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Comparison and review: Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 vs. Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0


Minolta MD Rokkor 85 mm f/ 2   (view specifications)

Jupiter-9 85 mm f/ 2 (RF)   (view specifications)

Preface: 85mm lenses.

Lenses with 85mm focal length are little strange phenomenon. They were used in 35mm film era as portrait lenses and were quite popular among users. When viewed in terms of popularity among manufacturers that is the focal length was (at the time) about the fourth - fifth place (50mm - 1st place, 135mm and 28-35mm 2nd and 3rd) along with 100mm lenses. The manufactured quantity of first three focal lengths was so great that today in the secondary market they can be bought almost for nothing. Of course I ‘m not taking into account the extra fast models. Price to $ 50 is quite common. But the price for 85mm lenses is not the same. The cheapest in the row are Jupiter-9, Minolta SR and Canon R versions. Jupiter-9 is worth 150$, Minolta SR and Canon R - anywhere starting from $ 250 (prices for September 2012). The first is cheaper, because buying a Jupiter-9 in the net - is a roulette, and, funny thing, the newer lens looks more likely to get some ... garbage. Minolta SR and Canon R are "cheap" because of the flange (43.5mm and 42mm respectively) does not allow their use on SLR cameras without elaboration. More or less fast options from other manufacturers (Olympus, Nikon, Canon EF) can worth $ 350-500.
Such prices can be explained by the relative rarity of 85mm lenses. For example, the first lens with 35mm, 50mm, 100mm and 135mm focal length Minolta launched in 1958, and the first 85mm - only in 1970! Therefore, the total number of manufactured lenses was relatively small. I do not have the data from other manufacturers.
Such high demand may also comes from the fact that for crop factor  x1.5 at digital cameras 85mm becomes 137mm, while for crop x2.0 - 170mm. There are telephoto lenses for portraits - widely used and popular focal lengths.
However – it is very strange. I'm not talking about Helios-40 for $ 600 ... (BTW, It looks like KMZ reestablished production for this lens and price should down soon... May be…)
I invite anyone who has an opinion or information on the subject to participate in the discussion.
Introduction of mirror-less technology only pushing prices up in the secondary market, and aligns prices Minolta SR and Canon R. Announcement of "Looking for Minolta MD 85mm f2.0" are not uncommon at the present times. I predict huge demand for the "old" lenses, when the first commercial full-frame camera with no mirror will come to the market (Leica does not count). And it look like SONY would be the first...

85mm lenses on Olympus E-PL1 with x2 crop factor should be treated as 170mm equivalent to a full frame of  35mm film. As already mentioned above, they are used mainly for portraits.

Lenses that will be discussed:

Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 - Lens for SLR Minolta SR second generation MD-series (as evidenced by 49mm filter diameter) manufacture in about 1983. The aperture has six blades.
Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0 – is a version for rangefinder cameras with Leica screw mountM39released in 1971. Lens Lytkarino plant with title written Latin - means for deliveries abroad. The aperture has fifteen blades.
An important difference is a minimum focusing distance - Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 - 0.85m, Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0 - 1.15m.

Optical scheme:

I do not need to speak much about the optical scheme of Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0. It is a remake (the word “copy” is not quite appropriate) of famous German Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar T 85mm f2.0. Scheme of the Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 - is the development of dual Gaussian scheme in order to reach a high optical quality compared to the standard design.
So this comparison may reveal or may not some features characteristic of the optical schemes.

Group photo:

At the second photo lenses have shown with attached adapters M39-m43 and Minolta SR-m43. This is intentional. The network often exaggerated opinion that Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 - one of the most compact 85mm lenses. However, it should be noted that with the adapter whole length of both lenses is identical (!) - 82mm and the weight is also almost the same (370g - Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0; 380g - Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0). Outer diameter of the lens is also very close (60mm - Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0 vs. 64mm - Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0), so it is questionable which of them is more compact.

Parameters for comparison:
Convenience of usage, mechanical and optical condition
Sharpness of images in the center and the edge of the frame for a short distance (~ 1.5m)
Sharpness of images in the center and the edge of the frame for a long distance (150m)
Color reproduction
A pointed source of light in the background and background blur (bokeh)
Resistance to the flare
Chromatic aberration
Capability of  macro shooting

Convenience of usage, mechanical and optical condition of the lens

So - Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0. Soviet production laws had left indelible marks on the lens. First, 15 diaphragm blades - very good, but why it was so abundantly lubricated? The entire diaphragm is impregnated with oil. However, thanks to the careful storage the aperture is not stuck, opens and closes smoothly. The situation is slightly worse with focusing ring. Originally it was pretty hard to move it, even a couple of times the lens was unscrewed out of the adapter. However, after sometime of usage the situation has improved - although the ring rotates tight, but acceptable.

About Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 I simply say nothing - all the mechanics in perfect condition.

Optics (lenses) in both lenses is in perfect condition - no stains, scratches or other defects. Does the Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0 has antireflection coating - is not clear, it seems that it does not ... Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 - the antireflection coating of both sides kind of yellowish-violet.

I received both lenses from their original owners.

Sharpness of images in the center and the edge of the frame for a short distance (~ 1.5m)

Test conditions: indirect sunlight, ISO100, fixed white balance (the sun), Olympus E-PL1 (crop factor x2), a tripod.
This time I tried to use a standard test format for optic equipment... and I must say that it was quite convenient. Distance from the model was chosen so that the model covers the entire plane of the frame. For the analysis, I used two areas in the center of the frame and one on the edge


100% crop

So, Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 has visible advantage at aperture f2.0 at the center and the edge of the frame. Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0 has significant soft at f2.0, which, in fact repeatedly discussed in previous reviews of this lens. However, the Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0 became much sharper at f2.8. At the same time sharpness of Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 stopping down from f2.0 to f2.8 increases not rapidly. Maximum sharpness is achieved for both lenses at f5.6. At f8.0 noticeable influence of diffraction can be seen, which mix details at f11 to mush.
Since prime usage of this lens - a portrait, the following are examples at apertures f2.0 and f2.8

Examples of portraits.


Sharpness of images in the center and the edge of the frame for a long distance (150m)

Model photo

100% crop

On closer examination, a noticeable advantage of Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 can be seen, both on the edge and in the center of the frame.

Color reproduction

Test picture

As can be seen at the pictures, the lenses reproduce colors differently. Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 characterized by some excess of blue while Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0 - yellow. It must be remembered, so I would recommend using a shooting in RAW with subsequent correction of the white balance


To detect vignetting by naked eye on these lenses was very difficult, so an option was applied in Photoshop - (Posterization level 6)


The result is strange. On the one hand, Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 pronounced vignetting on f2.0 (in my ideal for portraits!). It is vanishing at f2.8. On the other hand light distribution through the image of Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0 at f2.0 is a bit "uneven". Hard to say, what is a root cause.

A pointed source of light in the background and background blur (bokeh)


Model photo 1

Model image 2

This test showed a very different picture of the bokeh.

Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 open wide presents perfect circles in the centre of the frame, passing to the reduced ovals at edge of the frame. Stopping down to f2.8 converts circles to hexagons, though I must admit that rounding of aperture blades held a very high quality picture.
Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0 in opposed to Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 shows perfect circled bokeh in the center and on the edge of the frame. Most likely, this is a direct effect of the optical system Sonnar. Naturally, with 15 aperture blades stopping down does not change the shape of the circle in the bokeh, but only its diameter.
Please note that at crop factor x2 real edge of lenses are not used.
Although the model image shows that the lenses shows completely different background blur, in my opinion, both lenses have excellent bokeh. The only negative - bokeh at f2.0 at Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0 is unlikely to be used because of the strong soft effect.

Resistance to the flare


The test for the flare resistance reveals the problem inherent to the lenses of Soviet period - the technology of antireflection coatings (or lack thereof). It is strongly affect the image. The fall of the contrast is very noticeable at f2.0 for the Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0, while the situation has markedly improved stopping down to f2.8. Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 with shows very good resistance to flare starting from f2.0.

Chromatic aberration

100% crop

100% crop from previous test shows that the chromatic aberration on the image edges more strongly pronounced for Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0, and the stopping down to f2.8 does not change a picture.
It should be noted, however, that to catch these aberrations I used strong contrast sunlight. So under normal light conditions aberrations are not noticeable.


100% crop test

Test on longitudinal chromatic aberration shows approximately the same picture - the Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 they are more pronounced.

Capability of macro shooting.

By themselves, the lenses are not "macro" - minimum focus distance is not enough (Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 - 0.85m, Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0 - 1.15m).

Macro test

When using the macro extension ring 30mm (for m4 / 3) I managed to take some pictures, but it was quite difficult. Very short range of focusing ring does not allow to make right focus.


I have tried to rank the objectives by a five-point system for each of the above parameter. Evaluation of course related to the specific lens and does not purport to be absolute.

Parameter Minolta 85 50mm f2.0 Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0
Convenience of usage 4 4
Mechanical quality. 5 3
Image sharpness for a short distance (1.5m) center 5 4
Image sharpness for a short distance (1.5m) edge 5 4
Image sharpness for a long distance (150m) center 5 4
Image sharpness for a long distance (150m) edge 5 4
Vignetting 4 4
Color reproduction 4 4
Background blur (bokeh). 5 5
Resistance to the flare 5 4
Chromatic aberration (CA) 4 5
Capability of macro shooting. 2 2
Average 4.4 3.9



1. In terms of sharpness, the absolute advantage is for Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0. This lens is usable from f2.0 and exceeds the Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0 in the near and far distance through the whole range of apertures. In this case, I would like to point out that my copy of Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0 is very high quality, and with the exception of aperture f2.0 loses to Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 a little. Formally, this lens should be called Jupiter-9 85mm f2.5, from this aperture it is fully working.

2. Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 shows better flare resistance at f2.0.

3. For Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0 is more pronounced HA, but they only appear in a very strong light.

4. Blurred background (bokeh) is great for both lenses. There is some advantage for Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0 thanks to fifteen aperture blades, but at the same time Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0 at f2.0 is hard to be used because of the soft effect.

To sum it up I can only say that both lenses can be successfully used for portraits shooting, and a skilled photographer can overcome some drawbacks of the particular lens to its dignity

Pictures gallery made by these lenses:

Minolta MD Rokkor-X 85mm f2.0
Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0

There is Russian version of the article

Author: YuriS 24.09.2012 00:52:47
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