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!
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Field curvature at f/4.5