Minolta MC Rokkor PF 58mm 1:1.4 – MC II – review

Published by Tony on

Minolta MC Rokkor PF 58mm 1:1.4 vintage manual lens review (Minolta MC Tele Rokkor-PF 1:1.4 f=58mm)

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

This is the well known, enough cheap, and very popular ‘near fifty’ lens, which can be an easy find in auctions or flea-markets around the whole world. I’ve read a lot of different opinions from skeptical to over-positive and this review is another one try to sort out with this lens.

Minolta MC Rokkor PF 58mm 1:1.4 + Minolta SRT-101

Minolta MC Rokkor PF 58mm 1:1.4 specifications:

minolta.eazypix.de index135
Name engraved on lensMC ROKKOR-PF
f[mm]58
A max [1/f]1.4
A min[1/f]16
Lens design [el.]6
Lens design [gr.]5
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm]55
Lens ShadeD55NA
closefocus[m/ft]0.6/2
Dimension Ø x length [mm]65×41
Weight[g]275
Year1969
StyleMC II
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No.639
Notesrevised optical construction

More data

Floating elementsNO
Aperture blades number6
Confidence in the test results of reviewed copiesVery High
Reviewed lens SN:5511719

Two copies have been used for this review. At first, I’ve bought cheap one sn.5721556 with the oiled diaphragm (15 mins for cleaning) but later was lucky to get the truly boxed kit of Minolta SRT-101 and lens sn.5511719 – I even published the dedicated article about that ‘incident’. ‘Lens-Romantic’ test showed that the behavior of these copies are similar, so I decided to review the second one – boxed copy.

Historical note

Opposite to other lenses from the ‘Hills&Valleys’ generation which is often were the first in the product lines of Minolta lenses this MC PF 58mm F1.4 is the last version in the row with three predecessors (58/1.4 AR-II, AR-C, MC-I by collectors classification). Later Minolta stopped to produce 58mm lenses and switched to 50mm only.

That was the period of experiments, and lenses have changes in design during the production period. Advanced collectors say about dozens of inventions, my two copies also not similar and it can be seen without disassembling. Does it mean that the optical performance of different copies is noticeable? These two sn5511719 and sn5721556 works like twins. What about the earliest and latest models – I don’t know.

“If you want to know how many optical versions there are… 1.Early AR-II, SNs: 11xxxxx, 2,Late AR-II, SNs: 12xxxxx and 20xxxxx, 3.AR-C, 4.MC-I and 5.MC-II. The difference between MC-I and MC-II is extremely slight. I think it has more to do with the glass used than with physical dimensions, although the rear element is slightly thinner in the MC-II version. Someday I will get my detailed analysis of the version ready for publishing.”

Maury Jacks

Minolta MC Rokkor PF 58mm 1:1.4 lens exterior:

Minolta MC Rokkor PF 58mm 1:1.4 mounted on Minolta SR-T 101 camera. Both camera and lens, are from one kit:

Minolta MC Rokkor PF 58mm 1:1.4 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 PF 58mm 1:1.4 aberrations

Vignetting

Geometric distortion

Coma aberrations

Chromatic aberrations

Long-distance bokeh

Test#1

Test conditions: the lens was focused on 0.45m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance

Test#2

Test conditions: lens was focused on 2m

Light bubbles bokeh

Test #1

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 0.45m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Test #2

Test conditions: lens was focused on 2m

Other resources with reviews:

Minolta MC Rokkor PF 58mm 1:1.4 final conclusion

Everything depends on the photographer’s taste and camera, but from my point of view, it needs to avoid a wide-open aperture. The next F2 can be OK for some portraits, but better to start from F2.8. The good news is that from F5.6 it is ready for any tasks including landscapes, not a bad result by the way, even for some modern fifties.

“One day I shot portraits of a girl with this lens on a7rII. Initially I used f2 and when I took a shot and checked the result, I found the lens was too sharp for the girl’s not so good skin condition so I immediately changed to f1.4 and got very good result. I just love these vintage lenses because you buy and carry only one lens but get the results of two lenses, unlike those expensive modern lenses so called designed for digital imaging that are stupidly sharp even wide open, honestly showing each every tiny hill and valley on girls’ faces.”

Feng Xu

I don’t see other disadvantages except the softness F1.4-2.0, so, let’s turn to powerful sides. Great rendering is in the first place. Bubbles of light with contrast borders over the smooth background can impress anyone. Historically, this lens stays in the shadow of bokeh-monster Minolta MC 58/1.2, but it seems wrong for me – both lenses are absolutely different by rendering, and both can be recommended for portraiture or art-of-bokeh styles… Strongly recommend.

The other side of the beautiful bokeh is a stack of aberrations and here I can see the usual case for Minolta lenses – the level of aberrations is not so big as it can be expected for the lens with such rendering abilities. Even a softness on the wide-open aperture can be partly fixed with just a simple contrast slider in the RAW-editors.

Other standard goodies that belong to most of Hills&Valleys Minolta lenses: steel&glass design for the fans of the feeling of heavy metal, it can be fully disassembled, fixed, cleaned and reassembled with a kitchen knife.

And about the focal distance: 58mm is a nice for portraiture. Not for a “full face” of course but for “half-body” at least. Anyway, it is a little bit more preferable than 50mm.

After getting of test results, I don’t realize the one: why the prices of this lens are so low on auctions? Let me add it to the list of the most underrated lenses. It has a nice design and feels, low aberrations, enough good sharpness, stunning bokeh, portraiture-ready but not too long focal distance. In other words – the absolutely universal near-fifty lens with a nice IQ. Grab it if you meet it – it’s a good chance to get a favorite tool in a photographer bag.

Battles with this lens:


2 Comments

David Jenkins · 2019-09-28 at 22:31

Another awesome review, I love this website, thanks for all this hard work! I agree with your review, this lens and the 58mm 1.2 are very different in rendering. It has such a distinct look and with so many aberrations, it’s very unique but I could never get used to it. I’ve found that the 55mm 1.7 (MC-II hill-valley) better compares to the 58mm 1.2 in terms of rendering, a proper “little sister” or a “poor mans 58mm 1.2”.

    Tony · 2019-09-29 at 13:56

    Thank you. Next reviews about near-fifties Rokkors 55/1.7 and 55/1.9 are in the queue

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