Minolta Rokkor 45mm 1:2.8 TD – review

Published by Tony on

Minolta Rokkor TD 45mm 1:2.8 pancake engraved as “Minolta Rokkor-TD 1:2.8 f=45mm” lens review

  • Official classification: SR
  • Collector’s classification: AR C or AR II – depends on the opinion of collectors, there are no clear agreements (for me it seems that AR II is more correct but it is not very important thing to argue, both codes have chances to be used)

    The only pancake from Minolta. After this attempt, the company never produced lenses in this form factor again. No one voiced the reason officially, but given the rarity of pancakes among the products of other companies, there is nothing surprising in this.

    Minolta Rokkor TD 45mm 1:2.8 specifications

    Name engraved on lens Minolta ROKKOR
    f[mm] 45
    A max [1/f] 2.8
    A min[1/f] 16
    Lens design [el.] 4
    Lens design [gr.] 3
    Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm] 46
    Lens Shade D48KE
    closefocus[m/ft] 0.9/3
    Dimension Ø x length [mm] 64×17
    Weight[g] 130gr
    Year 1964.09.28
    Style AR-C

    More data

    Floating elements NO
    Aperture blades number 8
    Confidence in the test results of reviewed copies Good enough
    Reviewed Lens SN: 1101673

    Historical note

    The release date – 1964.09.28 (28 September 1964).

    It is a quite rare item, only about 5000 copies were released (by Andrea Aprà’s information). The lens has the Tessar optical design, looks very close to lenses like Zeiss Tessar 45/2.8 – one “more modern” has been already reviewed on the site.

    The focus ring can be marked in feet and meters. These marks are depend on the market for which the lens was intended (“There can be no other reason” (c) Andrea Aprà) . Feet for US/Canada/UK, meters for all other countries. But the tested copy was found in Japan and is marked in feet. Yes, perhaps the lens returned to its homeland, but it seems that many such exclusions are appeared on the Japan territory at least. (“It should be remembered that in Japan there is certainly a production for the “Post Exchange” even if the engraving <EP> does not necessarily appear on them.” (c) Andrea Aprà)

    Here is the copy marked with meters (photo by Andrea Aprà):

    How it works

    Immediately after the publication of the article, I received a post on the mflenses forum from RokkorDoctor with additional special information about the lens. With gratitude, full quote:

    A key feature to be aware of is that this lens is not unit focusing.


    In order to keep the lens flat there is not enough room for a conventional helicoid for unit focusing with a decent MFD, so this lens focuses by only moving the first (front) element. Even then the MFD isn’t great. This trick was often used with these Tessar designs as an engineering “fudge”; as the power of the first element is stronger than the rest of the lens, a usable focus range can be attained by only a very marginal movement of the front element only.


    This focus topology comes with a significant drawback though: whilst aberrations are reasonably controlled at infinity (although far from perfect), for shorter focus distances the correction for aberrations becomes severely compromised due to the changing spacing of the first element relative to the other three elements.


    At the MFD the lens becomes quite soft with significant SA at f/2.8, and there is also a very significant apparent focus shift near the MFD when stopping the lens down. For short focus distances it is really not recommended to do the focusing at the wide-open f/2.8, and then stop down to take the shot. Setting focus near the MFD needs to be done at f/5.6 or even smaller working apertures. Since the Minolta SR cameras were set up to do the focusing at a wide-open working aperture, I would hazard a guess that the practical focus problems of using this lens near the MFD contributed to this lens’ ultimate demise in Minolta’s line-up (to be “replaced” some years later in 1978 by the optically much better MD ROKKOR 45mm f/2 )

    Minolta Rokkor TD 45mm 1:2.8 lens exterior

    Lens shade Minolta D48KE

    A few words about the lens shade: D48KE is used for the lens, this hood is original for Minolta AL-2 and V3 cameras, but it is not suitable for a pancake – because of the screw. So they just took the same lens hood, but changed the screw in it. A rare case – Minolta did not enter a new code for the lens shade and simply used the same D48KE with a note about the changed screw shape.

    Photos below are provided by Michel Brien, for which many thanks to him:

    Here is another picture showing the 2 versions of this shade which is only a reworking of the thumb screw that changes its length and avoids the rubbing against the filter ring. Minolta AL-2/V3 on the left, ROKKOR-TD on the right

    The set of Rokkor-TD 45mm F2.8 – owned by Michel Brien:


    Minolta Rokkor TD 45mm 1:2.8 mounted on camera SR-3

    Quite authentic set – the camera and lens could be purchased at the same time

    Minolta Rokkor TD 45mm 1:2.8 sharpness

    Сlose-distance resolution test, minimal distance

    Testing methods description

    • Target: 10-15 cm picture, printed on glossy photo paper
    • Distance: 1.7m
    • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF.
    • The test was repeated for every F-stop on every focus position with manual focus adjustment for each shot. That is to avoid the effect of field curvature.
    • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

    Original target image (printed in horizontal orientation on 10cm X 15cm glossy photo paper)

    Scene preview

    Test results

    Minolta Rokkor 45mm 1:2.8 - resolution on the small distance

    Long-distance resolution test

    Testing methods description

    • Target: cityscape
    • Distance: > 200 meters to center focus point
    • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF. The focus point is on the center only.
    • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

    Scene preview

    Test results

    Minolta Rokkor 45mm 1:2.8 - resolution on the far distance

    Minolta Rokkor TD 45mm 1:2.8 aberrations


    Geometric distortion

    Coma aberrations

    Chromatic aberrations

    Long-distance bokeh

    Test #1

    Test conditions: the lens was focused on minimal distance on the scale (0.9m), buildings are on “infinity”-distance


    Test conditions: lens was focused on 1.5m

    Light bubbles bokeh – long distance

    Test #1

    The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 0.9m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

    Minolta Rokkor TD 45mm 1:2.8 – final conclusion

    This is a typical pancake Tessar lens in terms of sharpness and rendering. Everything is standard – the corners never become comparable to the center of the frame. The F11 position doesn’t count – it’s hardly suitable for anyone. The center and middle part of the frame is a little soft at an open aperture. At f4 they are acceptable, and at f5.6 their sharpness becomes full.

    A good news: the absences of geometric distortion and chromatic aberrations, a little coma, acceptable vignetting since F4.

    Another positive trait is linked with blur zone: the lens has a quite interesting bokeh – true swirly,  perhaps a little nervous but anyway – looks cool. This can make scenes with objects in the center of the frame quite interesting. Just don’t expect a huge blur because of aperture and focal length.

    So, the sharpness – is the mail weakness of this lens. Definitely, photographers should avoid to take a photo on the opened F2.8. And should keep in mind the corners at any aperture.

    So, can this lens be recommended?

    Of course it is the nice target for collectors – absolutely collectible item with tons points of rareness. But what about photographers? Who use Full Frame cameras of course. Difficult question but I agree that this lens can give an interesting result based on its imperfection. On the other hand – a photographer should be advanced enough and be ready to use all these aberrations in art-tools roles.

    Also don’t forget about main advantages: the size and weight. On mirrorless cameras, together with the adapter, this lens looks like a regular fifty-lens and this makes the camera more stylish than usual – lenses for mirrorless cameras usually look visually longer due to the shorter focal flange distance. And it has amazing sexy-look on film-cameras.

    So, yes – I can recommend this lens to everyone because some of the disadvantages of IQ are compensated by an unusual design and art abilities. To put it bluntly, it is a nice toy for adult children. No Minolta lens has ever received such a strange recommendation on this site.

    (By the way, I do not see any difference in the behavior of this Minolta and similar Zeisses, even much younger. But Zeiss owners praise Tessar with all their might, it is always “sharpest, contrastest, gemiest, etc.”  Probably, there are two options – either Minolta lovers are used to the good IQ and it seems to them that such quality is very mediocre. Or Zeiss fans cannot objectively evaluate their equipment. Honestly, in several reviews I have seen reports that the Zeiss Tessar is sharp across the entire field of the frame, and very sharp if wide opened… It’s incredible.)



    Francois Spenard · 2022-08-03 at 14:23

    With this type of result, I agree it’s just a just a toy, only good as rare collectable

      Tony · 2022-08-03 at 15:05

      Yes, I have a hunch that Minolta didn’t continue this line of lenses because the image quality was mediocre and the small body was too difficult to manufacture (simply speaking – the complexity of the lens was not worth the image quality). This idea was suggested to me by Andrea Aprà, who dismantled such a pancake and found out that it is much more complicated than ordinary lenses due to the size of the body.
      Иut that’s just a personal guess (!)

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