Minolta Lenses from 1966 to 1972 -- the time period of the MC Rokkor lenses

Automatic lenses added new convenience to photography.  But they created a problem when behind-the-lens meters were added to camera designs in 1966.  Since the automatic lenses remained at the maximum aperture, the meter in the camera had no way of knowing what the actual f-stop setting really was.  

Most companies "got around" this problem by using "stop-down" metering.  In this approach, you have to press a lever on the camera to stop-down the lens and activate the meter. At that point the meter can take a reading..  Not only is this awkward, it defeats the whole purpose of an automatic lens system -- to keep the lens open and the viewfinder bright until the instant of the exposure.  Minolta was able to avoid this whole problem of "stop-down" metering because they happened to design most of their lenses -- from the beginning -- with the aperture ring next to the camera body.  For many other manufacturers, the f-stop ring was placed in the middle or at the front of the lens.  This made linking their lenses to the camera meter a difficult procedure.

All Minolta had to do was make a minor modification to the f-stop ring on their lenses to tell the camera what the f-stop was set at.  This is just one of the reasons why Minolta was able to keep their lens mount the same over all these the years, while most other camera manufacturers have had to make significant changes in their lenses.  So a new series of lenses was designed for the SRT101 -- Minolta's first TTL metering SLR -- which coupled to the built-in meter. The "MC" in "MC Rokkor" refers to "meter-coupling" -- not "multi-coating", as some people think .  (These lenses were coated, but not multi-coated.)  Each lens has a small lug attached to the f-stop ring that engages a spring-loaded pin on the new TTL camera bodies.  The lens conveys the selected f-stop to the camera meter as the aperture ring is turned.  For every 4mm turn of the f-stop dial on the lens, the metering system recommends the next shutter speed setting.  In this way, the meter is then able to determine the appropriate shutter speed -- for that scene and film speed -- while the lens diaphragm stays open at its maximum setting.  Stop-down metering became a thing of the past!  

One setback to automatic lenses is that, since they remain at the maximum aperture regardless of the pre-set f-stop, there is no way to view the actual depth-of-field in the viewfinder -- as you could do easily with older lenses by just changing the f-stop. Minolta resolved this problem by adding a new DOF (depth-of-field) button to their new cameras.  Pressing this button, stopped an automatic lens down to the pre-set aperture, so that you could view the actual depth-of-field in the viewfinder.  In fact, the aperture lock button of the earlier lenses was dropped from this series of lenses and turned into a depth-of-field button on the side of the lens, so a DOF button is a common feature on these lenses.

But, in fact, not all lenses in the MC ROKKOR series were MC, and some were not even automatic. Another important feature of this new series of lenses was the standardized filter threads.  Most lenses in this series were now 55mm or 72mm.  This is very important if you own a large number of lenses or use a lot of filters.   

These lenses were designed for cameras without aperture displays in the viewfinder.  As a result, the f-stop rings on a few of these lenses are not always placed close enough to the camera body to display the f-stop in the viewfinder (assuming the camera has an f-stop display).  You can identify these lenses by the front panel around the lens (see above).  The abbreviation "MC" appears before the word "ROKKOR" and both are marked in white.

These lenses were designed for cameras that have TTL meters.  To use, the aperture and shutter speed dials are adjusted until the needles in the viewfinder match, and the exposure is taken.  These lenses will work fine on earlier and later cameras.

In sum, the major changes on these lenses were (not all lenses had these):

1966-1972
THE TIME PERIOD OF THE MC ROKKOR LENSES

FOCAL LENGTH f-STOP RANGE LENS INSCRIPTION VIEW DESIGN FILTER THREAD DIAPHRAGM MC MD CLOSE FOCUS SIZE WEIGHT
16mm 2.8-16 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC UW ROKKOR - OK 1:2.8 f=16mm 180 11/8 built-in auto yes no 1' 2.5"x2.9" 15.6oz.
21mm 2.8-16 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC W. ROKKOR - NL 1:2.8 f=21mm 92 12/9 72 auto yes no 10" 2.6"x2.9" 15.6oz.
28mm 3.5-16 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC W. ROKKOR - SG 1:3.5 f=28mm 75 7/7 67 auto yes no 2' ? 8.6oz.
28mm 3.5-16 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC W. ROKKOR - SG 1:3.5 f=28mm 75 7/7 55 auto yes no 2' ? 8.6oz.
28mm 2.5-16 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC W. ROKKOR - SI 1:2.5 f=28mm 75 9/7 55 auto yes no 1.75' ? 12.8oz.
35mm 2.8-16 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC W. ROKKOR - HG 1:2.8 f=35mm 63 7/6 52 auto yes no 1.3' ? 7.6oz.
35mm 2.8-16 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC W. ROKKOR - HG 1:2.8 f=35mm 63 7/6 55 auto yes no 1.3' ? 7.6oz.
35mm 1.8-16 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC W. ROKKOR - HH 1:1.8 f=35mm 63 8/6 55 auto yes no 1' ? 14.8oz.
55mm 1.9-16 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC ROKKOR - PF 1:1.9 f=55mm 43 6/5 52 auto yes no 1.5' ? 7.9oz.
55mm 1.7-16 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC ROKKOR - PF 1:1.7 f=55mm 43 6/5 52 auto yes no 1.75' ? 7.9oz.
58mm 1.4-16 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC ROKKOR - PF 1:1.4 f=58mm 41 6/5 55 auto yes no 2' ? 7.6oz.
58mm 1.2-16 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC ROKKOR - PG 1:1.2 f=58mm 41 7/5 55 auto yes no 1.5' ? 1lb.
85mm 1.7-22 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC TELE ROKKOR - PF 1:1.7 f=85mm 29 6/5 55 auto yes no 3.3' ? 1lb. 2oz.
100mm 3.5-22 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC ROKKOR - QE 1:3.5 f=100mm 24 5/4 52 auto yes no 1.3' 3.5"x2.9" 1lb. 3.4oz.
100mm 3.5-22 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC TELE ROKKOR - QE 1:3.5 f=100mm 24 5/4 52 auto yes no 4' ? ?
100mm 2.5-22 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC TELE ROKKOR - PF 1:2.5 f=100mm 24 6/5 55 auto yes no 4' ? 14.4oz.
100mm 2-22 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC TELE ROKKOR - PF 1:2 f=100mm 24 6/5 62 auto yes no 4' ? ?
135mm 3.5-22 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC TELE ROKKOR - QD 1:3.5 f=135mm 18 4/4 52 auto yes no 4.9' ? 14oz.
135mm 3.5-22 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC TELE ROKKOR - QD 1:3.5 f=135mm 18 4/4 55 auto yes no 4.9' ? 14oz.
135mm 2.8-22 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC TELE ROKKOR - PF 1:2.8 f=135mm 18 6/5 55 auto yes no 4.9' ? 15oz.
200mm 4.5-22 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC TELE ROKKOR - PE 1:4.5 f=200mm 12.5 5/5 52 auto yes no 8' ? 1lb. 1.6oz.
200mm 3.5-22 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC TELE ROKKOR - QF 1:3.5 f=200mm 12.5 6/4 62 auto yes no 8' ? 1lb. 9.4oz.
300mm 5.6-32 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC TELE ROKKOR - PE 1:5.6 f=300mm 8 5/5 55 auto yes no 14.8' ? 1lb. 9.7oz.
300mm 4.5-22 MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN MC TELE ROKKOR - HF 1:4.5 f=300mm 8 6/6 72 auto yes no 15' ? 2lb. 8.5oz.
800mm 8--- MINOLTA LENS MADE IN JAPAN RF ROKKOR 1:8 f=800mm 3 8/7 special fixed no no 26' 5.8"x4.9" 4lb. 5oz.

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