Review: Minolta MD W.Rokkor-X 35 mm f/2.8 (MD-II)

The MD W.Rokkor-X 35 mm f/2.8 with 5 lens elements in 5 groups is a pretty regular Minolta wide angle from the late 70’s. It is the successor of the MC versions with more complex designs (7/6) and the “slower brother” to the MD 35 mm f/1.8. Although simpler in construction than the MC lenses, the later MD designs offer a much improved performance as you can see later on.

The MD 35 mm f/2.8 is a light and compact lens with a surprisingly small front element. The two beveled diameter steps at the distance scale and atop the focusing ring give it a rather distinct appearance. Handling on a NEX-5T is effortless and focusing poses no problem, although the rubber grip is very thin. The effective focal length of 53 mm on APS-C cameras makes the MD 35 mm f/2.8 a handy, no-worries normal lens with good performance.

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. No visible scratches, some very fine dust particles inside.

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

Exterior: Good. Some scratches in the finishing and other typical signs of use.


Optical performance on NEX-5N / 5T

The lens shows acceptable sharpness at f/2.8 with no apparent haze but rather soft corners and some astigmatism (horizontal lines are rendered sharper than vertical ones). At f/4 the center get’s a head start and reaches close to very good sharpness, while the corners are now at least acceptable. They further improve at f/5.6 where the central region shows a very good performance – maybe it even deserves an “excellent”. f/8 is a tiny bit softer again in the center and the corners still don’t impress. Diffraction becomes apparent at f/11, visibly softens f/16 and mushes f/22.

A dark red and cyan glow is visible at f/2.8  which finally sharpens up at f/8 to form some small CAs. The aberrations stay constant when stopping down further. A very good performance for a wide angle lens.

Vignetting is about 2/3 of a stop at f/2.8 and is gone by f/4. The lens also exhibits a small barrel distortion of -0.6%. The effective T-stop at f/2.8 is T2.9 (-0.1 EV), which is very good.

The MD 35 mm f/2.8 is a top performer in every aspect. With the exception of slightly soft corners – probably due to field curvature – it does not show any weaknesses and can be used even wide open without restrictions. Compared to it’s older cousin, the MC W.Rokkor-HG 35 mm f/2.8, the MD is ahead in every aspect. If you want even more, go for the MC W.Rokkor-HH 35 mm f/1.8. The f/1.8  really destroys it’s competitors in terms of sharpness and corner performance, but shows visibly more CAs and is rather large and heavy for a 35 mm.


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.



Test chart overview

(Cropped areas marked in orange)



MD W.Rokkor-X 35 mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8



MD W.Rokkor-X 35 mm f/2.8 @ f/4.0



MD W.Rokkor-X 35 mm f/2.8 @ f/5.6



MD W.Rokkor-X 35 mm f/2.8 @ f/8.0



MD W.Rokkor-X 35 mm f/2.8 @ f/11



MD W.Rokkor-X 35 mm f/2.8 @ f/16



MD W.Rokkor-X 35 mm f/2.8 @ f/22


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One thought on “Review: Minolta MD W.Rokkor-X 35 mm f/2.8 (MD-II)

  • River Langham

    On a 35mm camera, this lens gives surprisingly top-notch bokeh wide open or even, at very close focus, at f/4. I was surprised to find this out but it’s a nice lens for close focus still lifes. The bokeh has the quality of an early Petzval formula portrait lens: very swirly and indistinct.