Review: Minolta MD Tele Rokkor 200 mm f/4.0 (MD-I)


The MD Tele Rokkor 200 mm f/4.0 with 55 mm filter thread is the successor of the MC Tele Rokkor 200 mm f/3.5. It uses a new optical formula, is smaller and much lighter. The MD 200 mm also has the reputation of being the sharpest tele in Minoltas SR mount line-up.

The lens has a solid weight to it and features an integrated lens hood. Focus is smooth but not buttery, it is surprisingly compact and handling on a NEX-5T is pretty okay. 200 mm are somewhere near the limit of what can be shot hand-held on a NEX without getting a blurry mess. The faster f/4 aperture and slightly shorter focal length compared to the RF Rokkor 250 mm f/5.6 render the 200  mm easier to shoot under most conditions. The higher weight also reduces camera shake when shooting hand-held.

For the MD Tele Rokkor 200 mm f/4.0 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: Good. Slight scratches in the coating due to cleaning. A handful of lonely dust particles inside. Fungus settled on a lens element behind the aperture and had to be cleaned but left no marks.

Mechanics: Good. Uniform but slightly sticky focus, aperture clean and fast.

Exterior: Satisfactory. Slight scratches in the finishing. Some matte stains on the exterior with unknown cause.

 

Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T

The lens is slightly hazy at f/4 with acceptable sharpness and contrast as well as a uniform performance across the entire frame. The haze is gone at f/5.6 with sharpness and contrast improving to good levels. While micro-contrast is not overwhelming, the resolution actually is very high. At f/8 and f/11 the lens performance is very balanced with close to very good sharpness. Diffraction starts at f/16, softens up the image at f/22 and really blurs away everything at f/32.

A very light purple glow is visible at f/4 which most likely originates from minimal misfocus. Starting at f/5.6, small green and magenta CAs appear. They actually grow when stopping down, but never reach critical levels. A solid performance for a medium tele.

Vignetting is about 1/3 of a stop at f/4 and practically disappears from f/5.6 onwards. The effective T-stop at f/4 is approximately T4.6 (-0.4 EV), which is “just” okay. The lens shows a negligible amount of pincushion distortion (0.3%).

In Conclusion, the MD-I 200 mm f/4 is a carefree, compact tele lens with more than satisfying optical properties. Its only real weakness are the prominent lateral CAs which are easy to correct in postprocessing. In my opinion, it doesn’t quite live up to the reputation of being the sharpest tele in Minolta’s line-up, especially compared to competitors such as the MD-I Tele Rokkor 135 mm f/2.8. But that’s not really a demotion, considering the 135’s performance. Compared to the RF Rokkor 250 mm f/5.6, the MD Rokkor 200 mm f/4 @ f/5.6 outperforms it in most aspects including sharpness, contrast and vignetting. However, the RF destroys the 200 mm in terms of CA, because it does not show any. If you take into account that the RF is usually sold for about twenty times the price of an MD 200 f/4, you can’t go wrong with the MD.

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/4.0

MD Tele Rokkor 200 mm f/4.0 @ f/4.0

 

f/5.6

MD Tele Rokkor 200 mm f/4.0 @ f/5.6

 

f/8.0

MD Tele Rokkor 200 mm f/4.0 @ f/8.0

 

f/11

MD Tele Rokkor 200 mm f/4.0 @ f/11

 

f/16

MD Tele Rokkor 200 mm f/4.0 @ f/16

 

f/22

MD Tele Rokkor 200 mm f/4.0 @ f/22

 

f/32

MD Tele Rokkor 200 mm f/4.0 @ f/32

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