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Review: Chiyoko Super Rokkor 45mm f:2.8 Minolta

Lens review: Lens review: Chiyoko Super Rokkor 1:2.8 f=45mm. (LTM, Leica Thread Mount, or LSM, Leica Screw Mount, or M39)

This is the first “Minolta” interchangeable lens for the most popular in the world 35mm standard – the new era has been opened. It is difficult to overestimate its historical significance. In a sense, it can be called as the great-grandmother of modern lenses Minolta/Sony family.

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.

MSR4528_Minolta35B_exterior_812 copy.jpg

Chiyoko Super Rokkor f=45mm f/2.8 parameters:

Name engraved on the lens Chiyoko SUPER ROKKOR
f[mm] 45
A max [1/f] 2.8
A min[1/f] 16
Lens design [el.] 5
Lens design [gr.] 3
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm] 34
Lens Shade
closefocus[m] 1
Dimension Ø x length [mm] 48/31.3
Weight[g] 160
Year 1947 – 1955(?)
Style
Notes six editions but always the same 5/3 schema

Floating elements NO
Aperture blades number 8
Average international price (sold items) 2020: USD 150
Reviewed Lens SN: 7504

According to canonrangefinder.org this lens has six versions:

  • 45mm f2.8 first series (1947-1948): serial numbers 20xx, 30xx, 40xx.
  • 45mm f2.8 second series (1948-1949): serial numbers 30xx to 150xx.
  • 45mm f2.8 third series (1949-1951): serial numbers 150xx, 160xx, 170xx. First 45mm f2.8 to have a focusing lever.
  • 45mm f2.8 fourth series (1951-1952): serial numbers 15xx to 200xx. First 45mm f2.8 without the circular opening showing the f-stop.
  • 45mm f2.8 fifth series (1952-1953): serial numbers 135xxx.45mm f2.8
  • sixth series (1953-1955): serial numbers 140xxxx. No provision for the small 19mm filter in the inner lens ring, such as in previous 45mm f2.8 lenses.

The lens was designed for Minolta-35 – rangefinder camera. The first generations of these cameras have a 24x32mm frame, instead of a world standard 24x36mm. So, the unusual 45mm lenses on Minolta-35 provide the same result as much more common 50mm lenses on the cameras produced by other competitors. Chiyoko is noticeably compact and has dimensions close to collapsible 50mm lenses which were enough popular in those times because of sizes but had certain disadvantages.

About the lens name: it is just a contraction of first syllables of “Chiyoda Cogaku”:

In September 1937, the company became Chiyoda Kōgaku Seikō K.K. (千代田光学精工㈱, meaning Chiyoda Optics and Precision Industry Co., Ltd.), abbreviated “Chiyoko” (千代光) on some logos and publications.[15] (The word Chiyoda was created with the characters 千代, meaning “one thousand generations” and 田, the first character of Tashima’s name; it conveys the meaning that Tashima’s company will last a thousand generations.)[16]

camera-wiki.org

The reviewed copy is perfectly preserved and has no noticeable signs of use that could affect the test results. (Black dots on the glass on some photos are just a result of my carelessness – it turned out to be easy to blow away but I have done it after the photo-session. (Please, forgive me the dust on the lens, I never have the patience to clean objects for close-up photos))

By the way:

Almost all four lenses from that rangefinder initial generation have been reviewed, it may help to better understand characters and traits of lenses from that period:

And a few of LTM Minolta later models:


Lens exterior:

On the camera Minolta-35 (Model B) – it’s a very authentic combination. I give 99% to the chance that this couple has been purchased as a kit:


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)

Konata_Izumi_10_2print.jpg

Scene preview:

MSR4528__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

Test results:

MSR4528__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, believe me – it wasn’t my inaccuracy, just a necessary to bind the image to certain points)

MSR4528__e_far_preview.jpg

Test results:

MSR4528__e_res_far.jpg


Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MSR4528__f_vignettingNEW.png


Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MSR4528_geometry_772.jpg


Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MSR4528__h_coma_aberr_.jpg


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MSR4528__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


Long distance bokeh:

Test#1:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 1m, 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)

MSR4528__k_bokeh_far_min_NEW.png

Test#2:

Test conditions: lens was focused on 3m – ‘portrait distance’, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MSR4528__k_bokeh_far_mid_NEW.png


Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test #1

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 1m, 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)

MSR4528__m_dots_far_min_NEW.png

Test #2

Test conditions: lens was focused on 3m – ‘portrait distance’, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MSR4528__m_dots_far_mid_NEW.png


Minolta Chiyoko Super Rokkor 45MM 1:2.8:

AvatarReview_MSR4528.png

The unexpectedly useful lens even from the modern point of view. Honestly, I’m not a fan of such old-school optics and not going to recommend it as a standard lens for every day, but I’m sure – if a photographer is enough skilled this lens may help to create amazing photos.

The most unusual behavior – is the strange sharpness distribution over the frame on long-distances: the lens is able to provide to us amazing center, good corners(!) but weak middle positions. An owner needs to remember about this trait in any aperture up to F8. It isn’t a unique behavior – many rangefinder lenses work in the same way.

And it seems to me that this strange weakness in the middle became one of the reasons for the exciting and “swirly” boke.

Other aberrations quite standard: just a little bit too heavy vignetting may be added into a list of weakness but coma and chromatic aberrations almost absent, the same about geometric distortion – it’s low enough.

Conclusion: the lens is small, lightweight, reliable, can be used on any Leica-M, LTM and mirrorless cameras, has a weakness regarding sharpness in the middle position but still enough sharp and may provide incredible pictures if an owner is ready to play with bokeh. Anyway, I would recommend it to the role of art-tool, but not as a standard lens of everyday photography on modern digital sensors. Grand-grandmother still looks really cool.

Chiyoko ROKKOR 48/2.8 Japanese Common Name “梅鉢”(Umebachi)
梅=plum (Resembles Japanese plum flower)
ja.wikipedia.org
鉢=bowl or pot
The real plum bowl without the lever is the most valuable.

(с) T Rokkor Miura


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