Steve Cushing Impresionist Fine Art Photography

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

1965 MC Rokkor 58 mm f/1.2


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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 these 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.

Minolta called there lenses Rokkor after the mountains near their headquarters, Mount Rokko. The Minolta Rokkor 58mm f/1.2 often referred to as a "near fifty" lens is an ultra fast manual focus prime lens for SLR cameras, it was Minolta’s top-of-the line normal lens from the mid 60’s until the introduction of the MD 50 mm f/1.2 in 1978.

The optical scheme comprises 7 elements in 5 groups. Thanks to very high brightness value of f/1.2 it comes as a great tool in poor lighting conditions and when a short depth of field is required. Thanks to the 8-bladed aperture, the subjects located outside the depth of field are shown with very smooth features. The appearance of this out of focus background is called bokeh.

Minolta lenses are famous for their superb contrast and "bokeh".

Lens In Use

  • Excellent build quality
  • Smooth and extremely precise focusing
  • Approximately 480 g, so quite heavy and is a little front-heavy
  • Poor quality and uneven lens coating that often shows up in the bokeh

Summary

This lens has what I would describe as a dual bokeh personality, from defined bubbles to a creamy out of focus painterly texture. The the bokeh becomes painterly smooth beyond f1.2. This gives the lens a very pleasing optical characteristics. It does not become razor sharp until f/4, but this an advantage in certain creative uses and gives me, as a photographer, lots of creative possibilities. For me resolution isn't everything in optics, one of the main creative tools of the photographer is the great potential for a blurred background. If any photographer thinks about bokeh rendering, cares about the “3D effect” on photos, and is looking for one of the best bokeh-tools ever produced – this lens should be in their bag.


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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