Review: Minolta MC Rokkor-PF 58 mm f/1.4 (MC-II)


The MC Rokkor-PF 58 mm f/1.4 is the faster equivalent to Minoltas 55 mm f/1.8 and f/1.7 standard primes from the 60’s. It has been produced in four versions from which this one (MC-II) is believed to be the best. You can identify it by the wave in the serrated part of the focusing ring – the older versions have a serrated but perfectly round grip. The optical construction of this lens with 6 elements in 5 groups is simpler than that of the superior MC Rokkor-PG 58 mm f/1.2 and the later MC Rokkor-PG 50 mm f/1.4, where Minolta used a 7 element design.

The lens is compact, excellently built and slightly lighter than an MC 50 mm f/1.4. The focus on my copy is slightly scratchy and uneven, but handling on a NEX-5T is still excellent. The effective focal length of 88 mm on APS-C cameras and the characteristic glow wide open render the MC f/1.4 the perfect portrait lens for crop factor cameras.

For further details on the lens like weight and dimensions, have a look at its entry in the Minolta SR mount lens database.

 

Condition of my copy

Optics: Very good. Only slight marks in the coating from cleaning and a small amount of fine dust inside.

Mechanics: Acceptable. Uneven and slightly scratchy focus with high resistance, aperture clean and fast.

Exterior: Good. Some scratches in the finishing, small marks on the edges.

 

Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T

The lens is soft, shows haze and very little contrast at f/1.4. Stopping down to f/2 bumps contrast by what feels like 1,000,000% and reduces the haze to an acceptable level. Resolution and sharpness do not increase, yet. The latter show visible gain starting at f/2.8, when the haze fully disappears. The center reaches good sharpness now, with the corners staying behind a little. Stopping down to f/4 increases sharpness to very good in the central region. At f/5.6 the rating further improves to excellent and performance is very nice across the entire frame. f/8 looks a tiny notch softer again in the center, but is hard to tell apart from f/5.6. Diffraction starts at f/11 and becomes prominent at f/16.

A minimal magenta glow is visible at f/1.4 and f/2 in the corners. From f/2.8 on, the lens shows practically no lateral CA – it’s hard to spot even at 200% magnification. An outstanding performance for an achromatic lens.

Vignetting is about 2/3 of a stop at f/1.4 and disappears by f/2. The lens also exhibits negligible barrel distortion of -0.2%. The effective T-stop at f/1.4 is approximately T1.6 (-0.4 EV), which is okay.

Compared to the MC Rokkor-PG 50 mm f/1.4, the MC Rokkor-PF 58 mm f/1.4 has a different characteristic. It’s not resolving that good wide open, shows considerably lower contrast and slightly softer corners. Critical sharpness is lacking up to f/4 – about one stop worse than the 50 mm. This increases the soft, vintage look of images shot at such apertures, which may be desired. It’s very flattering for soft portraits and dreamy images at sunrise. The better all-round lenses, however, are without a doubt the later MC and MD 50 mm f/1.4. When compared to it’s larger brother, the MC Rokkor-PG 58 mm f/1.2, the 58 mm f/1.4 holds up well: While the corners are a tiny bit worse, central sharpness is even ahead of the faster f/1.2 up to f/2.8. After that, both lenses are about equal in terms of crispness, but the f/1.4 shows less chromatic aberration. Not bad for a fifth of the price!

 

Test charts

The following images are pixel-level crops from the test chart. They may appear scaled in your browser window. Click on them to view the crops in full size and cycle through them easily. For more info on the test setup, visit the details page.

 

Overview

Test chart overview

(Cropped areas marked in orange)

 

f/1.4

MC Rokkor-PF 58 mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

 

f/2.0

MC Rokkor-PF 58 mm f/1.4 @ f/2.0

 

f/2.8

MC Rokkor-PF 58 mm f/1.4 @ f/2.8

 

f/4.0

MC Rokkor-PF 58 mm f/1.4 @ f/4.0

 

f/5.6

MC Rokkor-PF 58 mm f/1.4 @ f/5.6

 

f/8.0

MC Rokkor-PF 58 mm f/1.4 @ f/8.0

 

f/11

MC Rokkor-PF 58 mm f/1.4 @ f/11

 

f/16

MC Rokkor-PF 58 mm f/1.4 @ f/16

 


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