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Minolta AF 28-135mm f/4-4.5 A-mount Lens Review


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Background


Based off some recommendations from friends on a forum, and research into various a-mount lenses, I found a great deal online for this 28-135mm f/4-4.5 Minolta AF.

 

Let’s take a ride together with this legacy lens from Minolta and see how it performs and how it stacks up against modern optics!

 

Disclaimer: All images were shot on the Minolta Maxxum 7D and processed in Lightroom and Topaz Photo AI. Images I shoot are to see what the camera/lens combinations are capable of. I rarely, if at all, publish out SOOC images. Please keep that in mind when reviewing the images.

 

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Handling/Size/Weight/Build


Based on it’s size, my initial impression was that it would be a light lens. It actually has some heft to it. Being metal, glass and rubber – it makes sense it would be a bit more substantial.

 

Holding the lens is easy as the size is just right. Your hand falls naturally to the rubberized zoom ring. Zooming can go from 28mm to 135mm in just a little over a quarter of a turn. Zooming feels like there is a catch at the 28mm end an then again at the 135mm end. In between, you can feel some dampening and almost a geared feeling as well. It is accurate and easy to set, but just feels very different than the modern lens designs that can be overly dampened or plastic-like.

 

A macro mode is present for this lens at 28mm and is activated by pressing the silver macro switch by your left thumb toward the front of the lens and then rotation the zoom ring toward the left and into a blue bracket. From there you can manually focus the lens to get your macro distances. I’ve had other Nikon f-mount lenses with systems like this and they work decently in a pinch when needed.

 

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My only big issue with the lens handling is the focus ring. The focus ring is set behind the zoom ring, close to the mount. It rotates when the lens auto focus’. The Maxxum 7D checks focus when powered on, so depending on how you are holding it, the camera and lens can torque in your hand. Same when normal shooting, depending on hand placement you may get torqued a little. Shooting portrait orientation, this has happened a few times, but nothing major.

 

Some people also stated that they were disappointed that the lens did not come with a lens hood, and ones they have tried caused vignetting at wider apertures. I was able to find a screw in metal lens hood from Fotasy on Amazon, and am glad to report that the hood causes no vignetting at any focal length.

 

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Weather Sealed


My guess is that this is probably not weather sealed, but given the way that legacy lenses and cameras were built, I doubt that a little rain or inclement weather would affect this lens at all. Please make your own decision on what kinds of shooting conditions you would feel safe in shooting this lens.

 

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Image Quality


So here is what most want to know. Yes, this is a sharp lens. Like, every aperture sharp. It is very difficult to determine the level of critical sharpness on the rear LCD on the Maxxum 7D. The first time I went out shooting with it, I did not chimp once. I figure, let me see where the chips fall when I get home.

 

To say that I was happy with the images when they popped up in Lightroom is an understatement! I could not believe the contrast, sharpness, and rendering that this lens is capable of…and on top of that all this coming from the “lowly” 6mp CCD sensor in the vintage Minolta 7D.

 

Even unprocessed RAW files, which is how I shoot the 7D, show the surprising (to me) acuity of this Minolta gem!

Check out the images in this review and check them out to see what I mean!

 

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Focusing


Focus is competent and quick on this lens. In low contrast situations, it did hunt some, but I put that more to the Maxxum 7D than this lens. Screw drive lenses of this era can be hit and miss and are largely dependent on the speed and power of the screw drive in the camera body.

 

Thankfully, the Maxxum 7D contains a powerful mechanism and even for a 20+ year old body it does quite well.

 

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OIS (Optical Image Stabilization)


This lens has no VR built into it. If that is a need , then pair this lens with an IBIS equipped a-mount body. With that said, the 7D IBIS works really well with this lens.

 

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Bottom Line


As a general walk about lens, this is a gem! Very sharp and character for most uses that many will love. It focus fast and confidently in moderate to good lighting, and a little sluggish in poor light or low contrast situations.

Even at 20+ years old, there is still life in these old camera systems.

 

Using older gear like this just goes to show how capable it still can be. If you are looking to experiment with great gear that is very good for most purposes (I would not pick this older gear as a first choice for sports or very low light, although – if you know what you are doing it could still work) this a-mount system is really good.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to jump fully into a-mount as an only system or switch to Sony as a main system. For under $500, I’ve been able to amass a-mount equipment that works well for street shooting or portraiture, and at one time was considered a flagship kit.

 

Bottom Line = Highly Recommend!

 

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See my content here:

http://www.visualohio.com | BESTLIGHTPHOTO BLOG | 500px Profile & Pics

 

I shoot Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax and Leica.  Probably not enough!  LOL

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  • 2 weeks later...

Interesting to see your articles and pictures of these older lenses.  It has reminded me that I did play with some Minolta gear in the mid-90's, film SLR's at that time.  They were work issue cameras.  It was around the time I decided to buy Nikon too.

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15 minutes ago, crowecg said:

Interesting to see your articles and pictures of these older lenses.  It has reminded me that I did play with some Minolta gear in the mid-90's, film SLR's at that time.  They were work issue cameras.  It was around the time I decided to buy Nikon too.

 

I was all set to buy a Minolta 404si on the day that I got my annual bonus in 2000. Then I walked into a different store selling cameras and was handed a Nikon F60 to play with. The rest is history. :) 

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  • 2 months later...
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A few additional images from a Zoo trip today (Columbus Zoo in Ohio).

 

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  • Like 2

See my content here:

http://www.visualohio.com | BESTLIGHTPHOTO BLOG | 500px Profile & Pics

 

I shoot Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax and Leica.  Probably not enough!  LOL

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