Review: Minolta MD 135mm 1:2.0

Another Minolta New MD (MD III) 135mm F2 lens review.

Yes, this is on of the most expensive lenses based on classic scheme. Yes, the best 135 mm lens ever. Pay or not to pay – I can’t give such advice, but after I got one I never regretted it.

After getting a new lens, I always take a few technical shots to understand its strengths and weaknesses – usually it helps me a lot to start using unknown lens with much less of doubt. One day I decided that my data might be interesting for someone else and this site has been made.
MD_135_2_DSC00516.jpg

Minolta New-MD 135mm 1:2.0 parameters:

minolta.eazypix.de index 170
Name engraved on lens MD
f[mm] 135
A max [1/f] 2
A min[1/f] 22
Lens design [el.] 6
Lens design [gr.] 5
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm] 72
Lens Shade built-in
closefocus[m/ft] 1.3/4.5
Dimension Ø x length [mm] 79×96
Weight[g] 725
Year 1981
Style MD III
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No. 691-108

Floating elements NO (full support by autofocused adapters)
Aperture blades number 8
Average international price (sold items) 2019: USD 1000
Reviewed lens SN: 1003051

 


Lens exterior:

(Please, forgive me the dust on the lens, I never have the patience to clean objects for close-up photo sessions)

 

Another copy in better condition is mounted on Minolta X-700:

Lens code name – Arisu Shimada 島田愛里寿

Arisu Shimada – is a student of Selection University and its overall Sensha-dō commander. She skipped grades to reach university for this purpose, which has the side effect of leaving her relatively lonely in a university environment.
She is the heir to the Shimada Style, a “ninja” style known for its penchant of unanticipated moves and tactical unpredictability. The Shimada Style is the polar opposite of the Nishizumi Style. Arisu, like Miho (N-MD 50mm F1.2), feels pressure to uphold her family honor, part of which involves refusing to ally with Miho, despite holding her in admiration.

 


Resolution – close distance:

Test description: target is a 10×15 cm picture (printed, glossy photo paper), fixed on the wall by scotch. Distance – about 10% longer than minimal focus distance marked on the lens. Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. All groups of shots were repeated 9 times for every target position on all apertures from fully opened up to F16, ISO-100, WB – same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot. After all needed shots have been taken for one target position – I moved  the target to the next place.

test_scene_view300x200

Main idea – to exclude the field curvature affect on so close distance.

Of course, I can’t be absolutely accurate, but so many repeats of shots – 4 for corners, 2 for long side, 2 for short side are giving me insurance that test results are correct.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), then cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.

Scene preview:

_MD_135_2_0_F_preview2

Test results (selected version, easy to compare – 4 positions):

135_2_0_closedist_SHORT.jpg

Test results (full version – all 9 positions):

135_2_0_closedist__FULL.jpg


Resolution – long distance:

Test description: Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. Targets (buildings) were fixed by gravity power on the distances in more than 200 meters. All shots have been taken with apertures from fully opened up to F16. ISO-100. Shutter Speed – depends on light (camera A-mode), WB – fixed and the same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot to exclude focus-shift affect.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), then were cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.

Scene preview:

_MD_135_2_0_F_longdist_scene2

Test results:

135_2_LONGDIST.jpg


Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)


Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)


Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)


Close distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance (1.3m), plants were fixed in 5m distance from camera in front of the window with bright light from outside.

(frame scaled 1200×800, bokeh covers the frame partially)


Long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on half distance on the scale (2.5m), houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)


Light dots bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance + 10% of scale (about 1.7m), diodes were  fixed in 5m distance at the dark background.

(frame scaled 1200×800)


Another resources with tests:

www.rokkorfiles.com


Demo Photos dedicated article

Some of examples:

 


My overall conclusion about the Minolta N-MD 135mm 1:2.0F (Minolta MD III 135mm F/2):

Amazing Queen of portraits. I’m fan of this lens. Just one problem – it’s heavy, so I don’t like to use it in long trips. But use it in long trips anyway… And one more thing – this lens is expensive enough and someone says that the price so high because the lens is rare and popular of collectors. Looks true (even my sample in not a good condition isn’t cheap). But it is still cheaper than modern autofocused lenses which can give the close results on photos. Although no another lens can provide the same bokeh – Minolta MD 135 F2 has unique drawing. Whether you like it or not – depends on your preferences. Surprisingly it works fine with auto-focus adapters like Techart-Pro. And of course it’s ready to make beautiful portraits from F2 – no soft wide opened (!). Of course lens has an some noticeable aberrations, and even not on wide opened apertures, but again – it is tax for bokeh character. Don’t forget to use build-in hood. So, as you can see – this lens has disadvantages, but in anyway, my conclusion – it’s the best choice for any styles of photography on 135mm focal distance.


This lens took part in battles:

MD13520_MD13528_.png

2 thoughts on “Review: Minolta MD 135mm 1:2.0”

  1. I had that lens, it was spectacular… Until the aperture had the oily blades problems. I left it in the capable hands of Minolta technicians, or so I thought, at the Minolta head office in Stockholm. When I got it back it had a big finger print inside one of the front lens elements and I had to put it back for service again and after that the lens was never right, the sharpness was fuzzy. I’m not sure why but I think they either put it back incorrectly or decentered it massively.

    Like

    1. Hello Henrik. Now I know how to remove oil from blades without full disassembling of aperture element, but it looks like a too late to tell it for you. I feel sorry for your lens. If you plan to fix it and you need information about how the lens should be looks inside and how to properly disassemble it – let me know, I’ll be glad to help you.

      Like

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