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Review: Minolta MC W Rokkor HG 35mm 1:2.8

Minolta MC W Rokkor HG 35mm 1:2.8 lens review (“Hills&Valleys”, MC II).

This is the first lens that has been acquired after I decided to test every prime lens of Hills&Valleys generation. It was in “near mint”, or even maybe “like new” condition – almost no signs of use. Also, as it is known already, one of the best ever among any other possible in the whole world (my most favorite too) lens is New-MD 35/2.8 that’s why it was very interesting to see how the predecessor from MC-era works. It showed a strange result – the lack of resolution in middles and corners. But right after that sad day, I was lucky to get another copy. The second one has a lot of signs of use, signs of disassembling and removed aperture clicker-ball, even one of the screws has been lost. But after CLA it displays the really nice sharpness.

I still don’t know what is the reason for the difference in IQ between these two copies – a quality deviation, or damage of the first lens but without signs of an impact. (“Romantic” comparison will be published soon.) This article is based on test results from the second copy, but photos of the exterior were made with both.

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 doubt. One day I decided that my data might be interesting for someone else and this site has been made.

Minolta_Rokkor_MCC3528_086_exterior_logo.jpg

Minolta MC W Rokkor HG 35mm 1:2.8 parameters:

minolta.eazypix.de index 72
Name engraved on lens MC W.ROKKOR-HG
f[mm] 35
A max [1/f] 2.8
A min[1/f] 16
Lens design [el.] 7
Lens design [gr.] 6
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm] 52
Lens Shade screw-in
closefocus[m/ft] 0.4/1.25
Dimension Ø x length [mm] 63×45
Weight[g] 210
Year 1970
Style MC II
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No. 619-118
Notes

Floating elements NO
Aperture blades number 6
Average international price (sold items) 2019: USD 30-50
Reviewed Lens SN: copy #1 – 4548671

copy #2 – 4589362

SLR lenses with parameters 35mm 1:2.8 were in the production during the whole Minolta-SR lifecycle from the start of the in 1958 till the end in 80′. These lenses have been presented in every possible design reincarnation – AR I, AR II, AR C, MC I, MC II, MC X, MC CE, MD CE, MD I, MD II, MD III.  Some collector’s records contain more than 20 modifications exclude known prototypes.

It seems, that the difference of this reviewed MC II with the previous one – MC I (“long grip” of “flat grip”) – is just in the shape of a focusing ring, but one notice: that period was a time of experiments and changes, so it is better to keep in mind that IQ and performance can be different even inside one group of products.



Lens exterior:

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

Copy #1:

Accessories:

On Minolta SR-T 101 camera, it’s a suitable set – both are from the one era of design:

Copy #2:


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)

Ruru_2print_20.png

Scene preview:

MCC3528__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

Test results:

MCC3528CP2__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:

MCC3528bad__e_far_preview.jpg

Test results:

MCC3528good__e_res_far.jpg


Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MCC3528__f_vignettingNEW.png


Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC3528_geometry_72.jpg


Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MCC3528__h_coma_aberr_.jpg


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MCC3528__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


Long distance bokeh:

Test#1:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 0.4m, 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 Test#2.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC3528__k_bokeh_far_min_0_40m_NEW

Test#2:

Test conditions: lens was focused on 1m – ‘portrait distance’, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC3528__k_bokeh_far_mid_1_0m_NEW


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)

MCC3528__m_dots_far_1min_0_4m_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)

MCC3528__m_dots_far_2mid_1_0m_NEW.png


Other resources with reviews:

Disassembly (MC-I is on the video, but MC-II is the same)


My overall conclusion about the Minolta MC Rokkor-HG 35mm F/2.8:

AvatarReview_MCC3528.png

Standard advantages (most of Hills&Valleys styled Minolta lenses have these specialties):

  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • Gives “Steel and Glass” feelings
  • Eazy to fix and CLA with using of minimum skills and tools

The lens has a hidden power side – the bokeh. 35mm focal distance can be named as “moderately wide” and suitable for any styles of photography, but of course, a wide lens with F2.8 isn’t able to provide deep DOF on average and long distances, on the other hand, it is greatly suitable for short distances – you know, all that flowers/herbs, home stuff, elements of interior, decorations on Christmas trees, toys/statuettes, etc. It’s strictly art lens – perspective distortion because of “short” 35mm in sum with smooth bokeh and amazing light-bubbles may help you to create a lot of beautiful shots. And for such tasks, the sharpness of the lens is more than enough.

The previous sentence helps me turn to disadvantages. Lens has a lack of sharpness in the middle and corner positions. Far or short distances – it doesn’t matter. It isn’t a good behavior for wide lenses because it drives us to close the aperture more and more. It seems to me that landscapes will require more than F8 for this Rokkor.

As a result: I can’t recommend it for the role of an everyday lens, but it seems to me as a very suitable tool for art.


2 Comments »

  1. It’s a truly controversial lens! While it provides great look and feel, optically not so good, but on digital! Those vintage coatings on last (I mean back element) are more suitable for matte film, than glancing reflecting digital sensor! Try it on film, the results will be different. Also, lens is prone to back element separation. Several lens, that I’ve seen, had such problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I fully support your findings. The construction of the lens is to blame for the corner unsharpness as it is a Tessar type lens with a wide-angle converter in front of the Tessar. Also other brands used this lens construction for their first 35mm reflex lenses, with similar lack of sharpness in corners.
    Later designs were more sophisticated and real wide angle designs, which explains the differences between the md and earlier mc versions.

    Liked by 1 person

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