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Review: Minolta MC W Rokkor SG 28mm 1:3.5

Minolta MC W Rokkor SG 28mm F/3.5 (“Hills&Valleys”/”Knurled” design or MC II by collectors classification) lens review.

28mm/f3.5 – the only one available true wide lens for photographers who need wide-angle in Minolta’s “steel&glass” style for reasonable money and without radioactivity. There were no alternatives in that period.

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_MCC2835_100_exterior_logo.jpg

Minolta MC W Rokkor SG 28mm 1:3.5 parameters:

minolta.eazypix.de index 56
Name engraved on lens MC W.ROKKOR-SG
f[mm] 28
A max [1/f] 3.5
A min[1/f] 16
Lens design [el.] 7
Lens design [gr.] 7
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm] 55
Lens Shade D55ND
closefocus[m/ft] 0.6/2
Dimension Ø x length [mm] 63×45
Weight[g] 245
Year 1970
Style MC II
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No. 604-118
Notes

Floating elements NO
Aperture blades number 6
Average international price (sold items) 2020: USD 30-50
Reviewed Lens SN: 1577234

By one of the popular collector’s classification by Dennis Lohmann, Minolta has produced a total of 25 different lenses with a 28mm focal distance. This achievement stays in second place by the number of models, right after 135mm lenses. And ten of these 28mm lenses have f=3.5. (note: in some advanced collectors materials this number of models with f=3.5 is about 15). The currently reviewed MC II 28/3.5 “Hills&Valleys/Knurled” is from somewhere in the middle of the row. It has three predecessors with the same formula 7×7 but that was a period of improvements and experiments, and the IQ of lenses may be different not only between generations but even inside one line of production.


Lens exterior:

Accessories:

On Minolta SR-T 101 camera:


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)

Bishamon _5_2print.png

Scene preview:

MCC2835__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

Test results:

MCC2835__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:

MCC2835__e_far_preview.jpg

Test results:

MCC2835__e_res_far.jpg


Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MCC2835__f_vignettingNEW.jpg


Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC2835_geometry_69.jpg


Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MCC2835__h_coma_aberr_.jpg


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MCC2835__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


Long distance bokeh:

Test#1:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 0.6m, 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)

MCC2835__k_bokeh_far_min_0_6m_NEW.png

Test#2:

Test conditions: lens was focused on 1m – ‘portrait distance’ for ’28mm’, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC2835__k_bokeh_far_mid_1_0m_NEW.png


Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test #1

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance 0.6m, 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)

MCC2835__m_dots_far_1min_0_6m_NEW.png

Test #2

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

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC2835__m_dots_far_2mid_1_0m_NEW.png


My overall conclusion about the Minolta MC W Rokkor SG 28MM F/3.5:

AvatarReview_MCC2835.png

I said above that this lens has no alternatives among other “metal & glass” designed lenses because it’s cheap and not radioactive. Let me explain what we have beyond: non-rectilinear fish-eye 16mm 1:2.8, expensive 21mm 1:2.8, radioactive 28mm 1:2.5, and not so wide 35mm lenses. As a result, if a photographer needs wide-angle for a reasonable price and cares about rare-earth materials – this MC 28/3.5 is number first in the list… and only one in the list.

Nice news: we have no reason to be sad  – this lens works fine. Yes, it isn’t a resolution champion and needs to be closed up to F8 for landscapes, but – for any other tasks, it can be used even wide-opened. Thus this not very fast F3.5 should be marked as useful. Add here very low aberrations, nicely fixed geometry distortion, small size, and lightweight.

Another good generation traits standard for MC II:

  • Easy to CLA with something like a toothpick and adjustable wrench
  • It may survive in a small fire, as it does not have rubber and plastic
  • Due to the fact that the lens is old, there is a small chance that it was used to photograph celebrities in the 70s, and some old photons were stuck in the glass and it may help to create a few masterpieces

Of course, I recommend this lens – it isn’t a gem but a very good tool for a photographer with taste.


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