Minolta MC Rokkor PG 58mm 1:1.2 – MC II – review

Published by Tony on

Minolta MC Rokkor PG 58mm 1:1.2 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 lens has “The legend” status, it’s well known and demanded by collectors or photographers. The popularity is happened because of the fact that Minolta MC PG 58mm 1/1.2 is on the top in the list of ‘bokeh monsters for a whole human history of photography’. Even, maybe, it is Number One Monster by popularity. If a photographer thinks about bokeh rendering, cares about the “3D effect” on photos, and looking for the best bokeh-tool ever – then this lens should be in a photographer’s bag.

Minolta MC Rokkor PG 58mm 1:1.2 + Minolta SRT-101

Minolta MC Rokkor PG 58mm 1:1.2 specifications:

minolta.eazypix.de index130
Name engraved on the lensMC ROKKOR-PG
f58
A max1.2
A min16
Elements7
Groups5
Filter thread55
Lens ShadeD55NC
close0.6/2
Dimension69×54
Weight455
Year1970
StyleMC II
Code No.633

More data


Floating elementsNO
Aperture blades number8
Confidence in the test results of reviewed copiesHigh
Reviewed Lens SN:2571424

Historical notes

My copy has s/n 2571424. It’s MC-II version, or the second of totally three versions available (a simplified approach – to avoid the digging into different marks and colors of marks):

  • #1 – full metal but not “Hills&Valleys/Knurled”
  • #2 – full metal “Hills&Valleys/Knurled”
  • #3 – rubberized

All three versions look optically identical. Strictly speaking, it isn’t true for 100% because that was a period of permanent experiments and updates of production Minolta lenses,  this fact matters most for collectors, I’m not sure that photographers have a chance to feel the difference. But differences in body design can be seen easily.

I’m grateful to professional Minolta collectors for the information about a more accurate range of serial numbers of non-radioactive samples than the one that was known on the internet so far. Instead of “something around 256x” the range which is starting from ‘2568164’ is at least exactly non-radioactive. But the risk is still possible with serials close to this number because some parts may be mixed during production. On the other hand: there is no need to overestimate the danger of radioactive lenses. Especially from Minolta – even the first generation of these Rokkor-PG lenses have a fairly low level of radiations. Try to find more details about radioactive lenses if you are afraid, most of them can’t hurt you, if to follow some simple rules.

BTW: The yellowed coating of radioactive copies can be easily corrected by sunlight or even some LED lamps.


Minolta MC Rokkor PG 58mm 1:1.2 lens exterior

Minolta MC Rokkor PG 58mm 1:1.2 mounted on Minolta SR-T 101 camera. This set is authentic, both camera and lens were in production in the same period of time:


Minolta MC Rokkor PG 58mm 1:1.2 lens shade

The original lens shade is coded as D55NC, also the later version has existed – without code but with simple text on a side “MC 58mm F 1.2” – very suitable for MC-II generation:


A bit more about shades for Minolta MC Rokkor PG 58mm 1:1.2

This is not suitable but popular lens shade – Minolta D57KB which is authentic for Minolta Auto Rokkor-PF 55mm F1.8 and Auto Rokkor-PF 58mm F1.4 – it works enough good, and photographers often recommend it because of convenient attaching:

Attention: this lens-shade gives a slight vignetting at corners on opened apertures. Thanks to Jan Koning for that notice and for the scheme with proof:

BTW: Jan is also the owner of the first noted non-radioactive copy, which was mentioned above

One more note: many companies called such devices as “Lens Hood” (wiki), but Minolta is from a team that prefers “Lens Shade”.


Minolta MC Rokkor PG 58mm 1:1.2 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


Minolta MC Rokkor PG 58mm 1:1.2 sharpness over the whole frame

Сlose-distance resolution test

Testing methods description

  • Target: 10-15 cm picture, printed on glossy photo paper
  • Distance:10% longer than minimal focus distance marked on the lens
  • 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

Scene preview

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

Test results (selected version, easy to compare – 4 positions)

Test results (full version – all 9 positions)


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 58mm 1:1.2 aberrations

Vignetting


Geometric distortion


Coma aberrations


Chromatic aberrations


Close distance bokeh

Test conditions: the lens is focused near the minimal distance (0.7m), plants are in the 2m distance


Long-distance bokeh

Test#1

Test conditions: the lens was focused on 0.6m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance

Test#2

Test conditions: lens was focused on 2m


Light bubbles bokeh

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance + 10% of scale (about 0.7m), diodes were fixed in 2m distance


Light bubbles bokeh – infinity

Test #1

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 0.6m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Test #2

Test conditions: lens was focused on 2m


Other resources with reviews


Minolta MC Rokkor PG 58mm 1:1.2 – final conclusion

Usually, it is difficult to maintain a personal opinion under the pressure of statements from five generations of photographers. But I haven’t collected something new or uncommon about the behavior of this Rokkor – everything looks like expected after the reading “of statements from five generations of photographers”.

Disadvantages

The lens is big, heavy, and not convenient in use. It has huge all-types aberrations on F1.2, and even more – a little softness can be seen in corners up to F8. It’s possible to say that lens is better than most of another lens with the same characteristics from the same age, but it is not very good in the distribution of sharpness over the frame – from the modern point of view.

On the other hand – the sharpness can be called amazing for the Center and Middle positions of a frame. A softness is presented of course, but the lens doesn’t have issues with displaying details even on F1.2. I don’t understand how it possible, but this is a great lens for portraiture.

As any another ‘Knurled’ Rokkor it gives the amazing feeling of Steel&Glass lens in hands and looks like a tank. But be careful – the lens has quite thin elements in the internal structure and can be damaged as a result of careless handling. I’m not going to say that construction is unreliable, it isn’t of course, because a lot of these lenses continue to work from 70′ up to today, it was just a note – MC 58/1.2 PG has more complicated construction than other Minolta fifties. Unlike for other MC-II lenses, I can’t repeat words that it can be reassembled and tuned with a kitchen knife in 10 mins (see the video above by Matt Bierner).

Advantages

All mentioned issues are payment for the possibility of taking photos with one of the most attractive art-lens in the world. MC PG 58/1.2 has the unique combination of some parameters – 58mm focal distance, huge front, and back elements, 8 aperture blades, and good enough IQ starting from F1.2 – all of this makes the lens very suitable for an objects/portraits photography. Actually, I can’t say that such bokeh is the best one – a lot of another lens are able to provide the ‘smooth and creme and bla-bla-bla’ abstract pictures on a  background, but only this lens can mix really lovely bokeh with thin DOF and with 58mm perspective, it gives a good chance to create magic photos in absolutely trivial environments.

On the other hand – this lens isn’t a good choice for common photography or for the role of universal gear – because of disadvantages mentioned above and because not all scenes need such approach: on closed apertures, this monster stops to be outstanding, and limitations come to the fore. You know the common idea about “All lenses are the same at F8”.

As a result: I think that the lens isn’t too overpriced – such possibilities are worth its market price. This is the unique lens that can make photographers happy, especially those who like thin DOF and games with bokeh. Gladly, this lens is not rare: there are a lot of copies on auctions anytime, just prices are growing more and more.



2 Comments

Pacónidas · 2019-09-04 at 22:26

Thank you very much for your very interesting review and all your work.

I was wondering if this lens could be a reasonable upgrade to the MC-II 58/1.4 you reviewed before.

The 58/1.4 is my favourite lens for portraiture at f/2 to f/3.2; and for artistic purposes i find its f/1.4 rendering really unique.

Do you think is worth to change the 58/1.4 for the 58/1.2? Its high price and weight are issues though.

All the best,

    Tony · 2019-09-04 at 23:09

    Thank you for your words, I’m glad to hear it. About the difference between Rokkor MC 58/1.2 and Rokkor MC 58/1.4 – I’m going to publish the comparison tests at the next week, but right now can say that PG 58/1.2 is much more sharper than F1.4 lens on f1.2-F4.0 diapason. Corners are the same or so, but sharpness in the middle and center is significantly better. Is it worth to upgrade from the cheaper one? – such choice is very personal

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