minolta-40mm-review

Minolta Rokkor 40mm f2 Review (Leica Summicron Alternative!) + YouTube

If you love the idea of buying a Leica Summicron lens but the price is above your budget then keep reading. The Minolta-M Rokkor 40mm f2 lens is near identical to the Leica Summicron-C 40mm f2 lens. The Minolta 40mm f2 lens also comes for a fraction of the price of a Summicron 35mm lens!

Minolta 40mm Review - Blog Cover Photo
Leica CL digital + Minolta M-Rokkor 40mm f2 Portrait

Unplanned discovery of the 40mm Minolta lens!

I hadn’t planned to buy the Minolta 40mm Rokkor lens for Leica M mount.  It was a purchase fueled by photography GAS (gear acquisition syndrome!) when I was looking at the highly regarded Leica Summicron 35mm f2 lens.  Summicron 35mm lenses are crazy expensive and I didn’t want to spend that much money.  I saw the size of the Leica Summicron 40mm f2 lens and the much lower price tag and I was immediately interested.  I headed over to Flickr to find examples of this lens and reviews seems very positive.  

Leica Summicron 40mm vs 35mm 

The verdict online seems to be that the Summicron- C 40mm isn’t quite as good as the 35mm Summicron lens but the 40mm offers exceptional value for money.   The 40mm Summicron is said to be the smallest Leica M lens but I’m not sure that holds true.  Collapsible lenses like the Leica Elmar M is smaller when collapsed.  Some Leica LTM lenses are also smaller and other brands made small lenses such as the Voigtlander Skopar lenses (M mount and LTM mount)(examples – Voigtlander Color Skopar 21mm f4 lens / Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens) and Canon LTM lenses.

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Minolta Rokkor-M 40mm vs Summicron 40mm

If you come to buy the Leica Summicron 40mm f2 lens you will find there are 3 similar versions.  The Leica Summicron-C 40mm f2, the Minolta Rokkor-M 40mm f2 version 1 and the Minolta Rokkor-M 40mm version 2.  Optically I understand that all 3 lenses are identical but the Minolta 40mm later version is said to have better lens coatings.

Minolta CLE 40mm lens or Minolta CL 40mm lens

The version 2 of the lens was the Minolta CLE 40mm lens whereas the version 1 was the Minolta CL 40mm lens. Better coatings makes the Minolta 40mm v2 less prone to flare (unlike the Leica Summicron and Minolta v1).  For this reason I purchased a later copy of the Minolta 40mm.  

Great Value! Minolta 40mm lens on eBay

Being non Leica branded the Minolta lenses also often sell for less than their Leica sibling.  That works for me!  I called myself MrLeica.com some years ago but I’m not loyal to any one brand. I just try to use the best cameras and lenses I can afford regardless of the name.

Check the latest prices on eBay

Minolta M-Rokkor 40mm f2 Portrait
Leica CL digital + Minolta M-Rokkor 40mm f2 Portrait

Leica Summicron-C 40mm f2 lens 

If you are a loyal Leica brand only shooter then you might prefer the Leica badged version. If you search online for the Leica Summicron C 40mm lens you will find it is particularly affordable for a Leica Summicron lens (and tiny!). It is almost unbelievably cheap when you see the cost of a Leica 35mm Summicron lens.

40mm Viewfinder

If you use a Leica M film camera you will know that these cameras do not have 40mm framelines. To get around this I use a 40mm hotshoe viewfinder. See the YouTube video embedded below for a visual.

Camera with 40mm Framelines

If you want a film camera with 40mm framelines “build in” to the viewfinder then check out these two cameras –

minolta m-rokkor 40mm + Leica CL
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Minolta Rokkor 40mm Portrait Examples – Digital

Minolta Rokkor-M 40mm f2
Leica + Rokkor 40mm Portrait
Minolta Rokkor 40mm f2
Leica M240 + Rokkor 40mm
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Minolta M-Rokkor 40mm Sample Photos – Film

Voigtlander Bessa T Portrait
Leica M3 + Kentmere 400
35mm Leica CL + Minolta Rokkor 40mm Portrait
35mm Leica CL Film Portrait
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Summary of the Minolta 40mm Rokkor M f2 lens

This compact lightweight affordable lens for Leica M mount offers excellent value for money. It seems a bit of a forgotten gem in the Leica lens option line up. I would have bought the Minolta M-Rokkor 40mm f2 lens in my early Leica days if I knew it existed back then. The size and weight makes this a perfect travel lens. I’ve been really happy with it so far both for shooting film and digital.

YouTube: Minolta M-Rokkor 40mm f2 Review

35mm f2 instead of 40mm f2?

As 40mm is not an ideal focal length on Leica M cameras you may want to consider a compact 35mm f2 lens instead. I highly recommend the new Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f2 lens (YouTube) which I now also own.

Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f2 lens
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6 thoughts on “Minolta Rokkor 40mm f2 Review (Leica M)”

  1. I have the Leica 40mm f2 lens and use it on an old M3 (1955). It’s really a substitute for a 35mm but not as expensive as the 35mm Summicron. I’ve tracked down a VC 40mm viewfinder but the 50mm firnder in an M3 is just as good if you get everything important in the frame. I use Hyperfocal distance focus with the lens stopped down to at least f8. Results are tip-top and the lens is very compact. There’s a small rubber hood that collapses. Filter threads an oddity though. It says 5.5 on the hood for series filters. Now Ken Rockwell states that 39mm filters work if you gently screw on until you meet resistance. Then stop. That way you don’t damage the filter threads. My lens was inexpensive around 15 years ago. Prices have risen since then.

    1. matthewosbornephotography

      Thanks David, Yes I use my 40mm on my M3 for a small setup too and use the full viewfinder area. Nice setup. Thanks for info on hood/filters.

  2. Peter Johnson

    Thanks for the great review. I have the M-Rokkor (I was the 1st lens I bought for my M2 as I prefer 40mm over 50mm FOV) but itching to try the Voightlander 40mm 1.4 lately. Your review helped me to make up my mind to keep the M-Rokkor and be happy with what I have. GAS is a dangerous thing!

  3. Hi Matt – love your reviews.

    I have recently (within the last 1-2 years started moving to MF and developing a light weight travel kit. In addition to travel with my wife – i focus on landscapes.

    I shoot with Fuji XF bodies (APS-C) and have the following as my kit: 21/4 skopar, 35/2.5 skopar, m-hexanon 50/2 and the m-rokkor 90/4. I love shooting with the XPro2 and the OVF but the diminutive size of the XE4 keeps singing its siren song to me. Still amazed all this easily fits in my Billingham small pro bag with my godox TT350 and trigger.

    I am intrigued by this 40/2.0 being like a summicron. Leica glass is a bit unrealistic for my budget. How since they are so close to the same FL, how does the 35/2.5 skopar compare with the Minolta 40/2.0?

    I recently did an analysis of the 200K images in my catalog and have verified of the 5 star images, the vast majority are 50mm equiv – so I guess i am officially a 50 guy.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    1. matthewosbornephotography

      Hi Paul, thanks! Nice lens line-up too! You will love the size and weight of the Minolta. You best bet to compare them is to watch my recent 40mm lenses video and 35mm lenses video and perhaps pause and screenshot the Skopar & Minolta to compare bokeh, vignetting etc. I’ve not tested side by side directly. Yes i’m a 50mm guy too! Cheers Matt (P.S. subscribe to the blog if you want the YouTube search tool I made where you can search the 190+ videos by focal length, brand and more).

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