How Good are Minolta MD-series Lenses?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by FilmOnly, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    Hello, all,

    I have dabbled in various "classic" 35mm MF systems, and have found Pentax screwmount gear and Canon FD mount equipment to my liking. I am thinking of picking up a Minolta X-series body and an MD lens or two. I gather that, since the major 35mm manufacturers were very competitve in the golden age, the Minolta MD lenses must be pretty good...or perhaps very good. Any opinions? Any tips?

    Regards,
    Glen
     
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  2. Jersey Vic

    Jersey Vic Member

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    I've used Nikkor and Contax Zeiss 35mm lenses as well as Minolta MD and think they're on a par with anyone. I love my 50mm f1.4 and my 100mm
    f4 macro. The 24mm is also supposed to be among the best.

    I've found this list to be helpful: http://www.rokkorfiles.com/Lens Reviews.html

    Camera-wise, my x700 has been a problem free, compact, lightweight and durable joy to use since my dad gave it to me in 1984. The meter is remarkably accurate and I've even dropped it a couple of times.
     
  3. MikeM1977

    MikeM1977 Member

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    Minolta MD lenses are excellent and very competitive with the best of Nikon, Canon, Pentax, etc. Even Leica went to Minolta for some lens and camera body designs. Used MC/MD glass is an absolute bargain compared to other used gear.

    I especially love my Minolta MD 24mm lens.

    The X-700 is a decent camera. I would say the Minolta XD-11 is better, but unfortunately they are prone to electronic problems that are difficult to fix. The X-700 also has had problems with a capacitor, but it is very easily replaced. A common tactic was to find "broken" X-700 bodies on eBay for next to nothing, and then replace the $0.50 cent capacitor and resell for full price. Also if you can find an X-570 instead of an X-700, that is preferable.
     
  4. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I thank you for your comments, Jersey Vic and MikeM1977. The X-700 sounds like a camera that would be similar to my AE-1 Program (though it has aperture instead of shutter priority--no big difference to me)--I just love the meter in the AE-1 P...and the camera handles very well and has a very nice feel, too.

    Regards,
    Glen
     
  5. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    If you want complete control pick up an older camera. I had an XG-M for 20 years and used a sr-T101 for the last five. The sr can be run completely mechanical, no battery. All t you need that for is the needle meter. As to the MC/MD mount lenses, they can't be beat. The old Rokkors are the best by far IMHO, but I have a few good Quantarays and Vivitars over the years. The Older Minoltas make some wonderfully adaptable systems and are well worth checking out.
     
  6. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I forgot to ask: why is the X-570 preferable?

    Also, what is the difference between MC and MD glass? I gather it is probably stop-down vs. open aperture metering? I have been looking at KEH, eBay, etc., and the MC glass seems dirt cheap. :smile:
     
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  7. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    The MD added another tab to the lens to tell the body that it was at minimum aperture, for program mode.

    Also, some of the MD lenses were redesigned to be smaller and lighter. For example, the Rokkor files website claims that the redesigned 85mm/f2 was slightly better than the larger 85mm/f1.7.

    I agree that the MC lenses can be a bargain.
     
  8. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    Thanks, folks...

    So, an MC lens will mount properly on, say, an XG-M, X-700, or X-570 body? Also, do the MC lenses provide full-aperture metering?

    Thanks again.
     
  9. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    Yes, the MC lenses meter at full aperture. In some cases, the build quality is better than the MD lenses. Optically, there are some outstanding Minolta lenses. The 135mm f/2.8 is super sharp with beautiful bokeh and many of the primes are excellent. The X-570 is preferable because it has "match led" metering. If you're using manual mode, it will show what the meter reads *and* what you set for the shutter speed. So you have better control of metering. The X-700 has program mode, but no match led metering.
     
  10. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Thanks Vick, for making me feel old. "your dad gave you one one in 1984" I worked in a store back then in the dark ages, and sold them by the dozen which wasn't difficult because they were such a nice camera, In fact I still know two of the customers I sold them to who are still using them.
    It's a great shame that a company making such good products has gone down the tubes.
     
  11. selenium96

    selenium96 Member

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    I bought my first SRT-101 in 1972 and still use it along with an X-570 and another SRT-101 I pick up along the way. My first and still favorite lens is the 58mm f/1.4 MC Rokkor-PF. I have an MD 28mm f/2.8, an MD 50mm f/1.7, an MD 135mm f/3.5 and recently pick up an MD 35-70mm f/3.5 zoom. My only non-Minolta glass is a Sigma 70-300 f/1.4-5.6 APO Macro that is a terrific lens. After the 58mm all the others were picked up used at bargain prices except the Sigma which I bought new. I agree with Jersey Vic that the ROKKORFILES website is a great place to get info on these fine lenses.

    Regards,

    Steve O.
     
  12. eric

    eric Member

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    The 20mm lens is AWESOME, so is the 24mm, and so is the 50mm 1.7 and 1.4, (the older 1.7 50mm can focus so close, it'll seem like a macro lens!) the 50mm macro is wonderful, the 85mm 1.7 is the BEST 35mm lens I have. Something about the bokeh on the Minoltas are just so much nicer and different than Nikkors.

    This is from the 50mm 1.4
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    I will never forget my 50 f/1.4 . . .
     
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  15. isaacc7

    isaacc7 Member

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    I was in the camera selling biz at the end of the Minolta era. They did make some nice stuff, but they were their own worst enemy. The beginning of the end came when they went to auto-focus, they just couldn't keep things consistent enough to make people feel comfortable with the system. The program cards, the different lens mounts (from MF to AF to AF with power zoom to APS AF), and the wildly different control layouts made it tough to sell after a while.

    If you like shooting with primes, you can do very well (especially for the money) with MD/MC lenses. A real hidden gem was their APS SLRs, they made the best lenses of any APS system IMO. Anyway, it is too bad to see one of the great, innovative companies go under...


    Isaac
     
  16. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I thank you for the nice shot, Eric, and I thank all of you for the informative comments.

    I have narrowed my body options to the XG-M, X-570, and X-700. I will be looking for a nice one. I am not quite sure which body to go with yet. I tend to prefer working in metered manual mode. Also, I use a light meter (Sekonic L-308S) about 90-95% of the time.

    I just love using my AE-1 Program in manual mode. It has the aperture readout in red (LED) on the right. I like being able to see what the camera offers for metering, and compare it to my light meter--and the Canon lets me do this. Thus, which of the three bodies mentioned above would allow me to work in this manner?

    I also like the soft touch of the AE-1P shutter release. How do the three Minolta's compare? I avoid cameras that need more pressure on the shutter release, as it is bad for hand-held shooting. There is nothing more defeating than getting the exposure, composition, and focusing right, but having to worry about camera shake because of poor design. I got rid of my Nikon N80 for this reason.

    Thanks,
    Glen
     
  17. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    having to worry about camera shake because of poor design

    Not an issue, really. We somehow managed sharp images at 1/15 with mechanical shutters 40 years ago.

    And the Minolta lenses are true bargains. Lovely. Leitz and Minolta were very sympatico,
    shared a similar philosophy about image making.
     
  18. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    As I am discerning about the three bodies mentioned above, I am also looking at various MC and MD lenses. I have noticed that some MD lenses do not have the "Rokkor" designation? Is this good or bad--or neither?
     
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  19. MikeM1977

    MikeM1977 Member

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    Neither. They stopped using the "Rokkor" designation in later lenses. The quality of the glass is generally the same. Older "MD Rokkor" will tend to have more metal parts than the newest lenses. Just avoid the "Celtic" line of Minolta lenses as that was their lower-priced bargain line.
     
  20. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    You really want the X-570 because the XGM and the X700 don't give you a comparative reading in the finder for manual mode.
     
  21. JohnArs

    JohnArs Subscriber

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    The MD is the newer and in many times also the better optically!
    The MD f 4 70-210 mm Zoomlens was also build for leica if I remember correctly and it was an amazing lens even full open!

    Armin
     
  22. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Dude, if you have got to this point there are differences between the three. I used a Minolta XG-M for twenty years and an X-700 off and on for about 10. Find one and buy it. Don't over think this one. Just get your camera and have a blast.
     
  23. Zathras

    Zathras Subscriber

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    Why would you avoid the "Celtic" lenses? I picked up a clean 200mm Celtic for 5 bucks at a garage sale and I think it is a fine lens. I think that the quality is excellent considering it is a "bargain" lens. Not trying to pick a fight here, just curious.
     
  24. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    All I can say about Minolta lenses , and for that matter matter marque lenses from any of the leading manufacturers, Nikon Canon Pentax Leica etc. is the question we should be asking ourselves is, am I good enough photographer to justify owning them ?
     
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  25. dimestoreprophet

    dimestoreprophet Member

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    hello, i would like to throw my 2 cents in, although it reflects what everyone else has already said. my first camera was a minolta x370 that someone gave me. i then switched to an autofocus canon eos elan 7e but sold it because it failed in my naive expectations that it would make better pictures. (hence, they got worse) recently, i went back to minolta md / x - series manual. and yes, i deliberately switched back, not just circumstance this time, my lovely wife even gave me the green light to buy any camera i wanted. Here is the great minolta gear i have accumulated over the past year: body: x-570, 24mm 2.8 md, 35mm 2.8 md. 50mm 1.7 md, 85mm 2 md, 135mm 2.8 md, a 360px flash, an autowinder.

    seriously, all of these lenses are among the best of their type ever made by any manufacturer. im especially impressed with my cheapest lens, (well, beside the 50mm) that is the 135mm, it is unusually sharp. i also am very impressed with the flash capability, even though it is "old" ttl, its exposure accuracy is on par with my (previous) canon eos elan 7e. the body is very easy and fast to use in manual mode (because the aperture, shutter, and recommended metering is shown in the viewfinder) and the meter is very accurate. in fact, the meter is so good, that i often kick myself for overcompensating and making bad exposures when i dont trust the meter as much as i should.

    i recommend the x570 over the x700 or any other minolta. however, these two are almost identical. the x700's program mode is good, but totally misses the point of using this kind of camera. it was advanced in its day but the program mode is sort of useless now for anyone who knows how to use a camera. yes, all md / mc lenses are useable on x series cameras, except for some really obscure and expensive ones that you'll probably never buy. mc stands for "metered coupling" which basically was Minolta's version of "full aperture metering", so yes, full aperture metering is exactly what they do. i believe the most recent md lenses have improved coatings, more plastic in their construction, and upgraded optical designs over their mc counterparts. but i dont think this will make any difference in the quality of your images. go for whatever your wallet allows

    as for durability, the x series are still serviceable. even if you do break a body, they are plentiful and cheap on ebay. if you decide to go with minolta, your pictures will be as good as they can be, your lenses will last forever, and you will have some money left over to take your loved-one out for a nice dinner. minolta makes everyone happy.

    dsp
     
  26. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I thank you for your thoughtful reply, dsp. I had decided to go with the XG-M; however, your comments (and some others, too) are making me think I should go with the X-570. I like the additional info in the 570's viewfinder, but I am having a harder time coming up with an X-570 in nice shape. The XG-Ms are rather plentiful--and are cheaper, too. In either case, I will start with an MD Rokkor 50/1.7 and an MC Rokkor 28/2.8. I know that all seem to hail the 24/2.8, but at nearly four times the price, I do not know if it is worth it (or practical) for me to go for the 24 (I have compared KEH prices). I gather the MC 28/2.8 is pretty nice, too.

    Before I forget: what do you think of Minolta's build quality? I am not so much thinking in terms of reliability issues (as all cameras seem to have these issues), but more in terms of the build itself (i.e. craftsmanship). Since I have gotten into Canon gear recently, I am comparing my AE-1 Program to my Pentax gear. While the build of my Spotmatics is tough to beat, I think I prefer my AE-1P to my ME Super. Things seem to be nice and "tight" on the AE-1P (and the winder A2).

    Thanks,
    Glen