MINOLTA'S ECONOMY NORMAL LENSES


Minolta wanted to provide a way to allow people of any income bracket to afford a quality, Minolta camera.  One way to reduce the cost was to sell lower-priced cameras with fewer features and with slower normal lenses.  Over the years, Minolta produced a number of these lenses.  These were typically sold with lower-tiered cameras such as the SRT100 and SRT200.  These lenses were not, as many people assume, lower quality optics.  In fact, many of them outperform their more expensive brethren -- no kidding. The faster normal lenses, such as f1.4, need additional elements to correct for the aberrations caused by their faster maximum apertures.  That's great, but the extra elements only correct to a certain extent, not completely, and it drives up the cost of the lens -- substantially.  These slower, economy, normal lenses don't suffer as much from the aberrations of their more-expensive siblings, and -- to top it off -- they were made in some unusual focal lengths as well.  The 45mm f2.0, for example, is preferred by many photographers as the perfect normal lens, since it is closer to the normal perspective of the human eye than the other normal lenses in the 50mm, 55mm and 58mm focal lengths.  

Minolta made normal lenses in a variety of focal lengths (from 45 to 58) and a variety of f-stops (from f2.8 to f1.2):

Here are the economy normal lenses in chronological order.

The competition

There are very few, slow-speed, normal lenses from the competitors.  These were all cheap alternatives to help cut prices and boost camera sales.  Should you use one, it will give you cheap results -- if you can find one -- like the Kalimar 50mm f2.8.

MINOLTA'S ECONOMY NORMAL LENSES

LENS FEATURES

IMAGE

OPTICAL FORMULA (ELEMENTS/GROUPS)

FOCAL LENGTH: 55mm
f-STOPS: 2-22
PERIOD: 1959-1960
INSCRIPTION: MINOLTA AUTO ROKKOR - PF 1:2 f=55mm
FILTER: 52
DIAPHRAGM: auto
MC: no
MD: no
CLOSE FOCUS: 1.75'
SIZE: 1.4"x2.4"
WEIGHT: 7oz.

This lens was one of the ways Minolta made the SR-1 a less expensive camera. The SR-2 had a fast f1.8 optic, and a f2.0 lens was cheaper to make and sell. This lens has the original, rotating diaphragm plate on the back, and will only work at all f-stops with the SR-2 and the SR-1 (models a and b) cameras. This lens has LV markings and an f-stop lock tab, but lacks a DOF button.

DESIGN: 6/5

FOCAL LENGTH: 55mm
f-STOPS: 2-16
PERIOD: 1960-1964
INSCRIPTION: MINOLTA AUTO ROKKOR - PF 1:2 f=55mm
FILTER: 52
DIAPHRAGM: auto
MC: no
MD: no
CLOSE FOCUS: 1.75'
SIZE: 1.4"x2.4"
WEIGHT: 7oz.

This was an updated version of the previous 50mm f2.0 Auto Rokkor (see above).  It was the same size and optical formula, but it had a new laterally-moving diaphragm tab. With this feature, the lens was able to provide fully-automatic diaphragm action with the new SR-3 (and later) cameras. Over the course of its lifetime, it can be found with and without LV markings.  The f-stop lock tab is typically replaced with a DOF tab -- a more useful feature for a fully-automatic lens.

DESIGN: 6/5

FOCAL LENGTH: 45mm
f-STOPS: 2.8-16
PERIOD: 1964-1966
INSCRIPTION: MINOLTA ROKKOR - TD 1:2.8 f=45mm
FILTER: 46
DIAPHRAGM: auto
MC: no
MD: no
CLOSE FOCUS: 3'
SIZE: 0.6"x2.5"
WEIGHT: 4.5oz.

A very hard-to-find "pancake" lens -- very small, and highly sought after. The smaller aperture allowed for fewer glass elements. It is the same lens design as that used on the Minolta ER SLR. The focusing ring on this lens was so thin that the lens was sold in two versions (see below).  This one is marked with feet. There just wasn't enough room to put both scales on the same same lens! It is an Auto-Rokkor even though the lens just says "Rokkor". There was no room on this lens for LV numbers or a stop-down lever.

DESIGN: 4/3

FOCAL LENGTH: 45mm
f-STOPS: 2.8-16
PERIOD: 1964-1966
INSCRIPTION: MINOLTA ROKKOR - TD 1:2.8 f=45mm
FILTER: 46
DIAPHRAGM: auto
MC: no
MD: no
CLOSE FOCUS: 0.9 meters
SIZE: 0.6"x2.5"
WEIGHT: 4.5oz.

A very hard-to-find "pancake" lens -- very small, and highly sought after. The smaller aperture allowed for fewer glass elements. It is the same lens design as that used on the Minolta ER SLR. The focusing ring on this lens was so thin that the lens was sold in two versions (see above).  This one is marked with meters. There just wasn't enough room to put both scales on the same same lens! It is an Auto-Rokkor even though the lens just says "Rokkor". There was no room on this lens for LV numbers or a stop-down lever.

DESIGN: 4/3

FOCAL LENGTH: 53mm
f-STOPS: 2-16
PERIOD: 1964-1965
INSCRIPTION: MINOLTA AUTO ROKKOR - PF 1:2 f=53mm
FILTER: 52
DIAPHRAGM: auto
MC: no
MD: no
CLOSE FOCUS: 1.75'
SIZE: 1.3"x2.3"
WEIGHT: 6.8oz.

You read it right, 53mm. Why 53mm? Who knows? Maybe it was just truth in advertising since most 55mm lenses aren't exactly 55mm anyway. The six element design made it a quality shooter, although it was designed to be an inexpensive, budget lens. Together with the earlier 45mm f2.8 pancake lens, the diminutive 53mm f2.0 might have been the inspiration for Minolta's complete line of compact lenses (see below). It has a six-blade aperture and a stop-down lever, but it lacks the half-stop f-stop clicks and the LV numbers.

DESIGN: 6/5

FOCAL LENGTH: 55mm
f-STOPS: 2-16
PERIOD: 1965-1971
INSCRIPTION: MINOLTA AUTO ROKKOR - PF 1:2 f=55mm
FILTER: 52
DIAPHRAGM: auto
MC: no
MD: no
CLOSE FOCUS: 1.75'
SIZE: 1.4"x2.4"
WEIGHT: 7.0oz.

In 1965, Minolta came out with a series of "compact" Rokkor lenses. It was a select group of Rokkors from 35mm to 135mm that were a little thinner, a little shorter and weighed a little less than their predecessors.  The 53mm f2.0 Auto Rokkor (see above) was already compact, and that lens was updated to a 55mm optic and added to the new "compact" line. The size and weight of the lens was actually a little greater than its predecessor, but the optical formula remained basically the same.  

DESIGN: 6/5

FOCAL LENGTH: 55mm
f-STOPS: 1.9-16
PERIOD: 1971-1973
INSCRIPTION: MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC ROKKOR - PF 1:1.9 f=55mm
FILTER: 52
DIAPHRAGM: auto
MC: yes
MD: no
CLOSE FOCUS: 1.5'
SIZE: 2.5"x1.5"
WEIGHT: 7.9oz.

During the late 1960s, there was no budget-oriented, meter-coupled, normal lens for the new SRT101 camera. A new lens to the Minolta line-up of SLR lenses was born to fill the gap. It first appeared with the SRT100 of 1971 which helped lower the sales price of that camera -- just like the earlier Auto Rokkor 55mm f2.0 (see above) lowered the cost of the original SR-1. In addition, the 55mm f1.9 was the first Minolta lens, and the only MC Rokkor, that used a rubber waffle on the focusing ring. It is different from the waffle that was later used on the MC Rokkor-X line, but it is the same waffling that appeared on the Celtic lines of lenses. This lens was designed to be a less expensive optic and it was from this conception that the MC Celtic line was created. The distance scale on the lens is only marked in feet, because the lens was only marketed in the US.

DESIGN: 6/5

FOCAL LENGTH: 50mm
f-STOPS: 2-16
PERIOD: 1973-1977
INSCRIPTION:
EARLY STYLE: MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC ROKKOR-X PF 1:2 f=50mm
LATE STYLE: MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC ROKKOR-X 1:2 f=50mm
FILTER: 55
DIAPHRAGM: auto
MC: yes
MD: no
CLOSE FOCUS: 1.75'
SIZE: 2.5"x1.6"
WEIGHT: 8.5oz.

Not just an updated version of the MC Rokkor 50mm 1.9 -- with the improved cosmetics and lenses coating of the MC Rokkor-X series. This lens might be the sharpest lens that Minolta ever produced -- excluding the macro, micro, and bellows lens. Why? It's simple design and MC coating. The other 50mm lenses with wider apertures have to try to make corrections for various aberrations -- stopping down helps, but if you don't need to stop down then there is no a problem. It was sold with the SRT200.

DESIGN: 6/5

FOCAL LENGTH: 50mm
f-STOPS: 2-16
PERIOD: 1977-1978
INSCRIPTION: MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MD ROKKOR-X 1:2 f=50mm
DESIGN: 6/5
FILTER: 55
DIAPHRAGM: auto
MC: yes
MD: yes
CLOSE FOCUS: 1.75'
SIZE: 2.5"x1.6"
WEIGHT: 8.5oz.

An updated version of the MC Rokkor-X 50mm 2.0 with the typical changes of the MD Rokkor-X series. It was short-lived and quickly replaced by the 45mm f2.0 (see below).

DESIGN: 6/5

FOCAL LENGTH: 45mm
f-STOPS: 2-16
PERIOD: 1978-1981
INSCRIPTION: MINOLTA MD ROKKOR-X 45mm 1:2 LENS MADE IN JAPAN ø49mm
FILTER: 49
DIAPHRAGM: auto
MC: yes
MD: yes
CLOSE FOCUS: 2'
SIZE: 2.5"x1.2"
WEIGHT: 4.5oz.

Like its predecessor, this lens was designed as an inexpensive, entry-level lens, but is often seen for sale at high prices. Perhaps this is because people confuse it with the earlier, rare 45mm f2.8 lens (see above). It is a competent shooter, with a very pleasing perspective because it has an angle of view close to that of human vision. Perhaps that's why Minolta opted for a 45mm design -- or perhaps because it could be made a little smaller than a 50mm lens. In any event, it is only single coated, like the Celtic lenses, but this is completely adequate for nearly every situation. If you want the smallest and lightest normal lens possible, without breaking the bank, this is the one to get.

DESIGN: 6/5

FOCAL LENGTH: 50mm
f-STOPS: 2-22
PERIOD: 1981-present
INSCRIPTION: MINOLTA MD 50mm 1:2 JAPAN ø49mm
FILTER: 49
DIAPHRAGM: auto
MC: yes
MD: yes
CLOSE FOCUS: 1.5'
SIZE: 2.5"x1.4"
WEIGHT: 5.4oz.

In the end, Minolta opted to revert back to the 50mm focal length for its economy normal lens. Perhaps the 45mm option was too hard for consumers to relate to. Perhaps new buyers thought they were being short-changed by a shorter focal length. Who knows. In any event, the MD 50mm f2.0 was an updated version of the MD Rokkor-X 50mm 2.0 (see above) with the typical changes of the MD Minolta series. But unlike the 45mm f2.0, the 50mm f2.0 was far from compact. It's almost as large as the MD 50mm f1.4! Perhaps this was an attempt to give the consumer "more" product. The 49mm filter thread seems too small and out of place -- and unnecessary. Besides the size and weight, it is a top-quailty performer -- never marketed in the US, so it can be hard to find.

DESIGN: 6/5

COPYRIGHT @ 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 by Joe McGloin.

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The material on this website is protected by US Federal copyright laws. It cannot be copied or used in any manner without specific approval from the owner.