A Wide-Eyed Minolta

I’ve had in my collection for some time now a Minolta MD W.Rokkor 20mm f/2.8 lens.  While I haven’t completely neglected the use of this lens, it has spent more time in the cabinet than out of it.  This past week, I had need of a wide-angle lens to capture photos of our house we intend to sell.  We moved down to Florida back in March of this year to spend time with my Dad before he passed away.  His health declined much quicker than anticipated and, as you might have seen in a previous post, he passed back in the end of September.

My wife and I have longed to live someplace that’s full of opportunities for outdoor adventure for us and the kids to experience.  What better place than the State of Alaska!  Our plan now is to sell our home here in Florida and move up to the Anchorage area before my oldest kids start moving out on their own.

A few weeks back, an OutFor30 reader had asked for my thoughts on the Minolta 20mm lens.  At that time, I hadn’t used it enough to give a good answer but now that I’ve had nothing else in my hands for the past week, I feel I can comment with some level of confidence.

I’ll first share with you a few of the images I shot for the listing on Zillow and then offer my thoughts of the lens at the end.  I’m no real estate photographer so bear with me now.  I have a whole new level of respect for the men and women who do this professionally.  It comes with a whole different set of challenges I normally face shooting travel and landscapes.

Each photo, I’ve put a note about the lighting for that shot.  All images are single-exposure, shot in 14-bit uncompressed RAW.

 

Long-exposure + natural light + house lights +light painted with flashlights.

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD W.Rokkor 20mm f/2.8

Natural (house) light

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD W.Rokkor 20mm f/2.8

Natural light

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD W.Rokkor 20mm f/2.8

Natural light

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD W.Rokkor 20mm f/2.8

Natural (house) light

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD W.Rokkor 20mm f/2.8

Natural + interior lighting

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD W.Rokkor 20mm f/2.8

Interior lighting

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD W.Rokkor 20mm f/2.8

Interior lighting

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD W.Rokkor 20mm f/2.8

Natural + interior lighting + remote flash

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD W.Rokkor 20mm f/2.8

Interior lighting

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD W.Rokkor 20mm f/2.8

Natural + remote flash.

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD W.Rokkor 20mm f/2.8

This little Minolta has a lot going for it.  With an average eBay price of around $280 it’s a bargain.  I’ve shot with wide-angle lenses costing 2x or higher that didn’t perform as well.  It isn’t perfect but I feel its strengths outweigh any of its weaknesses.

Strengths:

  • Excellent Minolta Color
  •  At f/2.8 it’s sharp across most of the frame, and by f/5.6 it’s sharp edge-to-edge
  • Distortion is subtle, simple (no mustaching), and easy to correct
  • Lightweight and very easy to handle
  • Can accept regular filters

Weaknesses:

  • Strong, direct lighting can result in localized contrast loss
  • At apertures faster than f/8, it shows noticeable (correctable) chromatic aberration
  • Vignetting stands out at pretty much every aperture, all of which is easily corrected in Photoshop

Next time I require a wide-angle lens, I may be grabbing this one instead of my trusty Minolta or Olympus 24mm.  I think this will make for a great landscape lens – hopefully up in Alaska 🙂

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9 thoughts on “A Wide-Eyed Minolta

  1. Hi Tom,

    Great images, hope they help to sell the property. But, I guess that the market could be a bit slow at this time of year as people who want a new house want it for Christmas and it is probably a bit tight for that now. But hopefully the New Year could find you a buyer.

    I just love those ‘Magic’ Minolta colours, (used the Brit spelling with the French influence or was that effluence,) (if you understand what the French are trying to do over Brexit you will understand why!) Yes those lenses are a bit idiosyncratic, but don’t the images give you the payoff! These days, nine times out of ten I have one of the Minolta AF lenses from the 80’s on the front of my Sony cameras. The ‘Nifty 50’ 1.7 lens is my go to for portraits and my standard lens these days is either the 35-70mm f4 or the 28-105mm. Both of these were bought from fleaBay for silly money but apart from a bit more weight they are terrific.

    Alaska then Tom? Bold decision my friend, the winters can be tough, great outdoors though. Looking forward to the images though.

    Regards Jim

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  2. I had the same experience with an old Nikon 20mm. I figured maybe the 80’s and older wide angles just weren’t any good. Not the case, however, with this Minolta. I have read that the Minolta 18mm isn’t quite as good as their 20mm.

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  3. Hi Rajesh. I’m glad you enjoyed the new post. I look forward as well to posting many images from Alaska. The times I’ve been up there for work, I’ve always left with a memory card full of keepers and a strong desire to go back. It’s all in God’s hands now. We will wait now and see how things proceed.

    Tom

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  4. Good morning Jim. So nice to hear from you. I’m glad you liked the new “colourful” post. 😉 It really is hard to not like these old Minoltas. Even the ones that show a glaring weakness, they seem to always compensate for it with a beautiful character quality to the images they render (ex: 135mm f/2.8). Nearly 20 years into photography has made me more appreciative of how an image feels rather than simply how sharp or laboratory perfect it appears. I’ve owned some technically stellar modern lenses that I quickly lost interest in and subsequently sold. They had no character, no “feel”. Photoshop can add some effects to an image but if it doesn’t come from the glass, it just looks Instagramy to me.
    Alaska… I can’t say I’m not a little nervous about the move but I think no matter what, it’ll be an awesome adventure and a good memory for the family. We’ve read that people either love living there or absolutely hate it – nothing in between. The only way to find out which group we fall under is to go there and try it out. We’ll be renting for the first year just to make sure we don’t get anchored down by a house should we decide to move back to the lower 48 States.

    All the best to you,

    Tom

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  5. Tom-

    We would like to express our condolences on the loss of your father. It is never easy losing a loved one. You have memorialized him in a loving way.

    I was perusing zillow to check on our friends house down the street, and came across Escondido on the market. The pictures you have taken are absolutely wonderful ! It makes it look as though it should be in a magazine !! You have such a talent. I hope you were able to enjoy the area given the situation for your move to Citrus County. I wish you the best of luck on the sale of our masterpiece. Many good wishes to you and your family on your new venture in Alaska ….Brrrrrr…

    Jack and Joanne Clarke

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  6. Jack and Joanne,
    Thank you for your kind words and well-wishes. We have so enjoyed our time living in the immaculate house you built. It is apparent how much care and attention to detail you put into the design and quality of it. I can’t imagine ever living in a nicer home than this; it truly is a special place. The lovely family who has contracted to buy it from us is super excited to move in. They – like us – just can’t get over what an awesome job you two did in the build. In the two weeks we’ve had Escondido listed, we had a number of people contact us just to find out who the architect was that designed it.
    We sure are excited to begin our adventure in Alaska. Certainly will be a climate change to get used 🙂

    All the best to you!

    Tom and Jen Leonard

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