Minolta MC Rokkor QF 50mm 1:3.5 Macro – MC II – review

Published by Tony on

Minolta MC Rokkor QF 50mm 1:3.5 Macro vintage manual lens review (Minolta MC Macro Rokkor-QF 1:3.5 f=50mm)

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

I like vintage lenses that can be used in today’s times regardless of age. This macro-fifty is one of that type – independently of the year of production, it makes ‘macro’ or ‘object’ photos like any other macro lenses even modern. No, I’m not going to say that this lens is a resolution monster or opponents killer, no, it’s just an instrument that is able to cover 95% of the photographer’s “50mm focal distance macro tasks” with the same result as super-duper another lenses.

By chance, I’ve got two copies for the review. The first was with a nice set (no box and papers, but full up to case), sadly this copy has noticeable scratches on the front lens. The second copy was in less set – just a 1×1 macro adapter and reverse-adapter. After the ‘lens-romantic’ comparison I realized that the first copy is slightly better independently of the scratched front lens, that’s why optical performance tests are based on copy #1.

A little explain for readers, who aren’t familiar with a macro-gear

  • Macro extension tube aka Macro 1×1 adapter aka macro 1×1 converter aka 1×1 macro-ring, etc. Briefly: 1×1 macro means that if you have a coin with a 10mm diameter than the projection of this coin will be 10mm on the sensor of your camera. 1×2 macro means that image of 10mm real coin will take just 5mm on the sensor etc. Another example: microscopes are optical systems with codings like 2×1 because projections are bigger than real items. So, without any additional options, this Macro Rokkor can provide 1×2 macro, but with the attached extender – the ‘true’ 1×1. If you are going to take photos of an object with a size less than 24x36mm (35mm format) – you may need the tube. If an object is bigger – no need to attach it. Of course, such a description is a simplification but can help at first steps.
  • Macro reverse ring. Many lenses, installed backward, turn into a macro. This ring has a 55mm thread to screw it on the front of a lens like a filter, and Minolta-SR mount bracing on the opposite side. The ring works for any possible lenses with 55mm filter thread.

Minolta MC Rokkor QF 50mm 1:3.5 Macro + Minolta SRT-101

Minolta MC Rokkor QF 50mm 1:3.5 Macro specifications:

minolta.eazypix.de index107
Name engraved on the lensMC MACRO ROKKOR-QF
f50
A max3.5
A min22
Elements6
Groups4
Filter thread55
Lens Shade
close0.23/0.9
Dimension68×55
Weight330
Year1967
StyleMC II
Code No.630-028

More data

Floating elementsNO
Aperture blades number6
Confidence in the test results of reviewed copiesHigh
Reviewed Lens SN:1501435

Minolta MC Rokkor QF 50mm 1:3.5 Macro – historical notes

The lens got a ‘knurled’ or ‘hills&valley’ exterior – this is named so because of deep grooves on the ring of sharpness. This lens has one direct predecessor – Minolta Macro Rokkor QF 50mm 1:3.5 (from 1961) – ‘SR’ by collectors classification, so, unlike of previously reviewed Minolta MC Macro 100mm 1:3.5 (from 1972) this older (from 1967) 50mm Macro can’t be called as the first in a row.

One note by Andrea Aprà (c):

There are some Minolta lenses that although apparently have the same aesthetic characteristics and the same dimensions, have been produced with different serials.
Serials have 7 digits and generally (there is no precise rule and therefore there are exceptions) the first two (sometimes 3) digits identify the group of serials, the other 5 are an incremental counter of the pieces produced.
This 50 mm macro was produced with serial numbers:
– 111xxxx
– 15xxxxx
– 25xxxxx
These are disjoint numbers, that is, the observed pieces are much less than those needed to connect the groups continuously (that is, no 12xxxxx or 13 or 14 or 16 or … 24 serial were ever seen).
It is impossible to know exactly why this production was segmented into 3 large groups. Perhaps for production reasons a change of manufacturing methodology has been made making it better or cheaper, or a supplier of some part has changed or something not very visible has been changed in the optical scheme while maintaining the same global structure or the coating or … We don’t know.

The first one (sn.1501435) is heavier for 2 grams than the second (sn.2503371). Not worth to speak.

Minolta MC Rokkor QF 50mm 1:3.5 Macro lens exterior:

Reviewed copy sn.1501435:

Minolta MC Rokkor QF 50mm 1:3.5 Macro accessories

Exterior of Copy #2 – sn.2503371

Minolta MC Rokkor QF 50mm 1:3.5 Macro mounted on the camera Minolta SR-T101

The combination is very authentic – lens and camera were in production in the same period of time

Minolta MC Rokkor QF 50mm 1:3.5 Macro 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 QF 50mm 1:3.5 Macro aberrations

Vignetting

Geometric distortion

Coma aberrations

Chromatic aberrations

Long-distance bokeh

Test#1

Test conditions: the lens was focused on 0.23m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance

Test#2

Test conditions: lens was focused on 2m

Light bubbles bokeh – infinity

Test #1

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 0.23m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Note: that lines on the light-bubbles are the result of scratches on the front lens. (For those who know: yes, it looks close to another type of lines provided by separation of clued elements but it is not about this lens)

Test #2

Test conditions: lens was focused on 2m

Other resources with reviews

Minolta MC Rokkor QF 50mm 1:3.5 Macro final conclusion

Advantages

The first standard advantage of ‘knurled’ Minoltas – glass and metal only, no plastic or rubber. The second advantage – not so heavy as it can be expected with such a design. The third advantage – there is no optical weakness on closed apertures.

Disadvantages

only one – it has issues with sharpness if wide open. Absolutely not critical for the macro lens but it should be mentioned because modern macro lenses work good on fully opened apertures and amateurs are using that as universal tools – macro, portraits, interiors, anything… So, this Minolta can be used in such universal mode too, just need to remember about less of sharpness on F3.5.

Other

One other important goodie: true 1×1 macro is available with the original adapter.

The lens isn’t rare, it can be the convenient and cheap solution if a photographer needs to get a good macro for occasional sessions without big efforts and prices – auto-focus isn’t a must-have option for macro.

As a result

The nice macro-lens with a metal feeling in hands and ready for most of the photographer tasks are linked with 50mm macro distances. Even from the modern point of view.


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