The MD Rokkor 50 mm f/1.4 with 55 mm filter thread is the direct successor of the MC Rokkor-PG 50 mm f/1.4. It uses a new optical formula, is smaller and has very different image characteristics. It is generally considered the third best Minolta standard lens after the 50 mm f/1.4 and 58 f/1.2 MC Rokkor-PG.
The lens is pleasantly light, focus is smooth but not buttery and handling on a NEX-5T is excellent. Optical qualities wide open and the effective focal length of 76 mm on APS-C cameras make this a flattering portrait lens.
For the MD Rokkor 50 mm f/1.4 I’ve created lens correction profiles, which are available for download. 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 the slightest scratches in the coating due to cleaning. A handful of lonely dust particles inside.
Mechanics: Good. Uniform but slightly sticky focus, aperture clean and fast.
Exterior: Good. Slight scratches in the finishing here and there.
Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T
Update (14.03.2015): Test shots repeated with a little more love put into focusing at f/1.4 and f/2. The lens now performs slightly better wide open.
The lens is slightly hazy and soft at f/1.4 with acceptable contrast. The haze still affects the corners at f/2, but contrast in the center is improved. Sharpness and corner performance increase radically at f/2.8 with the haze disappearing. The center reaches good sharpness, now. The latter increases to very good at f/4 and excellent from f/5.6 to f/8 with consistent performance across the whole image. Diffraction starts at f/11 and softens up the image at f/16.
A slight red and very dark cyan glow is visible at f/1.4 and f/2 in haze-affected areas. f/2.8 shows some very small color fringes. Starting at f/4, the lens is practically free of CAs, which are hardly visible even at 200% magnification. An outstanding performance for an achromatic lens.
Vignetting is about 2/3 of a stop at f/1.4, improves nicely at f/2 and is gone by f/2.8. The lens also exhibits a slight barrel distortion of -0.7%. The effective T-stop at f/1.4 is approximately T1.6 (-0.4 EV), which is okay.
In a contest with the MC Rokkor-PG 50 mm f/1.4 there is no clear winner. The MD shows slightly more haze in the corners up to f/2 but higher contrast in the center. The MC features a slightly higher sharpness at these apertures. From f/2.8 on, both lenses are very, very close in terms of resolution & sharpness and probably indistinguishable at f/4 to f/16. But the MD has the advantage of showing less CAs. In conclusion, the MD Rokkor 50 mm f/1.4 is an excellent allround performer, whilst the MC Rokkor-PG is your specialist for wide-open apertures. If you’re looking for more dreamy, “retro”-like shots, have a look at the MC Rokkor-PF 58 mm f/1.4.
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.
(Cropped areas marked in orange)