In this post I want to share my experience with the Minolta MC Tele Rokkor 135mm on a micro four thirds (MFT) camera. This also my first lens review. But it won’t be too technical since I am more interested how the results look like.
For MFT cameras there is still a limited choice of telephoto lenses. There are some telephoto zoom lenses available which cover a focal range up to 300mm, but still no telephoto prime lenses. The Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 lens and Samyang (aka Rokinon) 85mm f/1.4 are currently the longest focal length you can get. Well…there are reflex lenses from Tokina and Samyang available (both 300mm), but the optical quality of reflex lenses is less good compared to a prime lens. One great thing of the MFT system is, that the flange focal distance in MFT mirrorless cameras is shorter than in DSLR or SLR cameras, and the diameter of the lens mount is small. This gives the possibility to mount a great variety of third party, vintage or legacy lenses to a MFT camera.
Quite a while ago I discovered Minolta Rokkor lenses. They are famous for their excellent optical qualities, and I love the saturated colors and contrast rich images made with Rokkor lenses. Since a telephoto lens was still missing in my collection, I decided to look for a 135mm lens from Minolta. They are very common and it was easy to find one in good condition and for a good price (at least the f/2.8 and f/3.5 versions, the f/2.0 is rare and expensive). For this copy I paid something around 90 Euros and it is in a pretty good condition, no scratches, no oil, except some dust inside. Which could be cleaned easily. The lens is mounted with a lens mount adapter from KIPON on an Olympus OM-D E-M10. Due to the crop factor of 2, the field of view of the lens is equivalent to the field of view of a 270mm telephoto lens. Thanks to the in-body image stabilization in the Olympus OM-D cameras, you can shot handheld with this lens in most situation.
Only two words: very good. The lens is made of metal and glass, and feels very solid. It weights 517g and is about 9cm long. For MFT it is already quite heavy and big, but not too big. I have a Sigma zoom lens (24-70mm f/2.8) which is a pain to use on MFT cameras duo to its size and weight. Back to the Rokkor lens. The focus ring is nicely damped and with the wide rubber ring gives a very good grip. The aperture has 6 blades and the aperture control ring rotates easy. For my taste there is a little bit too less resistance, so you can easy miss a stop. Perhaps this is only on my copy. The aperture has 7 stops (2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22) and stops in between, except for 2.8 to 4 and 16 to 22. A nice feature is the built-in lens hood.
This is a pure manual lens, without any auto-focus or other electronics. Focusing is quite easy, and with magnification and focus peaking you have good control in the camera. A complete turn of the focus ring from closest focusing distance of 1.5 meter to infinity goes 270°. This allows very precise focusing. With the lens mount adapter the focus goes only a tiny bit beyond infinity.
The image quality is great. And as most Rokkor lenses it produces these beautiful saturated colors.
The lens is sharp from corner to corner. Wide open at f/2.8 the image is a little bit soft, but only noticeable when zoomed into the image. Stopped down one stop the lens gets tack sharp and has its sweet spot at around f/8. At f/8 the images are razor sharp. Stopped further down to f/16 and f/22 the images getting noticably soft. Below is an image I shot for testing the sharpness at different apertures. The red squares indicate the positions where I took the 100% crops.
Bokeh – The lens makes a very nice soft, creamy bokeh. Wide open at f/2.8 the background blurs nicely together. Because of the long focal length the depth of field is at widest aperure very thin. This can make parts of your subject out of focus. Even stopped down to f/8 you still get a nice bokehlicious background.
As mentioned before, the colors produced by the Rokkor lens are great. It has some chromatic aberation when shoting wide open, or in high contrast situations. But it is nothing really disturbing. Actually this gives the image some kind of glow and a special look. Instead of describing colors and performance of the lens, I show you some examples.
More photos in higher resolution can be found on my flickr here.
In my opinion this is a great lens with a fantastic image quality: tack sharp, nice and saturated colors, good contrast, no visible distortion. If you don’t mind manual focus, then this lens is a good alternative for a telephoto prime lens on a MFT camera or other mirrorless systems. And you can get it for a pretty decent price.