A Minolta MC 135mm lens

My first Minolta MC 135mm lens, this is the oldest of the two MC versions with a rubber-clad focus ring. According to Dennis Lohmann’s lens index it is the optical design with 6 elements in 5 groups; the later version has the 4/4 design in common with the early MD Tele Rokkor 135/2.8 lenses.

As usual with MC lenses this feels like a solid piece of equipment. Focus is smooth and without play and the metal aperture ring adds to the impression of quality. In common with all later 135/2.8 models it features a built-in lens hood.

In general the Minolta 135/2.8 lenses with 4 elements in 4 groups are most highly regarded, so let’s see how this lens compares to the Minolta MD Tele Rokkor 135/2.8 with a 4/4 design as well as the last 135/2.8 in the Minolta line-up, the plain MD 135/2.8 with a 5/5 design. All test shots have been made with the Sony A7 and processed in Lightroom/Photoshop.

MC Tele Rokkor-PF @ f/2.8, center crop
MD Tele Rokkor @ f/2.8, center crop
MD @ f/2.8, center crop

The interesting part here is the difference in purple fringing: the MC lens is less affected by it than the other two. Sharpness is about equivalent in all crops. The MD Tele Rokkor is slightly sharper and contrastier in the corners.

MC Tele Rokkor-PG @ f/2.8, center crop
MD Tele Rokkor @ f/2.8, center crop
MD @ f/2.8, center crop

Again there’s little between the lenses in terms of sharpness. The MC is less contrasty and has a cooler color rendition than the other two, while the plain MD lens has the best colour and contrast to my eyes. I’ve come to expect this, of all the Minolta SR-mount lenses the youngest plain MD lenses in general show the nicest rendition.

All lenses improve of course on stopping down, although the MC remains the less contrasty one. Is the highly-praised 4/4 design better than the others? Maybe, just maybe, differences are small in my opinion and the older MC lens acquits itself quite well, I’d have no hesitation in using it. In actual use I prefer the plain MD 2.8/135 because I like its colour and contrast and it’s lighter and smaller to boot.

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