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Review: Minolta MC Macro Rokkor QE 100mm 1:3.5

Minolta MC Macro Rokkor QE 100mm 1:3.5 (Hills&Valleys/Knurled design, or MCII by collector’s classification)

The first feeling: it’s not a lens – it’s a howitzer. Every Rokkor from pre-rubberized generations looks like a rock, but this macro-hundred is the champion among others. Even huge and twice heavier Rokkor MC 300mm 1:5.6 looks more elegant than this hunk of metal with a few pieces of glass.

After getting a new lens, I always take a few technical shots to understand its strengths and weaknesses – usually, it helps me a lot to start using an unknown lens with much less of doubt. One day I decided that my data might be interesting for someone else and this site has been made.

MCCM10035_exterior_726.jpg

Minolta MC Macro Rokkor QE 100mm 1:3.5 parameters:

minolta.eazypix.de index 159
Name engraved on lens MC MACRO ROKKOR-QE
f 100
A max 3.5
A min 22
Elements 5
Groups 4
Filter thread 55
Lens Shade screw-in
close 0.45/1.5
Dimension 75×88.5
Weight 550
Year 1972
Style MC II
Code No. 654

Floating elements NO
Aperture blades number 6
Average international price (sold items) 2019: USD 100-125
Reviewed Lens SN: 1016005


I was lucky to get almost complete set – the lens, macro 1×1 extension tube, 55mm reverse ring, original two-parts case, lens-shade (or hood), caps. No box and papers, but all boxed sets have been already bought by collectors – for million bucks for an each, you know…

A little explain for readers, who aren’t familiar with a macro-gear:

  • Macro extension tube aka Macro 1×1 adapter aka macro 1×1 converter aka 1×1 macro-ring, etc. Briefly: 1×1 macro means that if you have a coin with 10mm diameter than the projection of this coin will be 10mm on the sensor of your camera. 1×2 macro means that image of 10mm real coin will take just 5mm on the sensor etc. Another example: microscopes are optical systems with codings like 2×1, because projections are bigger than real items. So, without any additional options, this Macro Rokkor can provide 1×2 macro, but with attached extender – the ‘true’ 1×1. If you are going to take photos of an object with a size less than 24x36mm (35mm format) – you may need the tube. If an object is bigger – no need to attach it. Of course, such description is a simplification but can help at first steps.
  • Macro reverse ring. Many lenses, installed backward, turn into a macro. This ring has a 55mm thread to screw it on the front of a lens like a filter, and Minolta-SR mount bracing on the opposite side. The ring works for any possible lenses with 55mm filter thread.

Minolta MC Macro Rokkor QE 100mm 1:3.5 was born as ‘knurled’ – with deep grooves on the ring of sharpness, and has no previous versions. The next generation has got rubber focusing ring, so, if real ‘steel&glass’ models are needed – only this MCII incarnation is suitable. And no problems with the weight – rubberized MC-X models even heavier for 50gr (600gr instead of 550gr). If a lightweight is required then go to latest New MD generation, or MD Rokkors at least.

Sales date – September 1972.


Lens exterior:

(Please, forgive me the dust, I never have the patience to clean objects for close-up photo sessions)

Minolta MC Macro Rokkor QE 100mm f/3.5 accessories. Look at the 1×1 adapter – it has the tripod support:

On Minolta SR-T 101. This set is suitable, the camera and lens have were produced in the same period:


Lens code name – Rin Shima:

Rin Shima (志摩 リン) is a young girl from the show Yuru Camp who enjoys camping. She usually camps by herself, until she meets Nadeshiko Kagamihara.


Sharpness – close distance:

Test description: target is a 10×15 cm picture (printed, glossy photo paper), fixed on the wall by scotch. Distance – 1.7m. Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. All groups of shots were repeated 3 times for every target position on all apertures from fully opened up to F16, ISO-200, WB – same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot. After all needed shots have been taken for one target position – I moved the target to the next place. Main idea – to exclude the field curvature affect on so close distance. Of course, I can’t be absolutely accurate, but test results looks correct.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), then cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files

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

Rin_Shima_36 2print.png

Scene preview:

MCCM10035__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

Test results:

MCCM10035__c_res_close.jpg


Sharpness – long distance:

Test description: Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. Targets (buildings) were fixed by gravity power on the distances in more than 200 meters. All shots have been taken with apertures from fully opened up to F16. ISO-50. Shutter Speed – depends on light (camera A-mode), WB – fixed and the same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot to exclude focus-shift affect.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), then were cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.

Scene preview:

MCCM10035__e_far_preview.jpg

Test results:

MCCM10035__e_res_far.jpg


Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MCCM10035__f_vignettingNEW.png


Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCCM10035_geometry_81.jpg


Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MCCM10035__h_coma_aberr_.jpg


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MCCM10035__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


Long distance bokeh:

Test#1:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 0.45m, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is a demonstration of extreme conditions. In most cases of real-life photography, the blur level will be less, see the next Test#2.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCCM10035__k_bokeh_far_min_0_45m_NEW.png

Test#2:

Test conditions: lens was focused on 2m – ‘portrait distance’, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCCM10035__k_bokeh_far_mid_2_5m_NEW.png


Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test #1

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance 0.45m, lights were fixed in more than 200m.

Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is a demonstration of extreme conditions. In most cases of real-life photography the blur level will be less – see Test #2.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCCM10035__m_dots_far_min_0_45m_NEW.png

Test #2

Test conditions: lens was focused on 2m – ‘portrait distance’, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCCM10035__m_dots_far_mid_2_5m_NEW.png


My overall conclusion about the Minolta MC Macro Rokkor QE 50MM F3.5:

MCCM10035__Avatar.png

The lens has been tested like a normal lens, macro-abilities were skipped for today.

Here I see the hard choice – the shellproof exterior and feel of heavy metal in a hand, but the average or, better to say – not outstanding optic quality (yes, yes, we always expect a superior IQ from Minolta lenses) and the heavyweight body. I do not know whether to advise this lens or not. Judge for yourself:

  • It has not a good sharpness distribution over the frame up to F8 – because of lack of details at corners. It would be a problem for a normal lens but for macro shooting, F8 is just a minimal aperture, and F11-F16 are normal.
  • Chromatic aberrations are big enough if wide opened. But who cares about chromatics for today? That’s the one click on any good photo-editor.
  • The lens is too heavy from the modern point of view. It’s not convenient for the outdoors/field-macro sessions. But some people like the feeling during a process more than the final result.

And, as usual, it’s easy to perform CLA for the lens, even without special skills and expensive instruments. And prices for today still aren’t overheated.

I think this lens can be recommended just in case you take a close-up macro from time to time. If you shoot macros often, then I would advise you to choose something more modern. And, frankly, the reason is not so much in optical quality, but in weight.


 

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