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Monday
Jan112010

Minolta MC Rokkor - PG F/1.4 50mm Lens Review



This may seem a little odd, reviewing an old 35mm film lens that can't really be used on any modern dSLR, only old Minolta film cameras, but I think it's important to look at old kit and realise how special it is.

Here's a slide-show of Flickr Photos tagged Minolta MC Rokkor 50mm f1.4.

I know that I'm guilty of looking at older EF-Mount Canon film cameras as lens donors - I just buy them for the lens, then the body gets put in a drawer never to be used again. But with these Minolta MC Rokkor lenses you can't do that. Any adapter needs a quality-sapping glass element, so you've got to use them as they were originally intended, on a 35mm Film SLR.

Onlookers
Onlookers

Look at it large.

Shooting film is a lesson in itself. 24 or 36 exposures per roll, with a tangible cost to buying and printing the film and photographs. You won't burn through frames when you're using a film camera. Each scene has to be examined from different angles. "Is this worth an exposure?" Then as you look through your view-finder you'll be checking your composition, your levels, for any distractions, and if the shutter speed or aperture need adjusting. You'll slow down.

F1.4 DOF
F1.4 DOF

Look at it large.

I'm not saying that film is better than digital. I can count on one hand the number of rolls I shot last year, but every photographer should have a go at least once. I can remember buying my Minolta SRT101 with its 50mm from a local car-boot sale a couple of years ago. I didn't know anything about it before, but it felt good in my hand as I examined it. Solid. Well built. There's nothing like the sound of a mechanical shutter / mirror action and the sound the camera makes as you wind the film on.

It's the simplicity of the thing. Pop a roll of film in, set the ISO, choose your aperture, then adjust your shutter speed to make the exposure needle level. Manually focus, check your composition and shoot. No worrying about which type of metering to use, white balance or whether to use RAW or jpeg. Its Film baby!

Reflections
Reflections

Look at it large.

Seriously though, the MC Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 is a great walk-around lens for your old Minolta 35mm Film SLR. You can shoot in low light wide open, or stop the lens down and increase your sharpness and depth of field. Ultimately the quality will depend on the film you buy and the processing you use. I'm skint, so it's cheap Fujifilm and Asda processing, but my ultimate aim would be to have my own dark-room and precess my own black and white film and prints. Heaven!

CNV00012
CNV00012

Look at it large.

A quick check on eBay shows that you can buy the f/1.7 version of this lens for about £20, but you're better off looking for it on a camera body, where I've seen them going for about the same price. Always check that there's no fungus in the lens, and no big scratches on the elements. If you're interested in the camera body too, again always ask if it's in full working order.

CNV00016

Look at it large.

So there we have it - my short review of the Minolta MC Rokkor - PG 50mm 1:1.4 manual focus lens. A great piece of glass that stands up to its modern counterparts, it's just a shame that I can't put it on the front on my Canon EOS 350d / Digital Rebel XT!

Here's a guy who's converted his Canon dSLR Body to take Minolta manual-focus lenses without an optical adapter.

Here's an article on converting MC-Mount lenses to Canon EF. (Selected lenses).

Cheers, Rob.

Reader Comments (2)

With the advent of Micro 4/3 cameras, you CAN use these old lenses (in fact nearly any lens ever made). You only need a simple adapter (no glass) that changes the flange distance and mount, so it remains optically the same. It is a dream to use old lenses like these (~$40) on a new digital still/video camera.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Great Post! I'm thinking that I want to go back to film photography!

February 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVenus

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