Minolta MC Rokkor 58mm 1:1.2 Review

Minolta MC Rokkor 58mm 1:1.2

Minolta MC Rokkor 58mm 1:1.2

Introduction

This is the most popular manual Minolta lens, I sold it twice just to buy another copy because it is such a nice lens.
Its most distinctive quality is the great bokeh.

It is pretty heavy and large for a standard lens and sharpness from f/2 is a tiny little bit worse than the much cheaper and somewhat smaller Minolta MC 1.4/50 but this lens has superior bokeh and is a joy to use.

Specifications

Size: (diameter x length): 70.8mm x 54mm
Filter Thread: 55mm
Weight: 478g
Close Focusing Distance: 0.6m
Number of aperture blades: 8
Price: about 350€ used in good condition (Germany January 2014).  For current prices check ebay.de (affiliate link) or ebay.com (affiliate link).

Versions

There are 3 mechanically different versions of the lens which share the same optical design.

The first version was built from  1966-1969 and the focusing ring is made completely from metal and flat. It is the rarest of the three versions and its lenses get a yellow cast over time which migh be due to a radioactive element. You can see an image of it here.

The second version was built from 1969-1973 and the focusing ring is also completely from metal but it has some elevations which the first one didn’t have.  Some Images of it can be found here.

The third version is most common and was built from 1973.
The lens has a rubberized waffle style focusing ring and while all the earlier versions were labeled Rokkor-PG (indicating a 5 Groups, 7 lenses design) the PG-affix was dropped during the production of this version.
The images shown in this post depict the third version.

All versions seem to perform the same, of course there is sample variation and someone might find that his older copy performs better than a younger one but I don’t know of any evidence indicating a systematic difference between them.

Build quality

The lens is completely made of high quality metals with a rubberized focus ring.

It is really resistant to mechanical wear, even though I have used this 40-years-old lens quite a lot there are close to no scratches.

The focus ring turns nice an smoothly, it doesn’t get  better than this.

The aperture ring can be adjusted in half-stops, only from f/1.2 to f/2 the is no stop between.

Optical performance

I tested this lens on a Sony a7.

Minolta_MC_58mm_f12_SonyA7_closeup
f/1.2 is wrongly labeled as f/1.4 but it is actually f/1.2

 

For an infinity test click here.

f/1.2

The contrast is low in the center of the image and even lower outside of it.
Resolution is quite high though, even in the midframe area. I think it is very close to the a7’s sensor resolution.

While the image should theoretically be 1.5 stops brighter than at f/2,   it is only about one stop brighter in the center.

This is an usual behavior for  super fast lenses on digital sensors and not a special problem of this lens, for a discussion of the phenomenon see this thread at fredmiranda.com.

Vignetting is really noticeable at this aperture, the corners are not any brighter at f/1.2 than at f/2.
Minolta_MC_58mmf12_SonyA7_atf12.jpg
ISO 100 | 1/320 sec. | f/1.2
Minolta_MC_58mmf12_atf2.jpg
ISO 100 | 1/160 sec. | f/2

Bokeh can be quite harsh at f/1.2 or it can be quite okay, it really depends on the scene. If smooth bokeh is important stop down to f/2 were it gets much smoother.

I think this aperture is usable when there isn’t too much light and thin DOF is important or if rather funky bokeh is desired, but for everyday use and portraits I usually stop down to at least f/2 because performance is much better at this aperture.

Steinwaechter

hotensieImWinter

party

 

f/2

Contrast improves a lot in the image center and moderately in the midframe while the corners are still soft.

For portraits and closeups this aperture is fully usable as long as the subject isn’t placed to close to the rather lousy corners.

Bokeh is really nice at f/2 and this is my most used aperture.
oldMill_13

Sunrise

Minolta_MC_58mmf12_f2_SonyA7

f/2.8

The center of the image is really sharp now.

Midframe sharpness is good now and the corners improve as well, but they are not really sharp yet.

This aperture can be used for almost anything, except when corner sharpness is critical.

DSC04612

darkPond
f/4

The center improves slightly, moire becomes visible, midframe sharpness is great as well but the is some CA visible.
The corners have improved quite bit, but significant astigmatism can be seen, while sagittal lines are sharp tangential ones are not.
winterrose2

f/5.6

Even the corners are quite good now.

f/8

The image is sharp all over.
This is the optimal aperture for landscape use and will result in super sharp images.

f/11

The image softens slightly because of diffraction

Links

check out the Rokkor images thread at fredmiranda.com, there are many images taken with this lens

Also check out this flickr set by sebboh with many great sample images.

Compatibility

Because of the mechanical construction of the lens it is, in contrast to almost every other Minolta SR-mount lens, quite easy to adapt it to either Canon EF or Sony A-mount.

Adapters are made by Leitax and Jim Buchanan. I used the lens on a Canon 5dII for some time with a Leitax Adapter which is really solid, without modification it can’t be focused further than 5m without hitting the mirror though. (I still have a Leitax mount for it which I don’t use, just contact me if you are interested)

It is even easier to use this lens with a Sony a7 (r) or a Nex because these cameras have a flange focal distance than traditional DSLRs and this lens can be directly adapted with a adapter.

You can either buy a cheap adapter (affiliate link) or a more expensive one from Novoflex (affiliate link). Nowadays I recommend the Novoflex adapter but the cheap ones are good enough, when I wrote this review I only owned cheap ones. For a more detailed discussion of adapters check out this article.

Images Samples in high resolution

See this flickr set for more full resolution images.

Minolta MC 58mm 1:1.2 SonyA7 at f/1.2
Sony a7 | f/1.2
Minolta MC 58mm 1:1.2 SonyA7 at f/1.2
Sony a7 | f/1.2

Minolta_MC_58mmf12_atf2
Sony a7 | f/2

Minolta MC 58mm f12 Sony A7 atf2 full resolution
Sony a7 | f/2

Minolta MC 1.2/58 @f/8

 Conclusion

The lens delivers a solid performance and even though it is a big and heavy lens I often take it with me because it has such nice bokeh and delivers a solid performance.

While modern lenses like the super sharp Zeiss FE 1.8/55 or even the mighty Otus 1.4/55 will give much sharper results  wide open,  these lenses are much more expensive and I don’t really need sharp corners at f/2 very often. And at f/8 this lens is really sharp and the difference between it and a FE55 will be minor.

If you are interested in the lens please follow theses links: ebay.de (affiliate link) or ebay.com (affiliate link)

Further Reading

  • For an Introduction to using manual lenses on the Alpha 7 check out my beginners guide.
  • To learn about other Minolta lenses check out my Minolta lens ratings.
  • Comparison: Minolta MC 1.2/58 vs Canon FD 1.2/55

 

lenses on A7 (3 von 19)

The following two tabs change content below.
I like to be outside with my camera and I am also a gear head with a love for manual lenses.

42 thoughts on “Minolta MC Rokkor 58mm 1:1.2 Review”

  1. Hi Phillipe,

    Seems there were 4 versions of this gem.

    I’ve a Rokkor PG with the rubborized waffle style focusing ring, and by reading the link you mention for the 2nd version, there is a range of serial numbers not referenced starting with 260xxxx (mine is part of the range).

    Though it was worth to mention it to you.

    Congrats for your site and the interesting articles 😉

    Ricardo

  2. Great read and has made me buy one of these beautiful lens!
    I’m looking forward to trying it on the A7R.
    Are there any other Rokkor lenses that you would recommend for your A7?
    Really enjoying your site and comments 🙂

    1. Hey Peter

      I have a Minolta 58 f1.4-one of the best ever-a MC 200 f4-nothing sharper, MC, MD rokkor 24-again nothing sharper-a 55 f1.7 and a 50 f1.7-again super sharp-the 200 and thd 24 were in conjunction with Leica. The 50 mc rokkor macro and 100 macros are outstanding-also the 85mm f2 version is awesome.

      Hope this helps

      best
      Greg

  3. Great review Phillip with some really nice images. This is one of the most exciting lenses I’ve used and the only thing that has a similar image rendering is the new Nikon 58 1.4g which costs much more and has a lesser build quality.

    I am using it with on NEX (since it can’t be adapted for Nikon) and can’t wait to use it on the A7r 🙂

      1. Hi Philipp,
        thanks for all your nice informative work. I like to follow you all over the place (forums, flickr). Maybe I can contribute a little to the last question.
        I have a MD 1.2/58 and a FD 55/1.2 SSC. Both have beautiful bokeh, no question. Both are lenses to be used wide open. From my experience the Canon has much less contrast, but is much sharper, especially in the corners.
        I love to use them both. If you prefer less contrast and less saturated colors like in high key portraits, you might prefer the Canon. The others probably favour the Minolta lens.
        The Canon renders highlights close to the corners differently. The Minolta renders almond shaped highlights the Canon’s highlights look more like a 3/4 moon: round on the outside more flat on the inside.
        Hope that helps.

  4. Nice review though I always struggle at buying fast lenses to use stopped down. I know why and I understand it, but my brain always catches on the idea.

    I recently picked up the Konica 57mm f1.4 and have fallen in love with it. I also use a Nikon 40mm f2.8 which is just crazy sharp.

    1. thanks 🙂

      yeah, you pay a lot of money and carry a lot of weight for that f/1.2. But since it is the nicest Normal lens at f/2 I know of thats a price I am willing to pay 😉

  5. I love the rendering this lens gives, it’s often “painterly”, even stopped down, (which is a very subjective term I know). However, I got so fed up forgetting to rack back from ∞ , resulting in mirror hits with the 5DII, that I sought out something else with similar rendering. The Voigtlander 58/1.4 SLII I found to be very close.
    Now I use the A7 like you, I need to compare these two lenses directly. They are both beauties.
    (Love your first F2 pic of autumn leaf. Beautiful light.)

  6. Somebody totally stole your photos to put in an eBay listing of this lens. Pretty sneaky.

    ebay.com.au/itm/Legendary-Minolta-MC-Rokkor-PG-58mm-f1-2-Lens-The-Creamiest-Bokeh-You-can-Get-/221653441184

  7. Hi Phillip,

    So if you’re shooting in F2 on this lens why wouldn’t you just get the cheaper F1.4 version and use that lens in F2.

    1. I didn’t say that I never use f/1.2 ;-).
      Also I think that the 1.2 is a better performer and it has 8 not just 6 aperture blades. I own a 1.4/58 maybe I will find the time to compare them a bit more carefully to be sure about my opinion.

  8. Thanks for this review with good image samples. Since this lens is so much better at f2 than at f1.2, I just want to suggest another very good Minolta standard lens: the very cheap and infamous MD 50mm f2. I didn’t compare it with the 58mm f1.2 personally, but it seems to beat all the other Minolta standard lenses at f2 and f2.8 concerning sharpness. It is fully usable wide open so in case one wants to save some money and weight, it is an excellent alternative. The used price is about 5% of what the 58mm sells for, can you imagine?

      1. It was your test that made me use the MD 50mm f2…haha. Just forgot where I read about it, but there are more websites that mention the f2.
        I just think the 58mm isn’t worth around $ 450, paying that much doesn’t guarantee making better photos, but sure there is a difference in quality of bokeh and build quality. What I like about the 58mm -although not owning that lens- is that it seems usable and sharp enough at 1.2. Wonder if it makes sense to go for these beasts though on a digital body. Film grain is not a problem anymore so anything that gives similar bokeh at f2 will do.

  9. Hi phillip!, I recently own one and came with full aperture always (aperture ring move but the blades don’t ) may be send it to clean or repair (do you have experience with similar problem?) , meanwhile I use it and always 1.2 ,do you have a profile to use on Lightroom?
    Thank you very much

  10. Hi Phillip! Appreciate your review a lot.
    I just recently got a copy of this Minolta 58 mm f/1.2, and I noticed pretty severe spherical aberration wide open. As I try to focus, it achieves best contrast, but is out of focus, and when it is on focus, there is some haze-like thing. I also notice some focus shift.
    Just want to confirm, it is also the case for your copy? Thank you a lot.

  11. Hi Phillip and everyone,

    I have a 58mm f/1.2 in the MC Rokkor PG version. I just have learnt the good repute of this lens by your words.
    Actually I thought it was not such good lens cause pictures i shot with it was not very sharp. On some of them, when i shot at full aperture, there is even sort of a lighting halo around the lit areas. I don’t have the same results as your photographies with mine, it seems to be another lens…
    Maybe the photos you show are postproceed on sharpness ?

    The lens have a bit of play between its pieces, do you think the problem can come from that ?

  12. Hello and thank you for putting all the info together. Have been following your blogs and have finally bought the legacy lens blog. I recently purchased the 50mm 1.2 and am also looking at 58mm 1.2 just to play around.

    What I am keen to know is whether a7ii is better to use with these lens and adapters or a7rii? I am in the market for one and with the recent trade-in promo, both are within reach. Is there any damage to the camera by using these (I suspect not but just to be absolutely sure.) Appreciate your guidance.

  13. Hey, I was wondering if this lens was compatible with Minolta X300.
    I just discovered your website and I have to say I already love it.
    Cheers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *