Lens Review: Minolta Rokkor-X 50mm 1:1.4

5.14.19: Updated this review to reflect my experience with this lens on the a7II and a7RII

I absolutely adore this lens. First of all, I really enjoy shooting with 50mm. It’s great to throw it in your bag and run out the door, if you’re not sure what you want to shoot with. I take my camera with me to work almost every day in a rugged haversack that’s just big enough to carry it, and one or two lenses. Chances are, I’m taking a 50mm with me, and more often than not it’s probably going to be this lens — even over my “nifty fifty” Sony 50mm 1.8.

The second reason I adore this lens, is because I just love how it feels in my hands. I find, personally, that it makes my a7RII perfectly balanced — as all things should be… Overall, I really like the Minolta Rokkor manual lenses. They are amazing pieces of glass decades after they were made and sold.

The original production run of the Minolta Rokkor/Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4 lens ran from 1973 until 1977 with this particular version being manufactured in, or after 1974, when Minolta added the “X” after the Rokkor name.

Specifications

Diameter2.6in/65mm
Weight10.8oz/305g
Length1.8in/46mm
Focal Length/APS-C50mm/75mm
Filter Thread55mm
Maximum Aperturef/1.4
Minimum Aperturef/16
Aperture Blades6 straight
Elements/Groups7/5
Minimum Focusing Distance1.6ft/50cm

Construction and Build Quality

The build quality of this lens is fantastic. The lens body is pretty much all metal. The focus ring is knurled and give it a good, solid feel. It turns nice and smooth with just the right amount of “give.” The aperture ring clicks and I can work it without looking at it. From a purely cosmetic standpoint — literally one of the LAST things you should think about when picking a lens — it looks great on my a7RII. A very classic look.

Sony a7RII + Minolta Rokkor 50mm 1:1.4

Optical Qualities

Sharpness is good in the center pretty much across the board, however, the corners stay a bit soft until you stop down to at least f/8. I, personally, don’t really notice it, but I’m not a huge pixel-peeper, either. It is obviously going to be a drawback to this lens, though, if that’s important to you.

Vignetting can be a problem wide open, but once stopped down to 2.8 or narrower, it’s barely noticeable. The distortion is very minor and can be easily corrected in Lightroom. CA is thoroughly average, and the flare resistance is what you would expect from a lens of this age. This can result in loss of contrast if you’re not careful. I don’t have an original lens hood for this lens, so I purchased an aftermarket one, however, merely shielding the lens with my hand helped a lot.

US Capitol at Night

Bokeh

Bokeh is such a subjective topic, and while some may consider this lens’ bokeh a little busy, I quite like it. Some may not be a fan of the hexagonal bokeh a vintage lens like this will produce, but I consider a feature rather than a bug. I’m quite happy with the look it produces. In my opinion, it’s superior to the Sony 50mm 1:1.8.

Fall Color From a Japanese Maple

Sunstars

Again, just like bokeh, this is such a subjective subject. The sunstars this lens produces can be a mixed bag. When they’re poor, they’re REALLY poor, and when they’re at their best I LOVE them. With six straight blades, the 50mm 1.4 produces some nice six point stars. They can get kind of wonky with how they “fade” out depending on their size.

Looking Toward the Washington Monument From Across the Capitol Reflecting Pool

Bottom Line

ProsMixed BagCons
  • Pretty easy to find
  • Inexpensive
  • Great build quality
  • Size and weight
  • Bokeh
  • Sunstars

  • Flare resistance and CA
  • Vignetting below f/2.8
  • No AF

In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with the 50mm 1.4. I tend to use it more often than my more advanced Sony 50mm 1.8, and really enjoy the results it produces. Flaring can be an issue, so just try and be mindful of where the sun is when shooting. Overall I think this is a great lens that can be found pretty easily and  at a terrific price. if you come across one don’t hesitate to jump on it.

Showcase

District of Columbia World War I Memorial

Lincoln Memorial in all Its Grandeur

The Leaves are Finally Changing Color

Minolta XD11 SLR

Brown Leaves

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