Review: Minolta MC Rokkor-PG 58 mm f/1.2 (MC-X)


The MC Rokkor-PG 58 mm f/1.2 was Minolta’s top-of-the line normal lens from the late 60’s until the introduction of the MD 50 mm f/1.2 in 1978. It features 7 lenses in 5 groups and can be regarded as the “larger brother” of the MC Rokkor-PF 58 mm f/1.4 (6/5). The later 50 mm f/1.4 MC Rokkor-PG features the same optical scheme (7/5). Today, the 58 mm f/1.2 is probably the most highly regarded Minolta SR lens ever built and continuously fetches very high prices on the used market. It is notorious for its excellent bokeh and superior sharpness.

Most MC lenses made by Minolta feature excellent build quality, smooth focusing and that certain, satisfying feel when focusing – and the 58 mm f/1.2 is no exception. At approximately 480 g, it is quite heavy for a normal lens. Handling on a NEX-5T is good, but a bit front-heavy. Even compared to other excellent Minolta lenses, focusing is extremely precise and on my copy, there is just no amount of play or wobble in the mechanics whatsoever – even after 40 years of use. The effective field of view of 89 mm on APS-C cameras combined with the f/1.2 aperture renders this lens the perfect short portrait tele.

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 tiniest amount of dust in the lens.

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

Exterior: Very good. Minimal marks on the mount, otherwise like new.

 

Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T

The lens is rather soft, hazy and shows low to medium contrast wide open, but a very even performance across the frame. The haze nearly clears by f/2, which also boosts contrast. Sharpness improves, too, but is still only acceptable. It reaches good levels at f/2.8, but now the corners are slightly behind. Stopping down further, sharpness becomes very good at f/4 and excellent at f/5.6. From f/4 onwards, the performance is consistent across the frame again. Diffraction becomes evident at 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. The corner shots at f/1.2 show that field curvature is present, but barely noticeable on this lens

A tiny red and cyan outline is visible from f/2.8 and transforms into sharp but very, very small CAs by f/4. An excellent performance for such a fast, achromatic lens.

Vignetting is surprisingly low with only 2/3 of a stop at f/1.2 and is gone by f/2. The lens exhibits a light to medium amount of barrel distortion (-0.6%). The effective T-stop at f/1.2 is approximately T1.6 (-0.8 EV), which is a little disappointing. This, however, is not primarily the fault of the lens, as DxOMark has proven. It seems to be related to the problem that digital sensors register less light the further the incident angle of the light diverges from 90°. And the higher the f-stop, the higher the fraction of light that reaches the sensor at smaller angles. If you read the DxOMark investigation, keep in mind that the pixel pitch of the NEX-5T and 5N is 4.76 µm, close to the α7R’s 4.86 µm.

In conclusion, the MC 58 mm f/1.2 is a slightly overweight bokeh monster with pleasing optical characteristics. It’s not razor sharp until f/4, but that might even be an advantage in certain use cases. Overall, sharpness is behind the excruciatingly crisp MC Rokkor-PG 50 mm f/1.4 up to f/4 and about on par with the MD Rokkor 50 mm f/1.2. The latter seems to have slightly higher contrast wide open. Compared to both of these lenses, the 58 mm f/1.2 shows significantly less lateral chromatic aberration (CA) and is mechanically superior – not by much, maybe, but you can feel it. One of the main downsides of the 50 mm f/1.2 – heavy longitudinal CA, sometimes termed bokeh fringing or color bokeh – is also almost unbeknown to the 58 mm. This is especially nice, since those CAs can be hard to correct in post processing, depending on the surrounding colors. Overall, this is one monster of a lens which certainly deserves its reputation.

 

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/1.2

MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/1.2

 

f/2.0

MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/2.0

 

f/2.8

MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/2.8

 

f/4.0

MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/4.0

 

f/5.6

MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/5.6

 

f/8.0

MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/8.0

 

f/11

MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/11

 

f/16

MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/16

 

Field curvature at f/1.2

Field curvature: MC-X 58 mm f/1.2 @ f/

 

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