Review: Minolta MC Tele Rokkor 200 mm f/4.5 (MC-X)


The MC 200 mm f/4.5 is a skinny medium tele from the early seventies. The lens is the smaller cousin of the MD 200 mm f/4 and was mainly offered as a lower-priced alternative.

The 200 mm f/4.5 is solidly build, not too light at approx. 540 g and handling on a NEX-5T is okay. Typical for Minolta MC lenses, the focus is very smooth and the build quality is superb. Ironically, the lens is slightly heavier than the MD 200 mm f/4 and only a mere 2 mm shorter. Due to its design, the MC looks a bit skinnier even though the actual difference is negligible. The effective focal length of 305 mm on APS-C cameras renders this lens a compact tele with solid reach.

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 very smooth focus, aperture clean and fast.

Exterior: Very good. Minimal marks on the mount, the filter thread and the aperture ring.

 

Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T

The lens is surprisingly soft and shows a light haze wide open. Stopping down to f/5.6 clears up most of the haze and thereby increases contrast, but sharpness is still just acceptable. At f/8, the sharpness finally increases to “good” and the lens delivers an even performance throughout the frame. The same is true for f/11. Diffraction becomes evident at f/16, which is pretty late and supports the general feel that the lens is not stunningly sharp before. f/22 is soft as always. As is to be expected from a slow-ish tele, field curvature is not noticeable.

A light green and magenta is visible at f/4.5 and f/5.6, which transform into sharp but small CAs by f/8. A typical performance for a medium tele.

Vignetting is about 3/4 of a stop at f/4.5, very low at f/5.6 and disappears when stopping down further. The lens also exhibits a practically irrelevant pincushion distortion of 0.2%. The effective T-stop at f/4.5 is approximately T5.6 (-0.6 EV), which is just okay.

In conclusion, the MC 200 mm f/4.5 is a skinny tele without any flashy features. It’s not fast, it’s not light, it’s not small. Compared to the often praised MD 200 mm f/4, the f/4.5 does not fare too well, either. The f/4 is slightly lighter, by far sharper at every aperture and not even considerably bigger. There’s little difference in the CA performance and the f/4 is – of course – half a stop faster. It might sound a bit harsh, but I could not think of one single reason to use the f/4.5 instead of the f/4. Even the lower price doesn’t really count, as the MD 200 mm f/4 is a very common lens and can be bought for little money in many package deals including a body and one or two more lenses. Let me state this explicitely, just to be sure: Get the f/4!

 

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/4.5

MC-X 200 mm f/4.5 @ f/4.5

 

f/5.6

MC-X 200 mm f/4.5 @ f/5.6

 

f/8.0

MC-X 200 mm f/4.5 @ f/8.0

 

f/11

MC-X 200 mm f/4.5 @ f/11

 

f/16

MC-X 200 mm f/4.5 @ f/16

 

f/22

MC-X 200 mm f/4.5 @ f/22

 

Field curvature at f/4.5

Field curvature: MC-X 200 mm f/4.5 @ f/4.5

 


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