Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Minolta Rokkor-X RF 250mm f5.6 Alternative

If you have been looking for a small mirror lens lately, you have no doubt checking out the Minolta RF 250mm f5.6, arguably the smallest 35mm format mirror lens in the world. The tiny lens (for the focal length) is about the same size as the Rokkor 58mm f1.2; very desirable lens for hand-holdability and discreteness, plus its image quality is quite OK as mirror lens goes. But the price of this lens will make you shake your head in disbelieve: more than $1000! That's a lot of money for a lens that does not have outstanding image quality. The world has gone crazy.

Enter the Makinon 300mm f5.6. Slightly longer focal length and slightly larger but has the same f5.6 aperture as the Minolta counterpart, but at about 5% of the price.  The Minolta has a 62mm filter size, while the Makinon has 67mm filter size. The old Outlet Store used to sell these lenses for around $60, but now they are going for almost $200 on eBay. Insanity! I have had a few of them over the years, but eventually got rid of them due to lack of image quality when compared to glass lenses. I bought another one this Sunday at the Camera Show in Woodbridge for $40, just because I am curious how it would compare to the Minolta.

As it turns out, there is not a whole lot of differences between the two lenses. Both of them are well made and focus smoothly and both weigh about the same. The Minolta has a glass filter built-in the front while the Makinon does not. One feature the Makinon has over the Minolta, is the close-focus capability; the Makinon has a pseudo macro magnification ratio of 1:4 and focuses much closer than the 2.5m of the Minolta. In terms of image quality, the Minolta has a very slight edge in contrast and sharpness, but not much more. Definitely not worth the outrageous price difference.

The Makinon 300mm f5.6 is a good alternative to the Minolta, if you can live with a slightly larger size (few millimeters taller and a bit wider in diameter). Definitely worth $40, but not $200, in my opinion.

Left: Makinon 300mm f5.6, Middle: Minolta RF 250mm f5.6, Right: Canon nFD 50mm f1.2

Lunch Break - Sony A7 & Makinon 300mm f5.6. Click for larger.

Red Chairs - Sony A7 & Makinon 300mm f5.6. Click for larger.

Reflections - Sony A7 & Makinon 300mm f5.6. Click for larger.

Walking out of the tunnel - Sony A7 & Makinon 300mm f5.6. Click for larger.

Tree Trunks - Sony A7 & Makinon 300mm f5.6. Click for larger.


  1. gee, sometimes that circular bokeh really works, like in "walking out of the tunnel" and "Tree Trunks"


    1. I don't mind too much about the donut shapes :)

  2. What can you recommend a lens: Makinon 300mm f5.6 or Spiratone 300mm f5.6 or Samyang 300. Primarily quality for Fuyi X-E1, Thank you.

    1. I don't have any experience with either Spiratone or the Samyang, but the Makinon seems quite ok for the price.