Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Minolta MC Rokkor 58mm f1.2 vs Canon FD 55mm f1.2 SSC -- Part I

Today we have the Minolta MC Rokkor 58mm f1.2 and Canon FD 55mm f1.2 SSC.  Both lenses are from about the same era so that they should compare well with each other.  As with the last round, one of the lenses is slightly longer than the other, which help to tell the pictures apart, but just in case, I took a picture of the lens that I was going to take pictures with, so that I know for sure which lens took what pictures.

Again, the pictures are straight out of the camera in jpeg format.  No processing performed.

Bokeh -- NEX-5 & Canon FD 55mm f1.2 @ f1.2. Click for larger.

Bokeh -- NEX-5 & Minolta MC Rokkor 58mm f1.2 @ f1.2. Click for larger.

The f1.2 lenses are super-premium line of lenses for most companies.  It's a show piece of their lens engineering capabilities, so it makes sense that the lenses are built well, and optically excellent.  If you look at Canon, for example, with its EF 50mm f1.4 and EF 50mm f1.2L, you will know what I mean.  The price difference is $450 vs $1885 CND as of June 29, 2011 at Henry's.

Both lenses exhibit quite a bit of CA wide open, although the Minolta shows a bit less.  In truth, taking pictures in the sunny day light at f1.2 is asking for trouble, unless neutral density filters are used.  Well, I didn't use any.  I figured that it's for comparison, both lens would over expose for the same amount anyway.

Center Sharpness compared. Click to see larger.

Both lenses are acceptable wide open, but the Canon is quite a bit sharper with better definition than the Minolta at f1.2.  The sample above, the light changed a bit between lens change and the Canon is a bit more overexposed than the Minolta.  By f4, both lenses are extremely sharp.

Full frame for the crop above.

The edge, if you can call that on the crop sensor, is also VERY good, even at f1.2.  I am sure would be quite a bit worse on full frame.  There is almost no difference between the two at the far edge.

Edge compared at f1.2.

One interesting thing about the comparison is that the colour stands out between the images from the two lenses.  The Canon is quite a bit cooler in colour and the Minolta is warmer. I personally like the Canon colour better, but I am sure some will prefer the Minolta.

A rose by any other name -- NEX-5 & Canon FD 55mm f1.2 @ f1.2

Pink Rose - NEX-5 & Minolta MC Rokkor 58mm f1.2 @ f1.2

There is very little to choose between the two lenses.  Both lenses produce very nice pictures. The advantage goes to the Minolta MC Rokkor if you intend to convert the lens to EF mount.  The Minolta is very easy to do and completely reversible.  I did it with a Jim Buchanan conversion kit.  The Minolta is currently in EOS mount.  The FD lens, on the other hand, need major surgery in order to have it converted to EOS mount.  If you are handy and have tools, you should check out this site.  It in Chinese, but have very good pictures that shows what needs to be done.

Next time, we will look at the low light use of the two lenses, and see how they compare.


  1. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)

  2. Thank you for the posting. I think you might have mislabeled the "Edge comparison" photos. What was labeled as Minolta picture was "very slight over exposed" as compare to the "canon" photo and with less contrast. Also the image displays less coverage which should not be if the focal length is longer.I simply go by what you have shown in the "center sharpness comparison" pictures. please double check. Your efforts are very much appreciated.