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Review: Minolta MC MACRO Rokkor QF 50mm 1:3.5

Minolta MC Macro Rokkor QF 50mm 1:3.5 (Hills&Valleys/Knurled design, or MCII by collector’s classification) lens review.

I like vintage lenses that can be used today regardless of age. This macro-fifty is one of that type – independently of the year of production, it makes  ‘macro’ or ‘object’ photos like any other macro lenses even modern. No, I’m not going to say that this lens is resolution monster or opponents killer, no, it’s just an instrument which is able to cover 95% of photographer’s “50mm focal distance macro tasks” with the same result as super-duper another lenses.

By chance, I’ve got two copies for the review. The first was with a nice set (no box and papers, but full up to case), sadly this copy has noticeable scratches on the front lens. The second copy was in less set – just an 1×1 macro adapter and reverse-adapter. After the ‘lens-romantic’ comparison I realized that the first copy is a slightly better independently of scratched front lens, that’s why optical performance tests are based on copy #1.

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.

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.

MCCM5035__exterior_619.jpg

Minolta MC Macro Rokkor QF 50mm F/3.5 parameters:

minolta.eazypix.de index 107
Name engraved on lens MC MACRO ROKKOR-QF
f 50
A max 3.5
A min 22
Elements 6
Groups 4
Filter thread 55
Lens Shade
close 0.23/0.9
Dimension 68×55
Weight 330
Year 1967
Style MC II
Code No. 630-028

Floating elements NO
Aperture blades number 6
Average international price (sold items) 2019: USD 50
Reviewed Lens SN: 1501435

mccm5035_tony_optical_design2

Minolta MC Macro Rokkor QF 50mm f/3.5 optical design scheme


The lens got a ‘knurled’ or ‘hills&valley’ exterior – this is named so because of deep grooves on the ring of sharpness. This lens has a one direct predecessor – Minolta Macro Rokkor QF 50mm 1:3.5 (from 1961) – ‘SR’ by collectors classification, so, unlike of previously reviewed Minolta MC Macro 100mm 1:3.5 (from 1972) this older (from 1967) 50mm Macro can’t be called as the first in a row.

The first one (sn.1501435) is heavier for 2 grams than the second (sn.2503371). Not worth  to speak.


Lens exterior:

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

Reviewed copy sn.1501435:

Accessories:

Copy #2 – sn.2503371:

How it looks on the camera Minolta SR-T101 – such combination is very authentic – the lens and this camera were in production in the same time period:


Lens code name – Hitagi Senjougahara:

Hitagi Senjougahara (戦場ヶ原 ひたぎ, Senjōgahara Hitagi) is a third-year student of Naoetsu Private High School. She is considered to be a frail-looking girl with an “incurable disease” and is distant from others.

In an accidental encounter with Koyomi Araragi, her closely kept secret is exposed and triggers a life-changing experience. In the course of the series she receives the nickname Gahara and uses the alias Senshougahara.


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)

Hitagi Senjougahara_6_2print.png

Scene preview:

MCCM5035__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

Test results:

MCCM5035CP2__c_res_close


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:

MCCM5035vsMDM5035__e_far_preview

Test results:

MCCM5035CP2__e_res_try2_far.jpg


Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MCCM5035__f_vignettingNEW.png


Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCCM5035_geometry_73.jpg


Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MCCM5035__h_coma_aberr_.jpg


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MCCM5035__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


Long distance bokeh:

Test#1:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 0.23m, 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)

MCCM5035__k_bokeh_far_min_0_23m__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)

MCCM5035__k_bokeh_far_mid_2_0m_NEW.png


Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test #1

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance 0.23m, 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)

MCCM5035__m_dots_far_min_0_3m_NEW.png

Note: that lines on the light-bubbles are the result of scratches on the front lens. (For those who know: yes, it looks close to another type of lines provided by separation of clued elements but it is not about this lens)

Test #2

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

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCCM5035__k_dots_far_mid_2_0m_NEW_.png


Other resources with reviews:


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

MCCM5035__Avatar

The first standard advantage of ‘knurled’ Minoltas – glass and metal only, no any plastic or rubber. The second advantage – not so heavy as it can be expected with such a design. The third advantage – there is no optical weakness on closed apertures.

Disadvantages: only one – it has issues with sharpness if wide opened. Absolutely not critical for the macro lens but it should be mentioned because modern macro lenses work good on fully opened apertures and amateurs are using that as universal tools – macro, portraits, interiors, anything… So, this Minolta can be used in such universal mode too, just need to remember about less of sharpness on F3.5.

One other important goodie: true 1×1 macro is available with the original adapter.

The lens isn’t rare, it can be the convenient and cheap solution if a photographer needs to get a good macro for occasional sessions without big efforts and prices – auto-focus isn’t a must-have option for macro.

As a result: the nice macro-lens with a metal feeling in hands and ready for most of the photographer tasks which are linked with 50mm macro distances. Even from the modern point of view.


 

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