that are almost as good.  I am not saying more expensive lenses are not better, they often are, but do you get 100% better quality at 3 times the price?  I don't think so.  I am not a lens snob.  I use whatever that makes me happy.  In fact, I use more cheap lenses more often than expensive lenses.

Wide Open -- NEX-5 & Minolta MC Rokkor-PF 55mm f1.7. Click to see larger.

So what bargain are we talking about?  The Minolta MC Rokkor 55mm f1.7.  Truly this lens can be had for the cost of a lunch, very often at around $10 to $15.  This lens is all metal made, like the MC Rokkor-PF 58mm f1.2, MC Rokkor-PF 85mm f1.7, all of the MC Rokkors share the same great built quality.

Sharp as a knife @ f5.6 -- NEX-5 & Minolta MC Rokkor-PF 55mm f1.7. Click to see larger.

These Minolta manual focus 50mm f1.7 lenses are often over looked.  Partly because they really can't be used on other DSLRs without special mount adapters to make them focus to infinity.  But it's not a problem for Micro 4/3 and Sony NEX (and Samsung NX series) cameras.  I am sure they will go up in price once people find out how good they are.

Woman in red -- NEX-5 & Minolta MC Rokkor-PF 55mm f1.7 @ f8.

Really, optically, this lens is no worse than a modern 50mm f1.8, maybe except the flare control is not as good as the modern counterpart, but the built quality more than makes up for that.  If you have a Micro 4/3 or Sony NEX camera, try one.  Guaranteed you won't be disappointed.


  1. Amazing, the Minolta works to me better than the stock NEX lenses, I would forsake the autofocus over the better quality of shot any day. I do enjoy your shots with the more common to find lenses, I guess I find them easier to relate to.

    Great shots, again!


  2. @The Sound Gallery: The MC/MD lenses are well underrated, except the Rokkor 58/1.2, which everyone wants :) I still have quite a few MD/MC lenses, including the Rokkor 58mm f1.2 and the 85mm f1.7. Perhaps I should devote a whole week on MD/MC lenses :) Just got the adapter for MD to NEX last week.

  3. I'd love to see that, I think the build quality of the Minolta lenses make them a great bargain as an option for the NEX.

    I would truly love to see a week of shots of the Minolta's on the NEX or even more!!

  4. Guys, when you say the MC / MD lenses are underrated, I seem to recall in my youth hearing and reading that they were the top of the line. I guess its just the recent entrants into photography that discover the past after (either) becoming bored with the present or disillusioned with the costs of the automation.

    glad to hear they're still working for you :-)

  5. @obakesan: Indeed the Minoltas were quite a bit more expensive than the Pentax equivalent, when I was deciding on my first film SLR. I was drooling over the X-700. That picture of this camera with the 50mm f1.4 is still imprinted on my mind, but the Pentax was cheaper, hence that was what I bought.

    It's only when digital become so common that people have forgotten how good the old stuff is. The MD/MC lenses not being able to work on many DSLRs definitely dimish their value to some extend, but the 50/1.2, 85/1.7, etc, are still quite in demand and pretty expensive still.

  6. The first picture is amazing, smooth and tranquil.

    Basically, all the pictures you upload on this blog is really good, and they always come with interesting thoughts and conclusions. Though, what I'm missing is a walk through your way of post processing, specifically which parameters you usually edit and how much.

    Have you ever gone a day with only out-of-camera Jpgs from the NEX-5? Now with the new firmware, one can achieve quite artistic pictures with the camera alone.


  7. @Niklas, I shoot RAW as a rule, with the exception that when the RAW converter is not available, or I wanted to shoot B&W, then I would shoot RAW+JPG. My post processing is very simple. Perhaps, I will write a blog entry for how I process my pictures, which is very, very simple.

  8. Love your pictures and thank you for this review. I recently got the 55m as a package deal. These vintage lenses are quite fun. Here are my pics with the PF 55mm:

  9. I've a question. would this lens, including the Minolta Rokkor 50mm f1.4, fit a micro 4/3 mount? If it needs an adapter mount, which one would do this lens justice?

    1. Micro 4/3 cameras can take pretty much any SLR lenses ever made, and the Minolta MD lenses can work on them of course. You just need a cheap adapter. In general, I buy the cheapest adapter I can find on eBay. Do a search on eBay "NEX MD adapter" and you will see all kinds of adapters and prices. Most of them, regardless of price point, are no better or worse. Good luck.