The MD Tele Rokkor 135 mm f/2.8 in the MD-I version with four lens elements (4/4) is one of the most famous Minolta tele lenses. It uses a simpler optical formula than it’s MC predecessors, but performs considerably better. The sharpness of this lens is legendary amongst Minolta fanboys (and girls).
The MD 135 mm f/2.8 – like the MD 200 mm f/4 – features an integrated lens hood and feels slightly heavier than it’s longer brother. Focus is smooth but not buttery, handling on a NEX-5T is good. 135 mm can still be hand-held easily on a NEX, as long as light is sufficient. The relatively high weight reduces camera shake when shooting hand-held and make this lens a nice 206 mm equivalent tele “to go”.
For the MD Tele Rokkor 135 mm f/2.8 I’ve created lens correction profiles, which are available for download. For further details on the lens like weight and dimensions, have a look at its entry in the Minolta SR mount lens database.
Condition of my copy
Optics: Good. Very small, dotted defects in the coating. Some dust particles inside.
Mechanics: Okay. Focus smooth but stiff in the infinity region, aperture clean and fast.
Exterior: Satisfactory. Slight scratches in the finishing. Some matte stains on the exterior with unknown cause and a loose rubber grip.
Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T
The lens is a little soft at f/2.8 with acceptable contrast and light haze. The haze is gone by f/4 with sharpness and contrast improving slightly, showing a uniform performance from the center up to the corners. Sharpness further improves up to f/8, reaching very good levels across the entire frame. Diffraction affects f/11 marginally, softens up the image at f/16 and blurs away all details at f/22.
Some green and magenta shadows are visible at f/2.8. Starting at f/4.0, the small CAs sharpen up. They shrink to negligible size when stopping down to f/11 and grow again at f/16 and f/22. A good to very good performance for a medium tele.
Vignetting is about 1/2 a stop at f/2.8 and disappears at f/4. The effective T-stop at f/2.8 is approximately T3.2 (-0.4 EV), which is okay. Further, the MD 135 mm shows a tiny amount of pincushion distortion (0.3%).
In conclusion, the MD-I version of the 135 mm Tele Rokkor shows a pretty convincing performance. While resolution and micro contrast do not quite reach the excellent levels of a 50 mm f/1.4 MC Rokkor-PG, they are very good for a medium tele. Compared to my slightly questionable copy of the MD-II 135 mm f/2.8, the MD-I is ahead one full stop in terms of sharpness. Distortion and vignetting of the lens are fortunately close to irrelevant in every day use. The only real drawback of the older 4/4 design are the small but still visible lateral CAs – a flaw the MD-II does not exhibit.
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