Minolta MD 135mm 1:2.0 – review

Published by Tony on

Minolta MD 135mm 1:2.0 – vintage manual lens test and review

  • Official classification: New-MD
  • Collector’s classification: MD III

Yes, this is one of the best 135 mm lens ever. Yes, this is one of the most expensive lenses based on a classic scheme. Is it worth its price? It’s difficult to answer because the choice depends on the photographer.

Minolta MD 135mm 1:2.0 + X700

Minolta MD 135mm 1:2.0 (MD III, New-MD) specifications

minolta.eazypix.de index170
Name engraved on the lensMD
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 Shadebuilt-in
closefocus[m/ft]1.3/4.5
Dimension Ø x length [mm]79×96
Weight[g]725
Year1981
StyleMD III
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No.691-108

More data

Floating elementsNO (full support by autofocused adapters)
Aperture blades number8
Confidence in the test results of reviewed copies100%
Reviewed lens SN:1003051

Minolta MD 135mm 1:2.0 exterior

Minolta MD 135mm 1:2.0 mounted on Minolta X-700

This is a very suitable set – the camera and lens have the same design (1981 released)

Minolta MD 135mm 1:2.0 sharpness

Сlose-distance resolution test, minimal distance

Testing methods description

  • Target: 10-15 cm picture, printed on glossy photo paper
  • Distance:10% longer than minimal focus distance marked on the lens
  • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF.
  • The test was repeated for every F-stop on every focus position with manual focus adjustment for each shot. That is to avoid the effect of field curvature.
  • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

Scene preview

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

Test results (full version – all 9 positions)

Long-distance resolution test

Testing methods description

  • Target: cityscape
  • Distance: > 200 meters to center focus point
  • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF. The focus point is on the center only.
  • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

Scene preview

Test results

Minolta MD 135mm 1:2.0 aberrations

Vignetting

Geometric distortion

Coma aberrations

Chromatic aberrations

Short-distance bokeh

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 1.3m, plants are in 5m distance from the camera

Long-distance bokeh

Test conditions: the lens was focused on half distance on the scale (2.5m), buildings are on “infinity”-distance

Light bubbles bokeh

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

Light bubbles bokeh

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 1.3m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Other resources with tests:

Demo Photos dedicated article

Some examples:

Minolta MD 135mm 1:2.0 (or Minolta MD 135mm F/2.0, New-MD, MD III design) – overall conclusion

This is an amazing Queen of portraits. But to be honest, it has a few problems, the first – is the weight. Secondly – this lens is expensive enough and it is because the lens is rare and popular of collectors. Yes, this lens is from the top of the list with collectible and most attractive Minolta optics. But it is still cheaper than modern autofocused lenses which can give close results on photos. Although no other lens can provide the same bokeh – Minolta MD 135 F2 has a unique drawing on some combinations of aperture and distance to an object.

Surprisingly it works fine with auto-focus adapters like Techart-Pro. For some connoisseurs of optics, this can be a decisive factor, just imagine – real classics become autofocus on modern cameras.

And of course, it’s ready to make beautiful portraits from F2 – no soft if wide open. The lens has some noticeable aberrations, and even on little-close apertures, but again – it is a tax for stunning abilities. Photographers shouldn’t forget to use the build-in hood. So, finally, this lens has disadvantages, but anyway, the conclusion is predictable: this is the best choice for any style of photography on a 135mm focal distance.


2 Comments

Henrik · 2018-02-09 at 21:53

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.

    Tony · 2018-07-20 at 22:13

    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.

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