Minolta MC Rokkor HG 35mm 1:2.8 W – MC II – review

Published by Tony on

Minolta MC Rokkor HG 35mm 1:2.8 W vintage manual lens review (Minolta MC W Rokkor-HG 1:2.8 f=35mm)

  • Official classification: MC
  • Collector’s classification: MC II, Hills &Valleys, Knurled

This is the first lens that has been acquired after I decided to test every prime lens from Hills&Valleys generation. I have got the copy in “near mint”, or even maybe “like new” condition – almost no signs of use. My interest is enough big because one of the best ever among any other in the whole world (my most favorite too) lens is New-MD 35/2.8, and I was very curious about the IQ of the predecessor from MC-era. But something went wrong and my first “like new” copy is showed a strange result – the huge 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. This article is based on test results from the second good copy, but photos of the exterior were made with both.

Minolta MC Rokkor HG 35mm 1:2.8 + Minolta SRT-101

Minolta MC Rokkor HG 35mm 1:2.8 specifications

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

More data

Floating elements NO
Aperture blades number 6
Confidence in the test results of reviewed copies Average
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.

Minolta MC Rokkor HG 35mm 1:2.8 lens exterior

Copy #1

Minolta MC Rokkor HG 35mm 1:2.8 accessories

Minolta MC Rokkor HG 35mm 1:2.8 mounted on Minolta SR-T 101 camera

It’s a suitable set – both are from one era of design

Copy #2

Minolta MC Rokkor HG 35mm 1:2.8 sharpness

Сlose-distance resolution test, minimal distance

Testing methods description

  • Target: 10-15 cm picture, printed on glossy photo paper
  • Distance: 1.7m
  • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF.
  • The test was repeated for every F-stop on every focus position with manual focus adjustment for each shot. That is to avoid the effect of field curvature.
  • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

Original target image (printed in horizontal orientation on 10cm X 15cm glossy photo paper)

Scene preview

Test results

Long-distance resolution test

Testing methods description

  • Target: cityscape
  • Distance: > 200 meters to center focus point
  • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF. The focus point is on the center only.
  • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

Scene preview

Test results

Minolta MC Rokkor HG 35mm 1:2.8 aberrations

Vignetting

Geometric distortion

Coma aberrations

Chromatic aberrations

Long-distance bokeh

Test#1

Test conditions: the lens was focused on 0.4m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance

Test#2

Test conditions: lens was focused on 1m

Light bubbles bokeh – infinity

Test #1

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 0.4m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Test #2

Test conditions: lens was focused on 2m

Other resources with reviews

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

Minolta MC Rokkor HG 35mm 1:2.8 final conclusion

Advantages

Standard (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

Bokeh

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 the 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.

Disadvantages

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

Egor · 2019-12-11 at 17:41

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.

Anonymous · 2020-01-06 at 22:13

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.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: