Quick-Review: Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8

Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8

Specifications

  • Diameter: 66mm
  • Length: 68mm
  • Weight: 415g
  • Filter Diameter: 55mm
  • Number of aperture blades: 6
  • Close Focusing Distance: 0.3m
  • Mount: Minolta SR

The Minolta MC 35mm 1:1.8 usually sells for around $115-160 at ebay.com (affiliate link). 
In Germany you can buy it for 120-160€ at ebay.de (affiliate link). 

Sample images

Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/1.8
Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/1.8 | full resolution
Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/1.8
Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/1.8 | full resolution
Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/1.8
Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/1.8 | full resolution

Versions

The Minolta MC W.Rokkor-HH 1:1.8 f=35mm (exact inscription) was introduced in 1968 with a flat, all metal focusing ring (MC-I), in 1970 the focusing ring was updated to the hill and valley design (MC-II). The next update was the rubberized focusing ring (MC-X), you see it pictured in this review. Some MC-X lenses carry the HH in the name (which indicates that it is a 8 elements in 6 groups design), younger ones don’t.

All three versions use the same optical design and the only difference is the different design of the focusing ring.

The Minolta MD (W.Rokkor) 35mm 1:1.8 which was introduced in 1978 is much lighter and smaller, the optical design is also different.

DSC01073

Sharpness

Minolta_MC_35mm_f1p8_infinity2

You can find the full resolution test images in the Minolta MC 1.8/35 flickr set.

f/1.8:  The resolution is quite high in the center and midframe region but due to spherical aberration contrast is quite low. The corners are soft.

f/2.8: Most of the image is very sharp and contrasty, midframe decent but the corners are soft.

f/4: Midframe and corner region improve a little.

f/5.6 and f/8: Best apertures for midframe sharpness, only the extreme  corners are soft.

f/11: Best aperture for the extreme corners.

DSC00179

Comment

The Minolta MC 1.8/35 is not a lens you buy for it’s sharpness but for it’s character and great built quality.

At f/1.8 there is quite a lot of spherical aberration (especially at very close distances) so while images have quite a bit of detail they have a lower contrast and a bit of glow. Vignetting is very high at 2,6 stops and easily visible in most pictures. Bokeh is mostly smooth at short distances (where the lens is noticeably softer) and a bit funky at longer distances.  The less than spectacular flare resistance is also a fact that you have to consider.

Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/1.8 | full resolution
Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/1.8 | full resolution
Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/4 | full resolution
Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/1.8 | full resolution
Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/1.8 | full resolution
Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/1.8 | full resolution
Minolta_MC_35mm_f1p8-25
Minolta MC 35mm 1:1.8 | f/1.8 | full resolution

These are the reasons why I would call this a character lens. It can still produce very nice images but you will have an abundance of aberrations in the image.

Stop the 1.8/35 down to f/2.8 most of the aberrations are reduced a lot. Contrast and sharpness are good, the bokeh is smoother as well and vignetting is no longer an issue.

Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/1.8 | full resolutionSony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/2.8 | full resolution

Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/2.8 | full resolutionSony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/2.8 | full resolution

Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/1.8 | full resolutionSony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/2.8 | full resolution

For landscape photography I would recommend f/5.6 or f/8 where only the extreme corners are soft, the rest of the image is very sharp and on the same level as e.g. the FE 4/16-35 ZA, the much smaller and cheaper 2.8/35 is a bit better. Vignetting is negligible and lateral CA moderate.

Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/8 | full resolution
Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/8 | full resolution

Typically for a Minolta MC lens built quality is great, it doesn’t get much better than this. The lens is made of nothing but metal and glass (well and some rubber for the focusing ring but it has aged very well). The focusing ring is a pleasure to use. The MC 1.8/35 is neither small nor light and handling on the Sony a7 series is still okay but certainly less pleasant than that of smaller lenses like the Minolta MD 2.8/35.

All in all I enjoyed using the Minolta MC 1.8/35 but that was more because of the aberrations, not because it is a technically good lens at f/1.8. Modern lenses like the Voigtlander 1.7/35 play in a different league. From f/2.8 it is a technically good lens but still not as good as the much smaller MD 2.8/35 or FD 2.8/35. So I would recommend it to those who like it’s character at f/1.8 but for most purposes a cheaper and smaller 2.8/35 will perform as good or better. 

The Minolta MC 35mm 1:1.8 usually sells for around $115-160 at ebay.com (affiliate link). 
In Germany you can buy it for 120-160€ at ebay.de (affiliate link). 

If this review was helpful to you, please consider using one of my affiliate links. I will earn a small commission on your purchase and it won’t cost you anything. Thanks!

More sample images

Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/16 | full resolution
Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/16 | full resolution
Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/1.8 | full resolution
Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/4 | full resolution
DSC01025
Sony a7 | Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8 | f/1.8 | full resolution

More full resolution images can be found in my Minolta MC 1.8/35 flickr set.

Further Reading

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I like to be outside with my camera and I am also a gear head with a love for manual lenses.

18 thoughts on “Quick-Review: Minolta MC Rokkor 35mm 1:1.8”

  1. I like ur review about the Lens u use in ur Sony Camera…still thinking if l will buy Sony Camera or other brand like canon or nikon camera…now l know l can still use some of Lenses of my old cameras like Minolta, Nikon & Pentax…thanks so much & thanks too for sharing ur pix,,,

  2. Just ordered a copy of this lens to compare with my MD 35/2.8. Curious to see how they measure up. I like the larger build of it, and am hoping it has that charismatic glow that I love from my MC 55/1.7. By the sounds of your review, it definitely does have the same glow and “charm” wide open as the 55/1.7. I really like the 35/2.8, but find that it’s very “clinical” and basic wide open, and I like to have more character in my shots. I had the legendary 58/1.2 for a couple months but never used it because I preferred the 55/1.7’s “look” over it. Crazy, but true!

    Anyway, thanks so much for all your great reviews and info. You’ve been a huge help to me and my filmmaking/photography work! You should check out the music video I shot using mostly Minolta lenses on Sony cameras.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7N67_pVpRGQ

    Cheers!

  3. Phillip
    Great review! I love the information, it has greatly helped my decision making, and also discovering the possibilities of these fine sony a7 cameras. I do have a question regarding the differences between lenses… What would be the difference between the Minolta MD Rokkor 35mm 1:2.8, and the Minolta MC W.Rokkor HG 35mm f2.8? I’m in the middle of purchasing one from eBay and really don’t know which one is better in terms of build quality and image quality. Your input would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you
    Jorge

  4. Yes, it is a beautifully made and characteristic lens. Nice to see this ‘fresh’ review. I have one for sale, converted to Minolta/Sony AF bayonet and chip.
    laptoprob at zonnet dot nl

    hope you don’t mind my advertising… thanks!

  5. Phillip
    I think I may go with the Minolta MC W Rokkor – HH 1.8 – f = 35mm serial number 1102805. Is there a way to tell what year it was made by the serial number? I’m a bit of a sucker for the older stuff lately 🙂

    Thank you

  6. I got that from thrift store last year! It is old but it’s sturdy! I did not test that because I have to buy fotodoix adapter for my 5D Mark II. I am curious. Is that will work for Minolta MC W. Rokkor-x 1.8 35mm?

  7. I had a copy of the first generation 35mm f/1.8 lens, and also a 100 mm f/2.5 lens, dating from about 1969 or so. They may have been part of the first batch shipped to the U.S, and had those metal focusing rings. I shot hundreds of rolls of B&W film in college on them. I wish I still had those lenses, but they were stolen over the years.

  8. I like the review I feel it is well done my old 35:MC 1.8 died years ago to some type of fungus in the lens so I gave it to someone who thought they could fix it the lens was not used much by me so I didn’t replace it so my 45mm lens saw more action and I soon for got about the 35mm lens

  9. Tried the Minolta MD (W.Rokkor) 35mm 1:1.8 on my Sony 7r. Wasn’t that great. It lacks in Resolution – even at f11… I believe the 7r is not very forgiving here.
    Otherwise my new Tokina 90mm 2,5 is very good and can serve the high resolution Sensor well.

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