Mark Wieczorek
May 25 · 6 min read
Minolta-PG 58mm f/1.2, second generation on a Sony A7. (Photo taken with a Leica 50mm Summicron Dual Range mounted to the Ricoh GXR.)

I have a bit of an obsession with fast vintage lenses. Luck for me, vintage lens manufacturers had a bit of an obsession with making faster and faster lenses.

I already own and love the Minolta 85mm f/1.7 so when I learned about the 58mm f/1.2 (and its famous bokeh) I decided to pick one up.

I prefer to let the photos speak for themselves, but I did want to discuss the lens a little bit.

My copy is in excellent (mint) condition. It’s the 2nd generation (with scalloped focusing ring).

The focus ring is a bit on the stiff side but very smooth. It’s like someone bought this lens and left it in their closet for 40 years. The optics are pristine.

The lens cap is the vintage type that goes OVER the lens (not like the modern pinch type lens caps). The lens hood, however is a screw on type. This means you can’t put the lens cap on when the hood is on.

The lens hood’s interior is covered in black velvet — to cut down on reflections. This was common in the late 60’s and 70’s, and even the lenses would have velvet after the rear element to cut down on reflections. These would shed velvet dust and the practice was abandoned eventually.

The aperture ring is small and stiff with whole stop clicks. When the lens was made, the aperture ring would have been right up against the camera body and difficult to jostle out of place. But with a lens adapter, it’s very easy to change the aperture… perhaps accidentally. f/1.2 and f/2 are the tiniest bump away.

I became more aware of this later in my photo walk, so I’m not 100% sure what many of these photos were at. Now that I’m aware of this, I’ll keep it in mind going forward.

I got the Vello Minolta MD/MC to Sony E Mount adapter for the 85mm and it’s been great — very little to no play, no issues. But it is now literally stuck to the 58mm 1.2 — I have no idea how I’ll get it off. I’m going to poke around with the end of a clothespin or Q-tip to see if I can shift something around to get the adapter off. Lesson learned — don’t buy cheap adapters.

OK with those notes out of the way, here’s the photos.

On this shaded street, contrast is excellent. Not sure of the aperture here, but seeing as it’s photographing a flat object far away, I don’t see how it much matters, any lens could do this well.
I may not have nailed focus here — I was focusing on the wall/mural. Notice the glow of the highlights of the Jeep in the foreground. Not sure if this was just a not-very-contrasty subject or if there was some reduction in contrast from the strong light going on.
Glass balconies, photographed from below, probably wide open, maybe at f/2.
Notice the bit of glow on the right side of the frame & the subtly out of focus traffic light in the lower right.
Not sure I nailed focus here, I use the Sony’s focus peaking and “run and gun” a lot.
Through a window (if you’re wondering about the reduced contrast). If you look closely you can see my reflection.
Look at the “glow” in the specular highlights.
Soap bubble bokeh. Mmmm. Not sure where the bokeh that seems to be in front of the letters is coming from.
Outside of Dashwood Books — highly recommended if you get the chance.
Mmmmm look at how soft the bokeh is in the bricks behind the pipes.
I was feeling peckish so I stopped into a restaurant (Smile, across the street from Dashwood Books on Bond Street. We’re starting to see how this lens will handle the night time — which is half of all time — you tell ’em Rick.)
Reduced contrast and flaring here from oblique light.
Sharp and contrasty and look at those soap bubbles & cats eyes.
If you ever wondered where all those Halal carts go at night …
The reduced contrast is due to shooting through a fence.
Teardrop shaped street lights. Notice the “compass rose” shaped ghosting in the upper right from the headlights in the lower left.
Broken glass and Compass-Rose shaped ghosting form the oncoming headlights.
Boring photo of an interesting building.
The St. Mark’s Street area used to be where all the punks hung out. Now it’s known as Little Tokyo. (There are still plenty of punks.) Love how the vintage lens + grain make this look filmic.
Sailors flirting at one of NYC’s oldest pubs.
Veiled flaring in all that oncoming traffic. My focus trap was just a bit in front of where this guy was walking — focus traps are hard wide open.
My fortune was “you spend too much money on lenses”
Friendly guys, I showed them the photo after.
NYC being NYC.
If you look closely, there’s a puppy in this photo.
Another boring photo of an interesting building.
Notice the subtle glow of the headphone cable.
Is that a horse on his bike? Again using the Sony focus peaking to “run and gun”.
Someone didn’t like this poster.
Mmmm sexy transition from in focus out of focus.
Look at the glow of the bright traffic light in the foreground.
I think these were feathered hats in a costume shop window. Some of that famous “busy” bokeh wide open. Funny that it took until now to see it…
I wouldn’t mess with this guy.
Sharp and contrasty wide open, as long as there’s no light shining into the lens.
#doubledutchnyc in Union Square Park
Ghandi statue, again sharp and contrasty wide open.
Another boring building photo.

Conclusions

This lens is sharp and contrasty, as long as there’s no light shining into the lens. The “busy” bokeh wide open is there, but mostly seems to show up when you’re near the close focus limit and have a busy background. Obviously for street, you’re not going to be focused that closely often.

The lens is prone to veiled flaring and ghosting (with interesting compass rose shaped ghosts), but I don’t mind any of that — it’s an interesting “character” lens.

Specular highlights do tend to “glow” — which again you may or may not like.

My lens is a 2nd generation (with the scalloped focusing ring), so changes in coating may make this more or less evident with other generations of this lens.

I still don’t know how I’m going to get the lens adapter off.

About the Author

@sodiumstudio on Instagram.

I own a lot of vintage lenses & plan on doing more of these.

Ice Cream Geometry

"The greatest joy for me is geometry" - Henri Cartier-Bresson. "Instagram is all about ice cream and geometry" - Me.

Mark Wieczorek

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Just This Guy, You Know?

Ice Cream Geometry

"The greatest joy for me is geometry" - Henri Cartier-Bresson. "Instagram is all about ice cream and geometry" - Me.

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