My first test of 200mm lenses on the NEX-5N was partly compromised by turbulent air. Thus I re-ran the Minolta MC/MD lenses recently.
For the first time I was using Raw Therapee as a RAW data converter, due to its better detail resolution. No noise reduction was applied.


Camera: Sony NEX 5N (16 MP APS-C)
Sensitivity: ISO 100
Focusing: manually, center of the image (at 9.5x using focus peaking)
Tripod: Giotto MTL 8351B carbon with Manfrotto 410 three way head




Minolta 200mm f35 MC-I

The MC 200mm 1:3.5 from 1966 simply lacks resolution for the 16MP APS sensor; the result is the same as with my earlier test.The lens has a comparable performance to the much later Canon zoom FD 80-200mm 1:4. 


Minolta 200mm f35 MC-II

The second version of the MC 200mm 1:3.5 certainly performs much better (similar differences can be found between the MC-I 1.4/58mm and its MC-II sibling). We know from Dieter Gabler and from tests in Popular Photography that the perfomance of certain lenses was increased when switching from MC-I to MC-II style. Probably new glass and/or computer optimization was used, resulting in major improvements in spite of a virtually identical cross section of the lens. 


Minolta 200mm f35 MC-X

The MC-X variant of the MC 200mm 1:3.5 seems to be even better than the MC-II. Its performance wide open is very good (certainly much better than the MC-I from 1966). Best detail resolution is in the range of f5.6 - f11.


Minolta 200mm f45 MC-X

The MC 200mm 1:4.5 was introduced in 1973, together with the professional Minolta X-1/XM/XK. The lens is quite small, nicknamed "Tele-Bleistift" ("tele-pencil") by the German photojournalist Hans Kanne. It is beautifully mounted, using a massive "brass on aluminium" focusing mechanism. The lens therefore is quite heavy, but focusing is as smooth and precise as with the best Leica lenses - and much smoother than on contemporary Nikkors!! The slower of the two 200mm lenses from 1973 performs inferior (similary to the MC 4.5/300 vs MC 5.6/300 pair), especially in the corners.


Minolta 200mm f4 MC-X

The MC 4/200mm is one of the best 200mm lenses i know (and i have been using quite a few). It's performance is close to the legendary Minolta AF 2.8/200mm APO G. Excellent detail resolution wide open, no visible gain in image quality when stopping down to f5.6 or f8, and some deterioration at f11 due to diffraction. The lens has not more CAs than the AF 2.8/200mm APO G, and its focusing is precise and smooth. Remarkably, the lens performs nearly identically on the 36MP FF sensor of the Sony A7R! 

The lens certainly will benefit from the upcoming 50MP+ FF sensors.

The MC 4/200mm was released simultaneously with the legendary four element MC 2.8/135mm [4/4] in 1975. Both lenses represent the peak of optical and mechanical quality in the Minolta SR/MC/MD system. Both were produced as MD-I/II variants as well, and both were replaced by lighter versions with a different optical construction in 1979/80.


Minolta 200mm f28 MD-II

The MD 2.8/200 mm from 1979 uses the same construction principles as the MC 4.5/200mm and the 4/200mm: They all consist of a front triplet and a rear negative group. The MD 2.8/200 mm performs nearly as good as the MC 4/200 mm; only the CAs (lateral and longitudinal!) are more pronounced. It's detail resolution is close to the later AF 2.8/200mm APO G (1988).

The lens is mounted in a double screw channel made from "aluminium on aluminium" (not the ideal combination "alu on brass" seen on most MC lenses!). Sadly, focusing of this beautiful lens is quite stiff and much mor difficult than with corresponding MC lenses (sam applies for the MD 2/135mm). Close focus is 1.8m, much better than the previous 2.5m of the MC 3.5/200mm and 4.5/200mm.


Minolta 100-200mm f56 MD-II at200mm

Among the Minolta tele zooms the 5.6/100-200mm from 1965 is unique - it's optical construction is "optically stabilized". The zoom has only three optical components: basic lens (four elements), variator (two elements) and focusing group (two elements). No compensating group (for keeping the focus while zooming) is needed, and the related complicated mechanisms are redundant as well. The lens was produced from 1965 until about 1985, and it's performance was much better than all later Minolta tele zooms (except the 4/70-210mm from 1983). Remarkably: the lens is nearly free from CAs. 


Minolta 80-200mm f45 MC-X at200mm

The MC 80-200mm 1:4.5 was released together with Minoltas professional XM camera. It was faster than the 5.6/100-200mm, it had a wider range, and it was mechanically stabilized (thus adding a fourth group, the compensator, to the mechanical construction of the lens). The MC 4.5/80-200mm performs not as good as contemporary primes, and on the 16MP APS sensor it should be stopped down to f11. The same optical construction later was also delivered as an MD 4.5/80-200mm.


Minolta 75-200mm f45 MD-II at200mm

The MD 75-200mm 1:4.5 from 1978 was not really better than the MC 4.5/80-200mm. While the CAs are clearly reduced, the overall perfomance at f4.5 or f5.6 is not satisfactory. In addition the 4.5/75-200mm tends to have a sticky aperture.


Minolta 70-210mm f4 MD-III at210mm

The MD 70-210mm 1:4 finally brings a decent performance for tele zooms. Developped in cooperation with Leitz, there's a significant improvement compared to earlier Minolta constructions (but also compared to Canons FD 80-200mm 1:4). Detail resolution and CAs are as good as with the earlier MC 3.5/200mm and MC 4.5/200mm constructions, but not on par with the contemporary minolta primes (MD 4/200mm and MD 2.8/200mm). The optical construction of the lens is said to be identical to the later AF 4/70-210mm.


Minolta 100-300mm f56 MD-III at200mm

The Minolta MD 100-300mm 1:5.6 was introduced in 1983. Three years later it was replaced by the AF 4.5-5.6/75-300mm. The MD 100-300mm lens is far from perfect, and due to its characteristics I suspect that it is not a Minolta construction. I know from a reliable eye witness that around 1980 Tamron was producing "original" lenses for Canon, Nikon, Minolta and Pentax in the same building. The MD 5.6/100-300mm might be one of them.