Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm 1:1.4 – review

Published by Tony on

Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm 1:1.4 – vintage manual lens test and review

This was the first 50mm F1.4 lens by Minolta, only 58mm with F1.4 was in production earlier. It has so great reputation that even younger and modern fifties sometimes hide in the shadow of this MC. You can find a lot of opinions about this lens, sometimes very objective, sometimes too personal, and the target of this review is to understand the real abilities of this piece of ‘glass and metal’ (and a few rubbers).

Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm 1:1.4 + Sony 7

Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm 1:1.4 specifications:

# in minolta.eazypix.de index 93
Name engraved on lens MC ROKKOR(-X) PG
f[mm] 50
A max [1/f] 1.4
A min[1/f] 16
Lens design [el.] 7
Lens design [gr.] 5
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm] 55
Lens Shade screw-in
closefocus[m/ft] 0.5/1.75
Dimension Ø x length [mm] 65.2×46
Weight[g] 305
Year 1973
Style MC-X
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No. 521-xxx (-300)

More data

Floating elements NO
Aperture blades number 6
Confidence in the test results of reviewed copies High
Reviewed lens SN: 3865323

Note: the tested lens has ˜ROKKOR-X” yellow labeling, it means that the lens was produced for the North American market, but there are no other differences with the same lenses without this label.

Special thanks for Maury Jacks for the optical design scheme. It was a surprise for me that even well known and trusted resources contain images with the wrong optical design of this lens. So, here you can see the correct scheme:

Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm 1:1.4 lens exterior:

Here is another copy with the box:

Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm 1:1.4 sharpness

Сlose-distance resolution test, minimal distance

Testing methods description

  • Target: 10-15 cm picture, printed on glossy photo paper
  • Distance: 0.4m
  • 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 PG 50mm 1:1.4 aberrations

Vignetting

Geometric distortion

Coma aberrations

Chromatic aberrations

Long-distance bokeh

Test#1:

Test conditions: the lens was focused on 0.5m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance

Test#2

Test conditions: the lens was focused on 1.5m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance

Light bubbles bokeh

Test #1

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 0.5m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Test#2:

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 1.5m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Other resources with reviews:

Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50mm 1:1.4 – final conclusion:

This lens has a dual life in people’s opinions. Somebody calls it the small sister of the greatest legend MC PG 58mm F1.2 – because ‘less resolution and with not so impressive bokeh, but still very good‘ (it aren’t my words). Others say that this is ‘sharpest Minolta’s fifty ever with incredible resolution and bokeh‘(it aren’t my words too). Additionally, some people don’t care about IQ and prefer this lens just because it may be easily disassembled for cleaning or fixing – some photographers are strange people, you know. The truth is in the middle – of course it isn’t the sharpest lens ever in the world, but I don’t see noticeable weakness.

The lens is worth its money at least. It looks for me that if a photographer got this lens then he/she doesn’t need to look for another better fifty. Yes, it’s possible to get the sharper lens or lens with fewer aberrations on wide-open aperture, or a lens with a better color rendition. Yes, we know that faster sister MC PG 58mm F1.2 has a more famous rendering but… I prefer to don’t use ‘better’ – just use ‘famous’. It’s because the bokeh of this MC 50/1.4 is absolutely great for any photographer task.

This lens is a bit heavier and bigger than common fifties – a good advantage for photographers who prefer tactile feeling but the lens is still quite lightweight – it’s a standard 50mm from 70′. It can be used for portraits if wide-open and ready for landscapes from F5.6, it works fine with modern digital cameras, compatible with autofocused adapters like Techart-Pro. One another important advantage – the price. As I see for today this lens still isn’t rare and not overheated on auctions – a good point to take it and make a few masterpieces.


10 Comments

p · 2018-12-18 at 15:34

In the test#2 lens was focused on 1m, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground,compare with Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.4 or Canon FDn 50mm f:1.4,all the lens is f1.4,but why so difference than any other? Is there something wrong? I just guess,please give me answer,thinks!

    Tony · 2018-12-18 at 15:45

    It’s because of different settings – test#2 has been made not on the minimal distance of focusing. Reviews for MD 50/1.4 and FDn 50/1.4 don’t contain this examples, I’ve started to make such tests in newer articles

      p · 2018-12-18 at 16:25

      Thinks for your answer, all reviews have the tests lens was focused on 1m, maybe the different lights and different weather make me feel than they are different, nice work.

PG · 2019-05-04 at 14:40

Hello,
I have one but unfortunately, the rear lens is broken.
I patiently look for another one in a poor condition but with a good rear lens to repair mine.
What is interesting in this article, is the optical scheme.
Does anybody knows if this rear lens is the same on some other objective, so I could extend my research of a donator to other lenses ?

    Tony · 2019-05-04 at 17:21

    Hi PG. By my experience with experiments of repairing MC-I and MC-II: back lens should be only from this lens model, and better from donator with close serial number. Otherwise, you are in risk to get a lack of the sharpness. But this is regarding of MC-I and MC-II, and I don’t sure in 100% that MC-X lenses are the same case, so, you can try of course. I believe that it can be better to catch cheap another copy

      PG · 2019-05-06 at 23:23

      Thank you Tony,
      That’s what I though but I just wanted the advice of some experimented person. A cheap copy can be hard to find so even if the serial is far from mine, the first I can buy will be the right one.

Rustu Erata · 2019-11-12 at 09:31

Thanks for the review.

rustuerata · 2019-11-12 at 09:32

Thanks for the review.

howiedewing · 2021-07-07 at 00:26

It was this lens, an MC Rokkor-PG 1:1.4 (sans the ‘X’), that I paired with the Minolta XE camera I recently purchased. The camera had arrived with a slightly mildewed but still wonderful H&V 135mm lens attached to it, but I decided the XE deserved to have a proper nifty fifty. The XG-M I had decades ago had a Rokkor-X 1:1.4 lens on it, one of the last with the orange lettering, so I was familiar with how amazing these lenses are. The decision to get this particular vintage lens was mostly for making the camera/lens combination period- and market region-correct, and they certainly look like they could have been paired together from birth. That it’s also one of the best 50mm lenses available made it irresistible.

    Tony · 2021-07-07 at 16:29

    Oh yes, this is a perfectly matched pair. The lens and the camera are worthy of respect

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