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Review: Minolta MC W.Rokkor NL 21mm 1:2.8

Minolta MC W.Rokkor NL 21mm f/2.8 lens review (‘Hills&Valleys/Knurled’ design, or ‘MC II’ style by collectors classification)

It’s just my personal opinion but the mix of ultra-wide focal distance and the demonstrated resolution was one of the biggest surprises during the testing of lenses from MC II generation.


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.

MCC2128_exterior_173_logo

Minolta MC W.Rokkor NL 21mm f:2.8 parameters:

# in minolta.eazypix.de index 22
Name engraved on lens MC W.ROKKOR-NL
f[mm] 21
A max [1/f] 2.8
A min[1/f] 16
Lens design [el.] 12
Lens design [gr.] 9
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm] 72
Lens Shade clamp-on
closefocus[m/ft] 0.25/1
Dimension Ø x length [mm] 75×67
Weight[g] 510
Year 1971
Style MC II
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No. 609

Floating elements YES
Aperture blades number 6
Average international price (sold items) 2019: USD 250-300
Reviewed Lens SN: 1502057

This optical design looks fantastic if to remember that the lens is from the 1971 year. “Hills&Valleys” or “Knurled” design was the first reincarnation of the lens with such parameters: 21mm F2.8. It was rubberized in the next MC-X generation in 1973. Lens has an interesting construction – the front lens is rotating during the focusing but the frame with the filter thread doesn’t move. So, if you will see in some materials that this lens has a rotating front lens – don’t worry: it wouldn’t affect a workflow with polarising or gradient filters.


Lens exterior:

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

MCC2128_exterior_177_logo

Lens shade needs a dedicated gallery because very huge and solid. There is a blue dot on the lens barrel and a blue dot on the lens shade. There are also four cuts in the base of the lens shade. When the two blue dots are lined up, the cuts in the lens shade are in correspondence to the corners of the picture. These cuts are to avoid vignetting. The dots must line up between them to have the lens shade in the right orientation on the lens:

On camera Minolta SRT-101:


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)

Alisa_Ilimichina_Amiella_2Print.jpg

Scene preview:

MCC2128__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

Test results:

MCC2128__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:

(note for perfectionists: do not pay attention to the slope of the horizon, please, … seriously)

MCC2128__e_far_preview.jpg

Test results:

MCC2128__e_res_far.jpg


Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MCC2128__f_vignettingNEW.png


Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC2128_geometry_45.jpg


Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MCC2128__h_coma_aberr_.jpg


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MCC2128__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


Long distance bokeh:

Test#1:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 0.25m, 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.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC2128__k_bokeh_far_min_0_25m_NEW.png


Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test #1

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance 0.25m, lights were fixed in more than 200m.

Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is demonstration of extreme conditions. In most cases of real-life photography the blur level will be less – see Test #2.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC2128__m_dots_far_1min_0_25_m_NEW.png

Test #2

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

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MCC2128__m_dots_far_2mid_1_0m_NEW.png


My overall conclusion about the Minolta MC W.Rokkor NL 21mm 1:2.8:

AvatarReview_MCC2128.png

Let me avoid the “gem” term because it is too difficult to objectively evaluate the lenses with so wide angle of view – it’s a territory of landscapes photographers and some of them can be a “very perfectionist”, but this lens definitely should be a part of sets for photographers who are using Minolta SR-mount lenses and prefer old Rokkors. All tests show excellent results, I don’t see any shortcomings worth mentioning. And the test of geometric distortion can be highlighted – the corrected geometry looks great, it’s an important trait for a so wide angle. I would say that this lens from the early 70′ works unexpectedly nice. Strongly recommend with no doubts.

And don’t forget about standard advantages for any lens of this generation, briefly:

  • Easy to perform CLA
  • Steel & Glass feeling in the hands
  • May help to save your pockets in crime districts

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