Review: MD W.Rokkor 24 mm f/2.8 (MD-II)


The MD W.Rokkor 24 mm f/2.8 is a high resolution, fast wide angle lens from the late 70’s. It features the same design as the earlier MC-X version: 9 lenses in 7 groups. Due to its superior optical performance, this lens was licensed by Leitz and sold under the Leica brand in a different housing. The MD-II version tested here was later followed by an MD-III or “plain MD” version with slightly simplified design (8/8) which is supposed to offer better corner sharpness.

The build quality of the lens is excellent and it feels solid and compact. Focus is smooth and handling on a NEX-5T is very pleasant. The focus throw is rather short at roughly 85°, but precise focusing is not a problem because depth of field is large. At approximately 280 g, the lens has just the right weight – not too heavy, not too light. The effective field of view of 37 mm on APS-C cameras gives you a very versatile tool for reportage style photography.

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

 

Condition of my copy

Optics: Excellent. No scratches, no fungus and only the slightest amount of dust in the lens.

Mechanics: Excellent. Uniform and very smooth focus, aperture clean and fast.

Exterior: Very good. Minimal marks on the mount and body.

 

Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T

Notice: Astigmatism (horizontal lines are rendered sharper than vertical ones) is visible in the test shots. It mainly affects the left half of the image. The top left corner, which is cropped and shown later on, is affected the most. Chromatic aberration is similarly strongest in the top left corner. This points to the fact that this copy of the lens may not be perfectly centered or aligned. Looking at the average of all four corners, I would expect that a “perfect copy” of the 24 mm performs a bit – but not worlds – better than shown below.

The lens starts out with acceptable to good center sharpness wide open, nearly no visible haze and rather soft corners. Contrast isn’t bad. The center improves at f/4, reaching very good sharpness. The corners equally improve, but stay a bit on the soft side. Their appearance is virtually constant from f/4 to f/11. Stopping down to f/5.6, the central region now shows an absolutely excellent level of sharpness. Diffraction becomes evident as early as f/8, which underlines how sharp the lens is before. Sharpness at f/11 is still good and f/16 is – as always – a bit soft. f/22 is blurred away by diffraction. The corner shots at f/2.8 show that some field curvature is present, but on a surprisingly low level.

A small red and cyan outline is visible at f/2.8, which transforms into sharp, medium-sized CAs by f/4. They grow very slightly up to f/16. Overall not impressive, but certainly a good performance for a vintage wide angle.

Vignetting is about half a stop at f/2.8 and disappears at f/4. The lens exhibits a significant amount of barrel distortion (-1.1%). The effective T-stop at f/2.8 is approximately T3.3 (-0.5 EV), which is okay.

In conclusion, the MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 is a strong contender in your lens basket when looking for a wide angle. The lens performs surprisingly well in the center even wide open and peak sharpness at f/5.6 clearly outperforms the 16 MPix sensor on my NEX-5T, which is equivalent to 36 MPix in full frame. The corner performance is not quite up to modern standards, but will do fine for most applications. And the CAs are prominent but very easy to correct in post processing. Ironically, a Vivitar (Kiron) 24 mm f/2.0 holds up well to the Minolta when only comparing image corners – it’s less contrasty and shows even heavier CA, but the corners are visibly sharper already wide open. In the central region, however, the Vivitar doesn’t stand a chance. Overall, the Minolta MD-II may not be the best vintage 24 mm overall, but it’s a very solid option with a lot of strong points and a few easy to handle weaknesses. Considering that the first version of this design was launched in 1973, it’s quite a remarkable lens.

 

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

MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8

 

f/4.0

MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 @ f/4.0

 

f/5.6

MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 @ f/5.6

 

f/8.0

MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 @ f/8.0

 

f/11

MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 @ f/11

 

f/16

MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 @ f/16

 

f/22

MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 @ f/22

 

Field curvature at f/2.8

Field curvature: MD-II 24 mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8

 


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