From it’s production date 1977 the Minolta MD 35 mm F 2.8 has been underrated, due to it’s more attractive sister, the even older and faster F 1.8. But in the current hype of vintage lenses the old Rokkor finally gets the justified appreciation it should have had a long time ago. It is one of the best of its kind and this is why.
The lens is very solid, the long focus throw is smooth and the clickable apertures can be nicely set from 2.8 to 22. It is a fairly common and easy to aquire lens on eBay. The Rokkor lenses are known as sturdy and reliable lenses, but above all they come to life on a digital camera. Adapters are available for all well-known brands that allow you to use the Minolta MD mount on a Sony, Nikon, Canon or Fuji.
35mm does better than 50mm. I’ve never quite grasped the popularity of the so called ‘standard’ 50mm, as it’s just not enough for street photography. Of course it is only a few steps backwards to 35 mm, but of course that does not work with a wall, fence or abyss. 35mm keeps the nice middle between 28mm wide angle and the limiting 50mm. This focal distance also lends itself well to portraits with a meaningful background. Or to photograph people in action or their work. It just adds that important bit extra. What makes the Minolta special is the fine color rendering and the particularly soft bokeh. Although the lens is coated or perhaps because the lens is coated, it gives soft vintage colors. It produces crisp images for which this lens is praised as the sharpest 35 mm lens ever made. The lens is sharp, yes, but not so contrasting in every detail that it loses its charm.
Even more beautiful than the color rendering is the butter-soft Bokeh, which shows a beautiful gradient from sharp to blurred. Together with the slightly soft sharpness in the edges, they give the photos the desired vintage look that so many are looking for.