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Review: Chiyoko Tele Rokkor 135mm f:4.0 Minolta

Lens review: Chiyoko Tele Rokkor 1:4 f=13.5cm (c). (LTM, Leica Thread Mount, or LSM, Leica Screw Mount, or M39)

This lens is from the list of four very first lenses released by Minolta for 35mm standard film. Just 4 years after the end of WWII. We can say that this lens is a museum exhibit, but nevertheless, nothing prevents photographers from using it. I even think that if these lenses were alive, then they would really like to participate in photographing despite their age.


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.

MSR13540__739ext_logo

Chiyoko Tele Rokkor 135mm f:4.0 (Minolta) parameters:

Name engraved on lens Chiyoko TELE ROKKOR
f[mm] 135
A max [1/f] 4.0
A min[1/f] 32
Lens design [el.] 4
Lens design [gr.] 3
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm] 40
Lens Shade
closefocus[m/ft] 2.4/8
Dimension Ø x length [mm] 50/97-105
Weight[g] 435gr
Year 1949-1953
Style Chiyoko
Notes red (c) on the front ring means “coated”

Floating elements NO
Aperture blades number 10
Average international price (sold items) 2019: USD 150 – 200
Reviewed Lens SN: 3157

Excluding prototypes, this model has three generations:

  1. The earliest – started in 1949, with a rim near the screw mount which has a dull chrome. Very rare because of a small amount of production. The collector’s dream as it seems to me. The main difference from the next lines: close-focus is 2.0m/6.5ft. Serial numbers contain 4 digits.
  2. The second – continued in 1949. Rim’s material is changed to shiny chrome and close-focus becomes 2.5m/8.0ft. Serial numbers contain 4 digits. Absolutely not a rare item, from a collector’s view of course. The reviewed copy is definitely from the second generation. Readers know that I love all sorts of catchy features, so it looks like this lens has the earliest known serial number for the second generation. At least at the time of this writing, correct me please if this is not true.
  3. The third – started in 1953. The lens got a new shape with slightly changed dimensions and labels and a larger diaphragm ring. Serials of this generation contain seven digits. By rarity, I would put it between the first and second generations.

LensQAWorks-site can be proud – all four lenses from Minolta-35 initial period were reviewed:

And a few of LTM Minolta later models:


OPTICAL DESIGN


Lens exterior:

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

Viewfinder:

Some elements of the set:

On camera Minolta-35 model B. Very authentic set – the camera and lens could be purchased at the same time.


Sharpness – close distance:

Test description: target is a 10×15 cm picture (printed, glossy photo paper), fixed on the wall by scotch. Distance – 3.5m. 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)

Tamaki Kotatsu_2print

Scene preview:

MSR13540__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

Test results:

MSR13540__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-100. 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:

MSR13540__e_far_preview.jpg

(note for perfectionists: do not pay attention to the slope of the horizon, it was necessary to bind the image to certain points)

Test results:

MSR13540__e_res_far.jpg


Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MSR13540__f_vignettingNEW


Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MSR13540_geometry__492


Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MSR13540__h_coma_aberr_.jpg


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MSR13540__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


Long-distance bokeh:

Test#1:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 2.5m, 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)

MSR13540__k_bokeh_far_min_2_5m_NEW.png

Test#2:

Test conditions: lens was focused on 4.5m – ‘portrait distance’, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MSR13540__k_bokeh_far_mid_4_5m_NEW.png


Light dots long-distance bokeh:

Test #1

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 2.5m, 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)

MSR13540__m_dots_far_min_2_5m_NEW.png

Test #2

Test conditions: lens was focused on 4.5m – ‘portrait distance’, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MSR13540__m_dots_far_mid_4_5m_NEW.png


Chiyoko Tele Rokkor 1:4 f=13.5cm (c) (Minolta):

AvatarReview_MSR13540

The lens showed not very good results in tests. Not enough sharpness at any distance. Other types of distortion are also noticeable, even the geometry has a visible “pillow”. Although chromatic distortion and coma are lower than usual.

As usual, a large number of aberrations make a beautiful bokeh. As a result, we see the lens which can shoot interesting portraits in a vintage style, but, unfortunately, with some restrictions on the location of the subject due to the sharpness and the minimum focus distance.

Yes, lenses from that era can’t be recommended for photographers – the lack of IQ, inconvenient construction, weight, thread-mount, etc. But if you want to touch history, then this is exactly what is required. And remember, these lenses will be very happy if you take photos with them at least sometimes.


 

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