Steve Cushing Impresionist Fine Art Photography

Embracing imperfection, recording emotions, one impression at a time…

1976 MC W.Rokkor 24 mm f/2.8


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The Lens details of a series of images taken by Steve Cushing on mirrorless camera.

Fitting is a Minolta bayonet mount with a 43.5mm Flange Distance - this lens will fit and achieve focus to infinity mirrorless cameras but not on all DSLRs.

History


When Minolta introduced their first SLR camera, the SR-2 in 1958, they started out with four lenses.

These lenses where the 35mm wide angle, a 55mm normal lens, a 100mm short tele lens and a 135mm tele lens.

So how did Japanese companies take over from the early German companies?

After the war, with many plants bombed and the Russians taking over East Germany, production cost for making lenses were a lot cheaper in Japan. Even before the war German optics companies started to partner with Japanese companies to manufacture optic lenses used in industry and in cameras. Japan as one, if not the only industrialised Asian nation in the world at that time, had the capability and the cheap labour to entice German manufacturers to move some of their production there. Similar to what is happening right now with China.

Together with this and a new post-war Japanese law and export control system, Japanese optics companies were effectively out of the business from military purpose optics for long time into the future. So, a company that was making gun sight for fighter plane or war ships optics for battleship had to start competing on civilian market to survive or too close down. There was no carry on as normal option for them.

European manufacture did not suffer this problem as much as Japanese did, as they still had lucrative military optics markets that grew even more as cold war kicked in. Even decades after the Japanese started to return to scientific with a partial return to military optics market, they still had to make the majority of their money in consumer, industrial, or medical optics market. Another advantage Japan had was they could use military developments for domestic products. Autofocus technology for example were really designed for the military so this was quickly adapted for civilian purpose in Japan, but remained secret in the rest of the world as it was used for military purposes and companies were not permitted to use it outside of these military fields.

The Japanese soon became so adept at making advanced camera lenses, originally for the Germans and then for their own domestic use, that companies like Nikon, Olympus, Minolta started. Canon was an off-shoot of Nikon. And so, the Japanese came to dominate the camera as well as the lens market. The Germans still have Leica of course which is considered the most expensive camera system in the world.

This Lens

The terms MC and MD relate to different series’ of Minolta lenses, with different features. All of the lenses, however, use a SR mount.

Over the years since 1958 Minolta have manufactured some truly outstanding items of photographic equipment.

The MC W.Rokkor 24 mm f/2.8 is a high resolution, fast wide angle lens from the late 70’s. It features the same design as the earlier MC-X version: 9 lenses in 7 groups. Due to its superior optical performance, this lens was licensed by Leitz and sold under the Leica brand in a different casing.

Lens In Use

  • At approximately 280 g, the lens has just the right weight – not too heavy, not too light.
  • Gives a very versatile tool for reportage style photography.
  • Subjects close suffer the elongation that comes with a wide-angle lens being shot at the extreme of its focus distance, an effect that’s often used intentionally.
  • Sharpness is quite excellent in the centre of the frame at any aperture, and very good in the corners wide open.
  • Shooting at F/2.8 there’s some real softening at the very edges of the frame
  • When the lens stops down even one stop the sharpness becomes nearly uniform throughout, and once stopped down to F/5.6 and beyond, sharpness is pretty perfect.
  • Moderate light fall-off when shooting wide open, but this too corrects rapidly and completely when we stop the lens down.
  • Chromatic aberration (colour-fringing) is only evident in areas of the frame that show the most extreme contrast.


Summary

The build quality of the lens is excellent and it feels solid and compact. Focus is smooth and handling is very pleasant. The focus throw is rather short at roughly 85°, but precise focusing is not a problem because depth of field is large.

No one buys a wide-angle or ultra wide-angle lens for its bokeh, but when a wide lens can make smooth blur we count it as a bonus. When focusing very closely, this lens can do that. While it’s not the best bokeh around, it’s decent

This lens allows us to make images that simply can’t be made with any other focal length. Most notably the borderline ultra wide-angle lets us push away the background and emphasise space and distance. This is excellent in landscape and cityscape shot. It’s also a lens that makes us rethink a lot of what we know about photography. Composing shots with this lens is a totally different experience compared with the more common street standard 50mm. Shots that we’d normally take without a second’s thought require us to reinterpret our vision, or select subjects we’d not normally choose, or shoot them in a way that’s just a bit foreign to us.

For images using this lens click HERE

For general information on lens design and lens elements go to the homepage HERE

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