Minolta MC Rokkor NL 21mm 1:2.8 W – MC II – review

Published by Tony on

Minolta MC Rokkor SI 21mm 1:2.8 W vintage manual lens review (Minolta MC W Rokkor-NL 1:2.8 f=21mm)

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

It’s just my personal opinion but this 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.

Minolta MC Rokkor NL 21mm 1:2.8 + SRT 101

Minolta MC Rokkor NL 21mm 1:2.8 specifications

# in minolta.eazypix.de index22
Name engraved on lensMC 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 Shadeclamp-on
closefocus[m/ft]0.25/1
Dimension Ø x length [mm]75×67
Weight[g]510
Year1971
StyleMC II
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No.609

More data

Floating elementsYES
Aperture blades number6
Confidence in the test results of reviewed copiesHigh
Reviewed Lens SN:1502057

Historical note

This optical design looks fantastic even if we forget 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.

Minolta MC Rokkor NL 21mm 1:2.8 lens exterior

Minolta MC Rokkor NL 21mm 1:2.8 lens shade

The lens’s 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.

Minolta MC Rokkor NL 21mm 1:2.8 mounted on camera Minolta SRT-101

Minolta MC Rokkor NL 21mm 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 NL 21mm 1:2.8 aberrations

Vignetting

Geometric distortion

Coma aberrations

Chromatic aberrations

Long-distance bokeh

Test#1

Test conditions: the lens was focused on 0.25m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance

Light bubbles bokeh – infinity

Test #1

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 0.25m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Test #2

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

Minolta MC Rokkor NL 21mm 1:2.8 final conclusion

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 “Rokkor”s. 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 lens. One of the coolest lenses from MC generation, strongly recommends 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

4 Comments

Howie Dewing · 2021-02-06 at 02:00

My waffle grip MC-X version vignettes like crazy at f/2.8 to the point where it’s like looking through cupped hands, so I tend to use it at f/5.6 and smaller. I still love it, and recently got a full frame mirrorless camera (Sony a7 II if you must know) to really show it off, although the lens mount converter I got for it already broke after just 3 days. GRRR!. Also, the lens’ aperture ring was just a bit loose when I got it, a bit unusual as Minolta is famous for that tight ratchet-like action, but it’s a keeper nonetheless. Someone obviously used and loved this old lens a lot. Thank you for all of the work you have done with your extensive testing. Your recommendations have enabled me to get some wonderful vintage Minolta glass I might never have known about otherwise. HNulse

    Tony · 2021-02-08 at 12:26

    Thank you for the feedback. And I agree about the vignetting, but – there are not many reasons to use so wide a lens with an opened aperture, and this lack can be acceptable. The lens is great

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