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Review: Minolta MC Rokkor PF 58mm 1:1.4

Minolta MC Rokkor PF 58mm F/1.4 lens review (Hills&Valleys/Knurled design, or MCII by collector’s classification).

This is the well known, enough cheap and very popular ‘near fifty’ lens, can be an easy find in auctions or flea-markets around the whole world. I’ve read a lot of different opinions from skeptical to over-positive and this review is another one try to sort out with this lens.

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.

Minolta_Rokkor_MCC5814_073_exterior_logo.jpg

Minolta MC Rokkor PF 58mm 1:1.4 parameters:

minolta.eazypix.de index 135
Name engraved on lens MC ROKKOR-PF
f[mm] 58
A max [1/f] 1.4
A min[1/f] 16
Lens design [el.] 6
Lens design [gr.] 5
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm] 55
Lens Shade D55NA
closefocus[m/ft] 0.6/2
Dimension Ø x length [mm] 65×41
Weight[g] 275
Year 1969
Style MC II
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No. 639
Notes revised optical construction

Floating elements NO
Aperture blades number 6
Average international price (sold items) 2019: USD 75-100
Reviewed lens SN: 5511719

Two copies have been used for this review. At first, I’ve bought cheap one sn.5721556 with the oiled diaphragm (15 mins for cleaning) but later was lucky to get the truly boxed kit of Minolta SRT-101 and lens sn.5511719 – I even published the dedicated article about that ‘incident’. ‘Lens-Romantic’ test showed that the behavior of these copies are similar, so I decided to review the second one – boxed copy.

Opposite to other lenses from the ‘Hills&Valleys’ generation which is often were the first in the product lines of Minolta lenses this MC PF 58mm F1.4 is the last version in the row with three predecessors (58/1.4 AR-II, AR-C, MC-I by collectors classification). Later Minolta stopped to produce 58mm lenses and switched to 50mm only.

That was the period of experiments, and lenses have changes in design during the production period. Advanced collectors say about dozens of inventions, my two copies also not similar and it can be seen without disassembling. Does it mean that the optical performance of different copies is noticeable? These two sn5511719 and sn5721556 works like twins. What about the earliest and latest models – I don’t know.


“If you want to know how many optical versions there are… 1.Early AR-II, SNs: 11xxxxx, 2,Late AR-II, SNs: 12xxxxx and 20xxxxx, 3.AR-C, 4.MC-I and 5.MC-II. The difference between MC-I and MC-II is extremely slight. I think it has more to do with the glass used than with physical dimensions, although the rear element is slightly thinner in the MC-II version. Someday I will get my detailed analysis of the version ready for publishing.”

Maury Jacks


Lens exterior:

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

On Minolta SR-T 101 camera. Both camera and lens, are from one kit:


Lens code name – Yukino Yukinoshita 雪ノ下 雪乃:

Yukino Yukinoshita (雪ノ下 雪乃 Yukinoshita Yukino?) is the student of Class 2J of Sobu High School and also the president of the school’s Service Club. She was the lone member until Hachiman Hikigaya joined her.


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)

Yukino Yukinoshita 21 2print.jpg

Scene preview:

MCC5814__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

Test results:

MCC5814__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:

MCC5814__e_far_preview.jpg

Test results:

MCC5814__e_res_far.jpg


Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MCC5814__f_vignettingNEW.jpg


Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC5814_geometry_76.jpg


Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MCC5814__h_coma_aberr_.jpg


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MCC5814__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)

MCC5814__k_bokeh_far_min_0_60m_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)

MCC5814__k_bokeh_far_mid_2_0m_NEW.png


Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test #1

Test conditions: lens was focused on 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)

MCC5814__m_dots_far_1min_0_6m_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)

MCC5814__m_dots_far_2mid_2_0m_NEW.png


Other resources with reviews:


My overall conclusion about the Minolta MC Rokkor PF 58mm F/1.4:

MCC5814__Avatar.png

Everything depends on photographer’s taste and camera, but from my point of view, it needs to avoid a wide opened aperture. The next F2 can be OK for some portraits, but better to start from F2.8. Good news is that from F5.6 it is ready for any tasks including landscapes, not a bad result by the way, even for some modern fifties.


“One day I shot portraits of a girl with this lens on a7rII. Initially I used f2 and when I took a shot and checked the result, I found the lens was too sharp for the girl’s not so good skin condition so I immediately changed to f1.4 and got very good result. I just love these vintage lenses because you buy and carry only one lens but get the results of two lenses, unlike those expensive modern lenses so called designed for digital imaging that are stupidly sharp even wide open, honestly showing each every tiny hill and valley on girls’ faces.”

Feng Xu


I don’t see other disadvantages except the softness F1.4-2.0, so, let’s turn to powerful sides. Great rendering is in the first place. Bubbles of light with contrast borders over the smooth background can impress anyone. Historically, this lens stays in the shadow of bokeh-monster Minolta MC 58/1.2, but it seems wrong for me – both lenses are absolutely different by rendering, and both can be recommended for portraiture or art-of-bokeh styles… Strongly recommend.

The other side of the beautiful bokeh is a stack of aberrations and here I can see the usual case for Minolta lenses – the level of aberrations is not so big as it can be expected for the lens with such rendering abilities. Even a softness on the wide opened aperture can be partly fixed with just a simple contrast slider in the RAW-editors.

Other standard goodies which belong to most of Hills&Valleys Minolta lenses: steel&glass design for the fans of the feeling of heavy metal, it can be fully disassembled, fixed, cleaned and reassembled with a kitchen knife.

And about the focal distance: 58mm is a nice for portraiture. Not for a “full face” of course but for “half-body” at least. Anyway, it is a little bit more preferable than 50mm.

After the getting of tests results, I don’t realize the one: why the prices of this lens are so low on auctions? Let me add it into the list of the most underrated lenses. It has: nice design and feel, low aberrations, enough good sharpness, stunning bokeh, portraiture-ready but not too long focal distance. In other words – the absolutely universal near-fifty lens with a nice IQ. Grab it if you meet it – it’s a good chance to get a favorite tool in a photographer bag.


This lens took part in the battle:

MCC5814_Romantic_Avatar.png

MCC5812vsMCC5814_Avatar_Battle.png

2 Comments »

  1. Another awesome review, I love this website, thanks for all this hard work! I agree with your review, this lens and the 58mm 1.2 are very different in rendering. It has such a distinct look and with so many aberrations, it’s very unique but I could never get used to it. I’ve found that the 55mm 1.7 (MC-II hill-valley) better compares to the 58mm 1.2 in terms of rendering, a proper “little sister” or a “poor mans 58mm 1.2”.

    Liked by 1 person

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