Video Field Test : Legacy Lens | Minolta Rokkor-X 45mm f/2
When adapting vintage lenses to modern-day cameras, a shooter is usually looking for something they can't easily achieve in a modern lens. Sometimes that's a certain bokeh character or a classic softness to details. Other times, the shooter is trying to get to a certain aperture or focal length while staying within a certain price point.
When it comes to the technicalities, the Rokkor-X 45mm f/2 doesn't exactly thrill on paper. The focal length sits somewhere in between the popular 50mm and 35mm standard-issue everyday prime lenses. The 5-bladed aperture opens to f/2 which is, again, not bad by any means, but not game-changing either. Even when looking at this lens's so-called 'pancake' status, it's smaller than the 50mm, but it could still be smaller.
Why, then, does this 45mm draw the attention of classic lens lovers? I imagine it's similar to having a favorite coffee mug. Sure, there are others in the collection that look better or perform more impressively, but this one is the one you know and love for some inexplicable reason.
This compact package was introduced in 1978 along with Minolta's XG series of SLR cameras. Metal and dense plastic construction give the unit a quality feel, with effectively grippy rubber on the smoothly dampened focus ring. It's well made and truly doesn't feel like a toy in the way that some modern cheap prime lenses do.
Honestly, the lens looks much better on an actual Minolta film camera. Simply attaching a mount adapter to fit it to a mirrorless digital body almost doubles the overall size, but that's not saying much. Even with the adapter, it's still a smaller package than many other full-frame mirrorless prime lenses that claim to be compact.
The images are quite sharp, though. It may not be crisp enough to produce life-size prints, but it's certainly sharp enough for me. Plus, it's just flat-out fun to use. The Rokkor-X lenses include some of the finest glass produced by Minolta, with well-deserved good reputations.
I note all of this without even mentioning the price of the 45mm, which is one of the lowest you'll find–for now, at least. If you can manage to track one of these down, you can easily pick it up for well under $100.
Sometimes the things we love don't need an explanation. Some passions don't need solid, concrete statistics to prove that it's better than others in the same field.
Maybe it's just your favorite coffee mug because you like it, and that's all that really matters to you.