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The sharpness of Minolta MC 58mm f1.4

Dominic Tran , Apr 15, 2005; 12:59 p.m.

I just got an used Minolta MC 58mm f1.4 lens . It is soft at f1.4 and f2.8, it starts to be sharper at f4 .

I also have an used Minolta MC 50mm f1.4 lens . At f1.4 and f2.8, the MC 50mm f1.4 seems to be sharper than the MC 58mm f1.4 lens . Does any body have any experiences with this lens regarding its sharpness.

Thanks for your inputs,

Dominic Tran

Responses


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Chris Accetta , Apr 15, 2005; 01:46 p.m.

Dominic,

Used wide open the 58/1.4 is a very slightly softer than the MD 50/1.7 I also own. The difference is neglibile, though (it's only 1/3 stop). The usual caveat applies: your results may differ.

To me, the bigger drawback to the 58/1.4 is that it's a little more flare-prone. I should probably use a hood for shooting in bright light.

Hope this helps. Enjoy the new lens.

Andrew Gardner , Apr 15, 2005; 01:50 p.m.

Dominic-

Have you checked out http://www.rokkorfiles.com?

Antony has some great reviews and comparisons there. Actually, I see a comparison of the lenses you are referring to (I think) right here.

Good luck!

Scot Tremblay , Apr 15, 2005; 02:19 p.m.

Hello Dominic,

I have both those lenses and can agree with your experience. However, I think that is just "the nature of the beast". You can find the same or simular comments in other forums concerning Nikon, Pentax, etc. The Zeiss Ikon users have the same comments concerning the difference in softness between the Sonnar f2/5 cm and the Sonnar f1.5/5 cm.

In a pamphlet I have from the late 60's there is a description of this lens and it's sister the 58mm f/1.2 MC Rokkor-X as "the fastest of the "normal" focal-length Rokkor-X lenses, and it is also the longest of the normals. Both features, extreame high speed and "long normal" focal length...make this an extreamly useful lens for candid portraiture in very low ambient light situations."

Sounds a bit like the lens might have been intended to be soft at the lower end or if a design feature, it is to be taken advantage of. Ie. in candid portraiture. Softness can be good for people photography,...or not.

I find that almost any lens "sofens up" as one approaches the widest aperture, it's up to the photographer to take the best advantage of that feature.

In my opinion, as the 58mm f1.4 approaches the mid ranges, I think you would be hard pressed to find another of any brand that can match it. I like very much the way that extra 8mm brings the background just that little bit closer to the subject and really lets it stand out. With careful focusing I find one can get an almost 3D affect.

It's one of my favorite lenses (along with the MC W. Rokkor-X f1.8/35mm) and wouldn't be without it in my kit.

D.W. Fletcher , Apr 15, 2005; 08:31 p.m.

My mc 58mm/1.4 is pretty damn sharp at f2.8, although it's a little soft wide open. That's to be expected.

Jeff Adler , Apr 15, 2005; 08:39 p.m.

My two Minolta standard f/1.4 lenses are a 58mm f/1.4 MC and a 50mm f/1.4 MD Rokkor-X. The 58 was Minolta's last six element f/1.4 standard lens. All of the later models had seven elements. My 58 was overhauled and works nicely. I don't think it had much use before I got it. I don't find that it is quite as sharp wide open as the 50mm f/1.4 MD Rokkor-X but it is a very decent lens when closed down even a little. I was told by Essex Camera Service that the 58 is only hard coated on the front surface of the front element. I was warned to keep a filter over the front element and a rear cap on the back any time the lens is not on a body. If the elements inside the lens get dirty it is very difficult to clean them without scratching the glass.

Nikon's first f/1.4 standard SLR lens was a 58. Konica stayed with the six element 57mm f/1.4 Hexanon until 1973 when it was replaced by a 50. In my experience the 57 Hexanon is better than the 58mm f/1.4 Rokkor. Mamiya screw mount cameras in the 500DTL and 1000DTL series came with 55mm f/1.4 lenses. If I remember correctly the early f/1.4 standard lens for the Topcon SLR cameras was also a 58. By the time the Super DM came out it was replaced by a 50.

I also have a 55mm f/1.7 MC lens and several 50mm f/1.7 MDs. The 55 is decent and was the model sold with most of the early SRT-101s. The plain Jane 50mm f/1.7 MD is probably Minolta's best manual focus standard lens ever. I sometimes use it for close-ups with the 2 element Minolta close-up lenses and the results are quite good if you close down a few stops.

I don't agree that the early Minolta 58 was purposely made to be less sharp than other standard lenses. It was a decent example of a six element f/1.4 standard lens. Canon's f/1.4 standard SLR lenses were always 50s. In 1968 the old six element 50mm f/1.4 FL was replaced by the seven element 50mm f/1.4 FL II. I have two of these and they compare very favorably with the later FD models and even with much more recent 50mm f/1.4 lenses. The later FD models had more modern coatings.

ross b , Apr 15, 2005; 10:23 p.m.

I have that lens and find it to be sharp enough at f1.4 but I agree it is sharper at f2.8. Something to consider is the depth of field is very narrow obviously. If your camera focus is not spot on you can fall slightly out of the focus zone, causing the image to be slightly out of focus or appear soft. I have experienced that with a x-700 that I used to own.

Ivan Dzo , Apr 16, 2005; 10:12 a.m.

The rokkor files hasn't tested this lens, although Anthony did recently agree that he would get one and add it to his test series. I love this lens! I had one and it was the sharpest 50'ish lens I'd ever tested. Then the aperture spring snapped and I binned it. The replacement is also good but not as good as the first. I now have 3 of them! (very sad) but use them as my standard lens on several bodies. They seem to vary quite a bit between samples (as other lenses may) but the best one I've got is VERY sharp from f2 onwards. I use it as a low light lens. For the price on Ebay, they are stunning quality.

Brian Southward , Apr 18, 2005; 09:21 a.m.

I agree with Ross. I have this lens and I am satisfied with the sharpness. Depth of field when wide open is very small though. Quality wise, in the current used market, it's a helluva lot of lens for your money.

Larry H. - Atlanta, GA , Apr 18, 2005; 11:16 a.m.

I once tested the MC Rokkor 58/1.4 and MC Rokkor-X 50/1.4 head to head using astrophotos. My copy of the 58/1.4 was sharper at all apertures from f/1.4 - f/2.8. Light falloff on the 58 was also better. It is hard to judge flare with astrophotos, but the 50/1.4 did seem to have less of a problem with flare on terrestrial photos.

But this was only one copy of each lens. YMMD.


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