If there is one lens that lives on my XE-7 so much so that I feel it’s fixed to the camera, it is the Rokkor-X 45/2. This lens is a beautiful piece of glass that honestly, I wouldn’t want to replace with a 35mm focal length for my Minolta kit. It’s the lens that went through all of a trip to Disney World and Universal without being taken off the camera despite bringing a 135mm lens with which did more on the digital a6000 then on the XE-7. And while it looks a little silly strapped onto the beast that is the XE-7, as a pancake lens it doesn’t add much to the overall weight of the camera. Plus optically the lens is pretty close to perfect.
Model: Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45mm 1:2
Focal Length: 45mm
Focal Range: ∞ – 0.6m
Aperture: f/2 – f/16, 5 Blades
Structure: 6 Elements in 5 Groups
Don’t let the small size and low price worry you; the 45/2 is a rock-solid lens. While the primary construction material on the lens is plastic, it does have metal construction where it counts, and by that, I mean the actual lens mount. Which is good, because that part takes the most amount of stress. This also helps keep the weight of the lens down, keeping it balanced on any camera body you slap it on. I’ve only used this lens on the Minolta XG-M and the XE-7, two cameras of wildly different sizes and weights and you know, it feels good on both. And for a ‘pancake’ style lens you can work with it easily. The focusing ring is a rubberised piece that feels good and has a smooth movement, with just enough resistance but still free enough for fine movements. The aperture ring operates on full stops and has a subtle click for each position. And both the focus and aperture rings have a different feel and have enough separation that makes confusing them difficult. The filter ring is also metal, and has a 49mm diameter, even with taller filters you don’t have any vignetting caused by them. Optically, the glass used in the lens is well made and despite the small size has no issues with flare.
If there is one thing to attract me to the lens is how sharp it is in any situation, the second is that the widest the aperture will go is f/2. The reason being that even my faster lenses (f/1.7 or f/1.4) I generally don’t shoot any wider than f/2. While you do get a bit of vignetting when you’re shooting at f/2, but the centre of the frame is sharp. As soon as you stop it down to f/4 the vignetting has gone. The out of focus elements on the lens is smooth, and I think that this only adds to the draw of the lens, it works. Having a lens with a weird out-of-focus rendering only adds to the cult value, but the 45/2 allows its sharpness in any condition to speak for its value. One thing I do like about the lens is that it isn’t prone to flare and you don’t need to add a hood to the lens. And no matter what camera you install the lens on it performs from my XE-7 which it rarely leaves to the Sony a6000 where it works flawlessly.
As a lens, the 45/2 is great as an everyday carry lens. When I took this lens to Disney/Universal, it never once left the camera. And frankly, it spends more time on my XE-7 then any other Minolta lens in my toolkit. And I honestly feel that the lens provides closer to ‘normal’ viewing angle than a 35mm or 50mm lens. It’s the Goldilocks effect; it’s just right. What I’m saying is that the lens is great for travel photography, casual carry around, photo walks, environmental portraiture, and urban work. That said, it doesn’t do well for close up portraiture or cheap macro functions. Despite the f/2 maximum aperture it’s not that good in low light but can work in a pinch.
The Low Down
Honestly, after reading several reviews of this lens, I’m left with the impression that everyone who uses this lens loves the thing. And while it seems like a popular piece of glass and works great on digital cameras (I have thrown this onto my a6000) and film cameras it can be had for a song on the used market. Most examples I found range from 30-100$ with the average price being in the 50-60$ range, which I see as pretty fair. Now you’ll find multiple copies of this lens, some saying Rokkor others saying Rokkor-X others have it in orange others in white. From what I’ve read, there’s no difference optically between them. And they also seem plentiful on the used market. If you’re looking for a general carry around lens for your manual focus Minolta and don’t have this lens, it’s well worth tracking one down and buying. Or if you want to keep your smaller Minolta kit (X-Series) on the lighter side, also worth getting. In general, get the lens.
Don’t just take my work on the Rokkor-X 45mm f/2, check out these other reviews.
Casual Photophile – Minolta MD Rokkor X 45mm F/2 Lens Review
King Jvpes Photo – Minolta Rokkor 45mm F2 – The Best Minolta Lens
Lens QA Works – Review: Minolta Rokkor 45mm f/2
ER Photo Review – Minolta Rokkor-X 45mm f/2 Review
Joe Xu – Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 Review