200mm f/2.8 MD Tele Rokkor
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For a lens designed to be used at wide open or near wide open apertures, light falloff, or 'vignetting' is also a critical factor. The term vignetting is commonly used to refer to when the corners of an image are obscured by something in front of the lens (eg. a filter or hood), but its correct use is to describe the gradual darkening of the corners of an image which often occurs at wider apertures.

The performance of the 200mm f/2.8 in this respect is shown below..

Vignetting Test




The lens displays minimal vignetting at f/2.8, reducing further at f/4 and virtually completely gone by f/5.6. It is noted that the level of vignetting shown above is very small, and would be unlikely to be noticed in general photography, except when shooting against an open sky. This is a great result for such a fast lens.

Chromatic Abberation Test
The full image used for the chromatic abberation test. Detailed crops (red rectangle) are shown below.




The lens displays chromatic abberation at all stops, albeit reducing slightly by f/5.6. Chromatic abberation is caused by the fact that light of different wavelengths focuses at different points, either before or behind the film plane. This results in the coloured fringing evident above. The development of apochromatic lenses ('APO') has helped address this in modern designs, with special elements designed to ensure that the light all meets the film plane exactly in alignment.

The chromatic abberation is normally manifested worst when you have a hard black line against a white edge. The fringing is only evident on prints of A3+ (13" x 19") and larger, and at that size, while evident on very close inspection, it is not noticeable from normal viewing distance.

Resistance to Flare Tests
This image was shot at f/4, with the front element of the lens in full sun. Note how despite the full sun on the front of the lens, contrast remains excellent.

The image above demonstrates the outstanding performance of the 200mm f/2.8 Tele Rokkor in terms of flare resistance and contrast. The simple structure of five elements in five groups enables the lens to have very few glass/air surfaces, and the multicoating has worked with this inherent advantage to achieve amazing results. Contrast of this lens is absolutely stunning - unlike many other lenses you will not have to run a curves mask in photoshop to make these images pop. For transparency shooters who don't have the ability to boost contrast in post-processing, this lens is the answer to your prayers.

Additionally, while I have not performed a specific bokeh test for this review, have a close look at the image above. This image was shot at f/4, and hence some of the highlights show the eight bladed aperture, but still the actual bokeh is excellent. This will be an excellent lens for portraiture where maximum separation is required between the subject and background.

Unlike with wide angle lenses, it is very seldom that with a telephoto lens you will actually get the sun in the frame. However, as the ultimate test of flare resistance, how does the 200mm f/2.8 actually deal with the sun physically in the frame?

Shot at f/8, with the full sun in the corner of the frame.
One of the reasons that telephoto lenses are not normally pointed at the sun is that it isn't the best practise if you value your retina! However, how did the 200mm f/2.8 perform? Well as can be seen the inclusion of the sun in the frame did result in contrast reducing flare, but interestingly, even this did not result in loss of contrast over the entire frame. Additionally, note that there are no other flare artifacts visible in the frame. I think that this result is actually a tribute to the flare resistance characteristics of this lens.
Performance with the 300-S 2x Teleconverter

One of the big advantages of having a 200mm f/2.8 is that with a 2x teleconverter you get a reasonably fast 400mm f/5.6. When using a teleconverter, normal wisdom is that you need to stop a lens down one or two stops to get reasonable performance. With a lens that performs well wide open like the 200mm f/2.8 MD Tele Rokkor, I was interested in seeing actually how it would compare when shot wide open with the 300-S teleconverter.

Lacking another 400mm lens to test the combination against, I decided to see just how much better the resolution with the teleconverter would be against a 200mm image that had been cropped. Given the 200mm with teleconverter would have a maximum aperture of f/5.6, I decided to compare like with like, and hence the 200mm was shot at f/5.6 as well.

Shot with the 200mm f/2.8 MD Tele Rokkor at f/5.6, scanned at 5400 dpi. (Fuji Reala).
200mm f/2.8 MD Tele Rokkor with 300-S 2x Teleconverter at f/2.8 for an effective aperture of f/5.6, scanned at 5400 dpi and downsized in Photoshop by 50%
As can be seen above, even with a high resolution scanner there is a significant resolution advantage to using the 300-S teleconverter as opposed to shooting without the teleconverter and then cropping the final image. I was actually very impressed by the quality of the 300-S teleconverter, and I plan to incorporate a test on it at some stage soon. Certainly, if you own the 200mm f/2.8 and do not own a 400mm lens, you owe it to yourself to invest in this converter.
This image was shot at f/2.8, and demonstrates the outstanding bokeh that the lens can deliver. It proves amazing for portraiture where separation from the background is sought.

The 200mm f/2.8 MD Tele Rokkor is a very fast, high performing telephoto lens designed for use at wide apertures. It features high resolution, excellent corner to corner performance, and minimal vignetting for such a fast telephoto. While it does suffer from some chromatic abberation (common with lenses of this era prior to the general use of APO glass), this is only noticeable at 'grain sniffing' viewing distances on very large prints (A3+ and above).

I personally believe that the 200mm f/2.8 MD Tele Rokkor is one of the real jewels of the Minolta manual focus system, and despite its high price (US$350+ on the used market), it is worth every cent.

Delicate Arch, Arches NP Utah, 200mm f/2.8 MD Tele Rokkor Film: Fuji Superia Reala
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