The draw of this lens (along with the other lenses in the Minolta M-Rokkor series) is that lens is that it is a collaboration between Leica and Minolta. It is reported to be the same exact lens sold as a Leica Summicron 40/2. As such, you are getting a Leica lens with Minolta branding. The horror. Can you withstand the ridicule of people pointing at your red dot and saying “Minolta?” If you are a normal person, and you are like me, my bet is that you can. Keep reading.
There are two versions of this lens. The first version was made for the Minolta CL camera. The second version is multi-coated and was made for the Minolta CLE camera. In this case, get the later version. In addition to the coating, there is some discussion online that the older ones might not work as work well with the Leica M cameras. This seems to be a complete rumor that was perpetuated by Leica at the time but just in case yours doesn’t work the way you want, don’t say I didn’t warn you that there is at least a rumor about an issue with the older version online. The way to know you are getting the newer version is that the serial number is on the lens barrel. With the older version, the serial number is on the filter ring.
On garden gnomes and parked cars
This is anything but a garden gnome and parked car lens. It is a Leica lens through and through. The focusing tab works the same way as any Leica lens. Focusing is supple and the Minolta Rokkor-M 40mm F2 is TINY. I mean tiny, tiny, tiny. It is perfectly at home at f2. No worries there. There is only one issue to mention. On my m10 there are no 40mm frame lines. It brings up the 50mm frame line which leaves me guessing where the end of the frame is all the time. It isn’t a deal-breaker but it is a pain and I have biffed some images because of it.
Does it have SOUL?
The look, feel, and sharpness is decidedly modern but it retains just enough mojo and SOUL from the 70’s and 80’s to give just enough color, warmth, and contrast to the images so you don’t feel at all like you brought the Sony or Fuji or whatever camera chased you into this vintage lens business in the first place. A touch of vignetting also adds to the look. Don’t let this short paragraph scare you off. It isn’t Aretha Franklin so it is hard to get worked up about the SOUL quotient but at the same time, it will give you just enough of a groovy feeling to help you sleep well after a day of shooting. It appears I used the phrase “just enough” three times in this paragraph so maybe that means this lens is “just enough” of everything in one teeny, tiny, little package of goodness?
Expect this lens to flare but if you are into flares, they are sublime. If you are looking for ultramodern flare control you are barking up the wrong tree. You can expect some nifty swirls and circles without a complete image washout that is common with some of the older vintage lenses. The lens hood is not sufficient for flare control. I included a flare image at the end of this series.
Truth bet told, this is the lens I shot exclusively for the first long while after I got my M10. It wasn’t the first lens I actually purchased but it was the first lens I felt comfortable leaving the house. At the time, I felt stupid bringing the other stupidly expensive lens I bought out into the real world because I was embarrassed and had a painful case of imposter syndrome. This lens helped bring me out of my shell. I got it on craigslist and some dude was selling it for next to nothing so I figured I would beat it up as I learned to use a rangefinder. The problem was that I dug it too much. In fact, when I considered starting this project, I almost abruptly ended it because I asked myself “if there is nothing wrong with this lens, why waste time and energy looking for anything else?”
This lens begs to be taken as a one-lens kit for any day trip or vacation. For the money you absolutely, certainly, no questions asked, cannot go wrong if you like what I like. The major downside is the frame line issue. If you are a 2 lens woman you will also find that the wonky focal length leaves you stuck making decisions for your other lens since it is kind of a limbo focal length.
If you aren’t at least considering this lens, you are not my people. You feel the gravitational pull of the word Leica, can’t see the beauty in the 40mm focal length, or are unnecessarily chasing bokeh balls. Then again, the frame lines issue. Maybe you are my people after all.
Did I keep it?
Remember, with this website I am documenting my reality show type journey as I search for the perfect kit for my Leica M10. To learn more about which lenses I kept and which lenses I sold, learn from my experience, and to support this site, please check out my Leica Lenses for Normal People:The Recommended List.
Sample Images (click for hi-res)