Review: Minolta MC W.Rokkor-HG 35 mm f/2.8 (MC-X)


The MC W.Rokkor-HG 35 mm f/2.8 with 7 lens elements in 6 groups is a standard Minolta wide angle lens from the 60’s. There are MC non-X versions of this lens with full metal body and identical optics and there are MC-X and MD versions with simpler optics (5/5) and superior performance. The latter can be identified by a much smaller front element.

The MC 35 mm f/2.8 is a solid and relatively compact and light lens which offers that typical buttery smooth focus  common to most Minolta MC lenses. Handling on a NEX-5T is effortless. The effective focal length of 53 mm on APS-C cameras makes the MC 35 mm f/2.8 a handy normal lens with good overall performance and some weaknesses wide open.

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: Good. Slight scratches in the coating due to cleaning. A handful of lonely dust particles inside and what seems to be some ultra fine droplets of oil.

Mechanics: Satisfactory. Uniform and smooth but very easy focus, oily but working aperture. The latter seems to be a common problem of the W.Rokkor-HG, which is rare for a Minolta lens.

Exterior: Very good. Slight scratches in the finishing here and there.

 

Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T

The lens starts a little soft at f/2.8 with medium haze and mushy corners. Resolution actually isn’t bad. At f/4, the haze clears in the center but still affects the corners. Central sharpness improves to medium to good values. Stopping down to f/5.6 finally clears up the corners which are now passable, while the center reaches close to very good sharpness. Performance becomes even across the image at f/8 with the center being very lightly affected by diffraction. The latter is slightly more pronounced at f/11 and visibly softens f/16.

CAs are not apparent at f/2.8 due to the haze. A slight red and dark cyan glow becomes visible at f/4 and transforms into very small red/cyan CAs at f/5.6. The aberrations stay constant when stopping down. Overall, a very good performance for a wide angle lens.

Vignetting is about 1 a stop at f/2.8, shrinks to 1/3 of a stop at f/4 and is gone by f/5.6. The lens also exhibits a small barrel distortion of -0.3%. The effective T-stop at f/2.8 is T3.2 (-0.4 EV), which isn’t impressive.

The MC 35 mm f/2.8 shows the typical weaknesses of vintage wide angles: Soft corners and uncorrected longitudinal CAs leading to a visible glow at large apertures. But stopped down to f/5.6, it compares favorably to a modern kit lens like the Sony SELP1650. Especially in terms of sharpness and resolution, the MC f/2.8 delivers pretty much the same performance as Sony’s compact zoom, which – to be fair – is already wide open at f/5.6. If you want more, you should look for the MD-II version of the 35 mm f/2.8, or go for the MC W.Rokkor-HH 35 mm f/1.8. The f/1.8  really destroys it’s competitors in terms of sharpness and corner performance, but shows visibly more CAs and is rather large and heavy for a 35 mm.

 

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/2.8

MC Rokkor-HG 35 mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8

 

f/4.0

MC Rokkor-HG 35 mm f/2.8 @ f/4.0

 

f/5.6

MC Rokkor-HG 35 mm f/2.8 @ f/5.6

 

f/8.0

MC Rokkor-HG 35 mm f/2.8 @ f/8.0

 

f/11

MC Rokkor-HG 35 mm f/2.8 @ f/11

 

f/16

MC Rokkor-HG 35 mm f/2.8 @ f/16

 

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