Minolta MD Rokkor 35-70mm f/3.5in Reviews: Lenses
By uccemebug/Michael (1,983)
on December 11, 2002 2:49:30 PM CST
A portrait shot on the streets of Toronto, taken with Rokkor 35-70mm lens
Before I start with my review: a brief history for some perspective.
In early 2001, I was living and working in Sydney, Australia. I had the (dangerous) habit of wandering into the camera store across from my office on the odd lunch-break. One day, I found the 35-70mm Rokkor lens under the display counter in the used section.
The 35-70mm seemed like an interesting replacement for two lenses I already had: a 55mm and a 28mm wide angle. I had spent ten years with just those two lenses, and they had always proven useful. But I had been growing increasingly tired of switching them constantly.
But I had reason for pause. When I first got my camera (as a gift), it had come with a 70-210mm zoom telephoto lens. I had found the lens to be quite dark while framing shots, even at the widest aparture. I'd also been unimpressed with the build quality and the quality of the shots I'd made with it. The results were always muddied and flat. I'd come to the conclusion that Minolta zoom lenses were to be avoided.
I had a look, anyway. And I was immediately impressed with its quality.
Just by tinkering with it in the store I quickly realized that it was a far cry from the inferior 70-210mm lens I'd had. Viewing was quite bright, and the controls were smooth, tight, and steady. I was also impressed by the lens's ability to zoom while staying focussed. After nearly tens years of frequently switching between two fixed lenses, the usefulness of this lens struck me immediately.
Shot taken with 35-70mm Rokkor lens reverse-mounted for macro effect (wood carving is also my original work)
The Rokkor 35-70mm f/3.5 lens from Minolta was made during the 80's for the manufacturer's line of manual cameras. It is an all-metal lens featuring: constant aperture during zoom; a dedicated zoom ring and a wide 'one-touch' focus/zoom ring with a smooth action; a 55mm accessory ring and a secondary accessory ring for a hood.
I have used it to take consistently sharp, well-contrasted, and distortion-free shots for over two years. While lens flare can be a problem (the front group is almost flush with the accessory ring), I have found the lens to be a joy to use and the results extremely pleasing.
In two+ years since purchasing this camera, Ive never noticed any sign of wear, other than the paint bearing a few tiny scratches and some "brassing" around the front rim of the lens. This despite the likelihood that my lens was over ten years old when I bought it (Ive read newsgroup reports that indicate that the model was discontinued in the late 80s or early 90s).
A wide-angle shot of Calgary, Alberta taken with Rokkor 35-70mm lens
This is a quick list of the features of this lens.
These figures come from an excellent summary of Minolta's MD lenses by Paul van Soest.
The manualminolta review of this lens suggests that its high quality led Leica to introduce it 'as the Leitz Vario-Elmar R 35-70 f3.5'
Two women cross a bridge in Vancouver's east end
I've been very pleased with the photos I've taken with this lens; my portfolio consists mostly of shots I took with this one lens. The photo above was taken on a bridge constructed of textured flooring and a cage of bars and fencing. The slight moire on the floor of the bridge was introduced by JPEG compression (to keep the size down, this one was saved at roughly 50% quality!) Below is a quick summary of its performance.
I managed to replace two fixed lenses with this 35-70mm zoom, and have been happy with it in all respects. It has its limitations (notably its limited zoom range), but when if I'm heading out with my camera, it's the lens I invariably choose. I like its versatility, dependability and performance, and recommend it to owners of Minolta manual-focus cameras that take MD lenses.
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