Arax MC 35mm F2.8 Tilt Shift A-mount lens review by AlexKarasev

reviewer#2066 date: Mar-27-2007
sharpness: 4
color: 3
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 3.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Pentax 6x7 75mm F4.5 Shift; Schneider 35/4 PA-Curtagon; Schneider 28mm f2.8 PC Super Angulon
price paid:425 USD (new)
positive:Sharp in the middle (I've seen 88 lp/mm on Kodak Technical Pan 25ASA B&W film), low distortion, very good build quality - "tractor-tough," as they say.
negative:The periphery of the imaging circle is less sharp than the center (as expected) - visible with extreme diagonal shifts in the corresponding corner of the frame. Color wise, the lens has a slightly warm cast. When wide open, underwhelming sharpness & contrast - but it's not a handicap in actual use, which is stopped down to f/6.7 ... f/11 for DOF reasons.
comment:Sample image:

ARSAT/Arax MC 35 is the only 35mm shift (and tilt) off-the-shelf lens available in the SONY/Minolta Alpha (AF SLR) mount. For shooting architecture, when conventional non-shift lenses would incur significant camera tilts, using this lens sure beats the "digital perspective correction" approach - e.g. shooting with a regular 24mm instead of 35mm and applying a trapezoid stretch, cropping, and perhaps some cloning to fill in the corners. I do not use the tilt function much (it's used to tilt the focusing/DOF plane relative to film/sensor plane).

Let's not split lp/mm hairs or theorize about unavailable optics or hypothetical situations, or regurgitate the standard "russian lens" commentary we've all heard before (tough but ugly build, surprisingly good but allegedly uneven optical performance). For Minolta/SONY AF SLR mount, in 35mm f.l., this is the only game in town. If you shoot interior or exterior architecture, this lens will give you the options you've been missing.

For the same application, I also highly recommend Schneider 28mm f2.8 PC Super Angulon. It's available in Sony / Minolta AF SLR mount from B&H or directly from manufacturer.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 6
  • sharpness: 4.17
  • color: 3.83
  • build: 3.83
  • distortion: 4.17
  • flare control: 4.17
  • overall: 4.03 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania