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Review: Minolta MC Rokkor PG 58mm 1:1.2 (updated)

Minolta MC Rokkor PG 58mm 1:1.2 lens review (‘Hills&Valleys/Knurled’ design, or ‘MC-II’ style by collectors classification).

This is the second edition of the original article. There were two reasons for the update,  the first is that new tests have been made during the comparing this lens with others from the MC-II series and some other materials were added into the article.

The second reason is the required changing of avatar for this lens, as the old one has violated the logic of avatar’s selection for lenses… Never mind…

Simply put – it is the updated and improved article about the legend of the optical industry.

So yes, this lens has “The legend” status, it’s well known and demanded by collectors or photographers. The popularity is happened because of the fact that Minolta MC PG 58mm 1/1.2 is on the top in the list of ‘bokeh monsters for a whole human history of photography’. Even, maybe, it is Number One Monster by popularity. If a photographer thinks about bokeh rendering, cares about “3D effect” on photos and looking for the best tool ever – then this lens should be in the photographer’s bag.

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_MCC5812_066_exterior_logo.jpg

Minolta MC Rokkor PG 58mm F/1.2 parameters:

minolta.eazypix.de index 130
Name engraved on lens MC ROKKOR-PG
f 58
A max 1.2
A min 16
Elements 7
Groups 5
Filter thread 55
Lens Shade D55NC
close 0.6/2
Dimension 69×54
Weight 455
Year 1970
Style MC II
Code No. 633

Floating elements NO
Aperture blades number 8
Average international price (sold items) 2019: USD 300-400
Reviewed Lens SN: 2571424

My copy has s/n 2571424. It’s MC-II version, or the second of totally three versions available (a simplified approach – to avoid the digging into different marks and colors of marks):

  • #1 – full metal but not “Hills&Valleys/Knurled”
  • #2 – full metal “Hills&Valleys/Knurled”
  • #3 – rubberized

All three versions look optically identical. Strictly speaking, it isn’t true for 100% because that was a period of permanent experiments and updates of production Minolta lenses,  this fact matters most for collectors, I’m not sure that photographers have a chance to feel the difference. But differences in body design can be seen easily.

I’m grateful to professional Minolta collectors for the information about a more accurate range of serial numbers of non-radioactive samples than the one that was known on the internet so far. Instead of “something around 256x” the range which is starting from ‘2568164’ is at least exactly non-radioactive. But the risk is still possible with serials close to this number because some parts may be mixed during production. On the other hand: there is no need to overestimate the danger of radioactive lenses. Especially from Minolta – even the first generation of these Rokkor-PG lenses have a fairly low level of radiations. Try to find more details about radioactive lenses if you are afraid, most of them can’t hurt you, if to follow some simple rules.

BTW: The yellowed coating of radioactive copies can be easily corrected by sunlight or even some LED lamps.


Lens exterior:

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

Mounted on Minolta SR-T 101 camera. This set is authentic, both camera and lens were in production in the same period of time:


The original lens shade is coded as D55NC, also the later version is existed – without code but with simple text on a side “MC 58mm F 1.2” – even more suitable for MC-II generation.

Here you can see the picture from the internet. It’s temporary – until I’m getting my own one (own shade I mean, not an own picture):

MCC5812_tmp_shot.jpg


Additionally: this is not suitable but popular lens shade – Minolta D57KB which is authentic for Minolta Auto Rokkor-PF 55mm F1.8 and Auto Rokkor-PF 58mm F1.4 – it works enough good, and photographers often recommend it because of convenient attaching:

Attention: this lens-shade gives a slight vignetting at corners on opened apertures. Thanks to Jan Koning for that notice and for the scheme with proof:

70334507_2405161193137600_7116890143822184448_n.png

BTW: Jan is also the owner of the first noted non-radioactive copy, which was mentioned above)

Note: many companies called such devices as “Lens Hood” (wiki), but Minolta is from a team who prefers “Lens Shade”.


Lens code name – Misaka Mikoto:

Misaka Mikoto (御坂 美琴 Misaka Mikoto?) (born May 2[2]) is one of the main heroines in Toaru Majutsu no Index and the main protagonist of Toaru Kagaku no Railgun. Introduced in the first volume of the light novels, her role in the story was later expanded in the third volume as well as the release of the Toaru Kagaku no Railgun manga, making her the main heroine of the science side and the second main heroine of the series.

She is the third-ranked Level 5 esper in Academy City, and has been nicknamed Railgun due to her signature move.


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)

Misaka Mikoto 1 2print.png

Scene preview:

MCC5812V2__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

Test results:

MCC5812V2__c_res_close.jpg


Resolution – close distance, the detailed test for all sides and corners:

Test description: target is a 10×15 cm picture (printed, glossy photo paper), fixed on the wall by scotch. Distance is 1.8m – can be good for portraits. 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 9 times for every target position on all apertures from fully opened up to F16, ISO-100, WB – same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. The 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.

test_scene_view300x200

Main idea – to exclude the field curvature affect on so close distance.

Of course, I can’t be absolutely accurate, but so many repeats of shots – 4 for corners, 2 for long side, 2 for short side are giving me insurance that test results are 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.

Scene preview:

MinoltaMC5812_scene_preview

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

730578

Test results (selected version, easy to compare – 4 positions):

MinoltaMC5812_SHORT

Test results (full version – all 9 positions):

MinoltaMC5812_FULL


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:

MCC5812V2__e_far_preview.jpg

Test results:

MCC5812V2__e_res_far.jpg


Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MC5812_vignetting


Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC5812_geometry_75.jpg


Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MCC5812V2__h_coma_aberr_.jpg


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MCC5812V2__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


Close distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance + 10% of scale (0.7m), plants were fixed in 2m distance from the camera in front of the window with bright light from outside.

(frame scaled 1200×800, bokeh covers the frame partially)

MC5812_bokeh_close


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)

MCC5812V2__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)

MCC5812V2__k_bokeh_far_mid_2_0m_NEW.png


Light dots bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance + 10% of scale (about 0.7 m), diodes were fixed in 2m distance at the dark background.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MC5812_dots


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)

MCC5812V2__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)

MCC5812V2__m_dots_far_2mid_2_0m_NEW.png


Other resources with reviews:

Full disassembly procedure:


My overall conclusion about Minolta MC Rokkor-PG 58mm 1:1.2F (Minolta MC 58mm F/1.2):

MCC5812V2__Avatar.png

Usually, it is difficult to maintain a personal opinion under the pressure of statements from three generations of photographers. But I haven’t collected something new or uncommon about the behavior of this Rokkor – everything looks like expected after the reading “of statements from three generations of photographers”.

Let’s start from the disadvantages: the lens is big, heavy and not convenient in using. It has huge all-types aberrations on F1.2, and even more – a little softness can be seen in corners up to F8. It’s possible to say that lens is better than most of another lens with the same characteristics from the same age, but it is not very good in a distribution of a sharpness over the frame – from the modern point of view.

On the other hand – the sharpness can be called as amazing for the Center and Middle positions of a frame. A softness is presented of course, but lens hasn’t issues with displaying of details even on F1.2. I dodn’t understand how it possible, but that’s an ideal for the portraiture.

As any another ‘Knurled’ Rokkor it gives the amazing feeling of Steel&Glass lens in hands and looks like a tank. But be careful – the lens has quite thin elements in the internal structure and can be damaged as a result of careless handling. I’m not going to say that construction is unreliable, it isn’t of course, because a lot of these lenses continue to work from 70′ up to today, it was just a note – MC 58/1.2 PG has more complicated construction than other Minolta fifties. Unlike for other MC-II lenses, I can’t repeat words that it can be reassembled and tuned with a kitchen knife in 10 mins (see the video above by Matt Bierner).

All these issues are a payment for the possibility of taking photos with one of the most attractive art-lens in the world. MC PG 58/1.2 has the unique combination of some parameters – 58mm focal distance, huge front and back elements, 8 aperture blades and good enough IQ starting from F1.2 – all of this makes the lens ideal for an objects/portraits photography. Actually, I can’t say that such bokeh is the best one – a lot of another lens are able to provide the ‘smooth and creme and bla-bla-bla’ abstract pictures on a  background, but only this lens can mix really lovely bokeh with thin DOF and with 58mm perspective, it gives a good chance to create magic photos in absolutely trivial environments.

On the other hand – this lens isn’t a good choice for common photography or for the role of universal gear – because of disadvantages mentioned above and because not all scenes need such approach: on closed apertures this monster stops to be outstanding, and limitations come to the fore. You know the common idea about “All lenses are the same at F8”.

As a result: I think that the lens isn’t too overpriced – such possibilities are worth to its market price. This is the unique lens which can make photographers happy, especially those who like thin DOF and games with bokeh. Gladly, this lens is not rare: there are a lot of copies on auctions anytime, just prices are growing more and more.

I hope that those who are familiar with the culture of manga and anime will approve of my choice of avatar – Misaka Mikoto, because epic lenses should be presented by epic avatars.


This lens took part in battles:

MC5812_MD5012_Battle__Avatar

MCC5812vsMCC5814_Avatar_Battle.png

2 Comments »

  1. Thank you very much for your very interesting review and all your work.

    I was wondering if this lens could be a reasonable upgrade to the MC-II 58/1.4 you reviewed before.

    The 58/1.4 is my favourite lens for portraiture at f/2 to f/3.2; and for artistic purposes i find its f/1.4 rendering really unique.

    Do you think is worth to change the 58/1.4 for the 58/1.2? Its high price and weight are issues though.

    All the best,

    Like

  2. Thank you for your words, I’m glad to hear it. About the difference between Rokkor MC 58/1.2 and Rokkor MC 58/1.4 – I’m going to publish the comparison tests at the next week, but right now can say that PG 58/1.2 is much more sharper than F1.4 lens on f1.2-F4.0 diapason. Corners are the same or so, but sharpness in the middle and center is significantly better. Is it worth to upgrade from the cheaper one? – such choice is very personal

    Like

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