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Minolta AF 500mm f/8 Reflex A-mount Lens Review

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  • Editor




One could think this a bit of a novelty lens. When was the last time you heard that a mirror lens was top quality in image quality? On top of that, if you did want to use one, you were relegated to manual focusing.


The Minolta 500mm f/8 Reflex lens is a bit of an anomaly. It is a small lens, long focal length, and odd auto focusing. Reviews are by and large positive in this lens, so when I saw a copy of this lens on eBay, from Japan for a good price, I took the leap of faith to check this lens out and see if I agree with the internet consensus.




Let’s take that trip together, through review land and see what I think about this legacy a-mount reflex auto focusing lens.


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.






As most mirror lenses are, this is a wide in diameter and short in barrel length kind of thing. It is relatively light, though.


The aperture is fixed at f/8 do you really have only 2 exposure parameters to be concerned with, shutter speed and ISO.


The manual focus ring is toward the front, surrounded by a rubberized material. The ring does rotate when focusing. However, filters are utilized via a rear insert into the lens. My copy has both the clear filter as well as the ND filter.




The lens cap is a leather sleeve that fits over the outside of the front of the lens.




I think the lens balances well on the Maxxum 7D.

It seems a very well built and sturdy lens.




Weather Sealed

My guess is no here on weather sealing. I doubt a light sprinkle would hurt it, but you make the decision on what you think your gear can handle!




Image Quality

So here is what most want to know. I’m honestly shocked at the level of sharpness and clarity this lens possesses especially given the lenses age and the reflex/mirror design.


With the field of view of 750mm you’ll want to keep the shutter speeds up and utilize the IBIS. You are locked in at f/8 as a constant aperture, so this thing will be hungry for good light. This is especially true if you are using an older camera such as the one in this review. More modern sensors with better high ISO capabilities would give this lens even more usefulness.


If not for the background/bokeh characteristics in some situations, most would not know that the images you see here were taken with a mirror lens.





Focus is competent on this lens. I would say it is rather fast for the size of the glass it is throwing around.

Even on the Maxxum 7D, f/8 is no problem as long as there is sufficient contrast for the center auto focus point to lock onto.


It does hunt a bit and given the long focal length you may miss focus due to shake from hand holding.


It is a viable system when used within the constraints.




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 compatible body. I will say that the IBIS in the 7D is surprisingly good and I have been shocked at times what it was capable of providing in low light or in slower shutter speeds.




Bottom Line

Serving a specific purpose and used for that purpose, this is a great lens. Don’t know of too many other mirror / reflex lenses that are this capable, and no other that I know of that is auto focusing.


This is not something you’d want to carry with you at all times, but it does server a purpose and if you pair it to it’s strengths – you have a winner here. Keep in mind that the images above were taken with a 20+ year old DSLR. Imagine what more can be done with it when paired with a modern Sony body that has the capability of shooting cleaner, high ISO.


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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  • Editor

So not to cross post the same images - here is a link to a thread here that has some additional Minolta 500mm images.  See page 3.



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 months later...
  • Editor

Shot this lens at the Columbus Zoo today.  Still amazed just how well this Maxxum / Dynax 7D and the 500/8 AF lens works.  Did post process some of these high ISO images in Topaz Photo AI, but most are just RAW processed in Lightroom.

















  • 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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