Minolta AF Reflex 500mm F8 A-mount lens reviews

reviews found: 78    1 2 3 >>
reviewer#11921 date: Jul-27-2014
sharpness: 3.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 5
overall: 4.3
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta/Sony 300mm f/2.8 SSM G
price paid:No longer remember.
positive:I have owned this lens for many years. The introduction of the A77ii has breathed new life into it, because suddenly it's now possible to focus.

It's light weight.
negative:Not as sharp as my best lenses.

Hard to focus unless it's on the right camera.
comment:This lens fell in disuse because I was consistently disappointed with the photos I was getting from it. I was unable to achieve critical focus. When I put it on my new A77ii, for the first time I discovered that I was able to focus it and got reasonably good photos.
reviewer#11578 date: Jan-3-2014
sharpness: 4
color: 3
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta 75-300 F5.6
Beercan, wide zoom
8,24,50mm primes




price paid:450us, used KEH
positive:Short, light, unobtrusive, hikeable/bikeable.
negative:Background - watch the bokeh.
As its well over 300mm it needs some stabilization or lots of light/fast shutter.
comment:I like the lens a lot. Bought it as much to experiment with as anything else. I knew I wanted stabilization and auto focus as everything else had complaints about focus, blur or finickyness of some sort. Good move. The lens on my little a55 can be used handheld which puts it way ahead of the other mirrors. Portable.

Autofocus sometimes hunts but so does the 75-300. F8? I just crank up the ISO.

Any lens at F8 (about T11) will be dark in optical viewfinders, This mirror lens really shines with electronic viewfinders and stabilization on my Sony A55.

I actually tried it in studio with a controlled background. You have to get back 14 feet but there is absolutely no CA visible.

I have to admit bokeh can be a issue in the field. You have to be careful or you get a busy or worse, really distracting background.

Here's a trick for bright days. Cut a black paper disk that will just sit inside the lens shade. Cut a one inch round hole into the side of the paper, sort of like a crescent moon shape and place it inside the lens shade. With the lens shade mounted with this vignette you will get perfectly round bokeh - not donuts in the background. Of course it's now a F8 lens with a T rating of maybe T32 but it works.








reviewer#11519 date: Dec-3-2013
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 3
overall: 4.2
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:- Tamron 70-200 (Longest lens I own other than this one)
- Tamron 70-300 USD (Longest lens i've used other than this one)
price paid:450 USD (KEH - used)
positive:- Reach
- Size
- Weight
- AF!
- No CA
- Unique bokeh
negative:- Unique bokeh
- requires special filters that are expensive to replace if lost
- Poor hood
- Requires *huge* filters
- Fixed f/8 aperture, changeable only with the NDX4 filter
- Focus ring rotates during AF
comment:This is a very unique lens that takes a bit of practice to use well. It pretty much requires a tripod, or very steady hands. Any excess motion will noticeably degrade the sharpness of the final image.

The design is unique, and it's the only reflex lens that can AF, and the only sony or minolta lens that can AF at f/8 (f/5.6 is the normal limit)

Because of the unique design, there are some tradeoffs:

- Fixed f/8 aperture, changeable to f/16 with a compatible NDX4 filter.
- Donut bokeh
- uses expensive drop in filters ($100 to replace if lost, but not required to *use* the lens on a camera)
- Only allows the use of the center AF point

But for that, you get a super compact and light 500mm lens at a very affordable price (considering the Sony 500/4 G is $13k) that's plenty sharp and completely free of CA. Every sony user should at least try this lens. Donuts (and they're not *that bad*) aside, this is the only AF reflex lens in the world, from the mind of Minolta. Snag it for a good price, and don't look back.
reviewer#11266 date: Jul-24-2013
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 3
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: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:70-200G
price paid:350 EUro (sec. hand)
positive:Weight, size, build, price, inconspicuous, bokeh (creative), AF (it has it)
negative:Sharpness, AF (misses sometimes), bokeh (clean), concentric light fall-off
comment:I own this lense for a day now, took the summer afternoon of yesterday and went to the beach with just this lense.
So maybe not a full review, but a prepared, dedicated session with this lense.
Before buying this of local *bay I read all your reviews, very useful. Also before buying, I had the chance to play with the older Minolta Reflex without AF, that was a challenge indeed.
Just taking this lense to a crowded beach makes you realise how small the field is, sometimes I had to walk for two minutes to get something properly in the frame. With a hyperfocal length of over 1,5 km this is not a walking-around lense.
But what fun! People at beaches do not always want to be photographed. Especially if you wave a big white (70-200G) in their face. With this lense I just walked 200 meters further and nobody noticed me anymore.

Some setup info: Mounted on a A77, in S-mode fixed on 1/1000s. Auto-ISO did the rest. Nice setup for hand-held operation I think.
AF (being unique to this lense), improves the usability enormously. Better said in reverse: this lense without AF renders the usability of walking-around, hand-held shooting to virtualy zero.
Getting manual focus is so difficult. The slightest turn of the focus ring sets you off. Holding it that steady that you will get a still preview to focus on is almost impossible. I even had a glass of Pernod before lunch in order to stablizi my arms:-)
AF is center only, which is no problem especially due to the very narrow view.
AF works, but not nearly as fast as a motorised lense. But not always. In my beach session I had a 1 in 7 miss not due to human error.
Sharpness is fair/good, but not at all like the 70-200G, which cannot be expected ofcourse.
Light fall-off: Not very noticable at full quality, but I posted some foto's on Facebook (which compresses rather blundly) and there you see concentric light fall-off very clearly, so the tendency must be there.

I wanted something above 200mm. I could have spent my money on a 1.4 or 2.0 TC for the 70-200mm or buy this.
I think I made the right choice, the lense and me are going to be great friends!

Conclusion: If you are in need of a long lense and you are not contracted by National Geographic so you can't buy the SAL-500F4G, buy this one second hand. Lots of fun, if not in controlling this beast.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ronaldc5/sets/72157634775977261/


reviewer#11139 date: May-24-2013
sharpness: 3.5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.1
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:€ 499 (new)
positive:Size
No CA
Weight
Low cost 500mm solution
negative:Bokeh
Contrast
Sharpness
Fixed arpeture, so no DOF control
comment:This lens is of course a bit of an odd duck, being a reflex lens. You have all the characteristics of a reflex lens: less contrast, chance on donut bokeh (which can be pretty horrific), fixed arpeture (meaning no DOF control). The fact that is f/8 is not much a problem nowadays, but be prepared to pump up the ISO under less bright circumstances.

On the other hand: it is compact and light weighted, so easy to add to your camera bag, without adding lots of bulk and kilos. Better to have this lens with you than no 500mm lens at all. As somebody stated: "a mediocre lens on your camera makes better pictures than your high quality lens in the closet". Not that this lens is mediocre, on the contrairy, it performs quite well. You just have to get used to the limitations and quirks of a reflex lens.

The focus works well. Not extremely fast, but hey, at least you have AF on this reflex lens: the only one of it's kind! For manual focus: beware that the focus goes beyond infinity.

I am a little sceptic for using this lens for birding. Pictures are not as sharp as you would like and contrast is low (although it can be corrected nicely in pp). Also, unless you have a sunny day, you must use high ISO because a long exposure time is unlikely with birding.
reviewer#10888 date: Feb-1-2013
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.7
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:In a class all to it's own. Who else makes an AF Reflex lens?
price paid:
missing
positive:Light weight to reach ratio.
Build is solid.
Sharp focus.
Fast Focus.
Fun to use.
Unique Bokeh.
negative:Unique Bokeh.
comment:I love this lens. I find myself taking it everywhere I go. It's light. Focuses fast, accurate and sharp. I really like the unique Bokeh when I don't get the doughnut rings. I don't get the doughnut rings very often. I hope every Minolta/Sony shooter will have the opportunity to own or at least try one of these. Minolta did something really special with this lens. Thanks Minolta.
reviewer#10885 date: Jan-31-2013
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 3
overall: 4
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:MinO 100-300
SONY 70-200 SSM + 1.4 TC
Tammie 70-300 DI LD Macro
price paid:$400 USD (Fleabay)
positive:Very light and portable. Easy to hold and feels good on A700/A99 w/Grip. Great reach (obviously).
negative:Takes some skill to handhold and keep steady. Razor thin DOF at any close distance.
comment:Shoots just fine but you have to concentrate to try and shoot it handheld. If you have the option a tripod is totally recommended but I rarely use one. It requires good technique. Many times shots will come up a little short on saturation and contrast so you have to up them in PP. Vignetting is pretty pronounced on FF but OK on APS-C.


Due to the reach, light weight and compactness it has earned a special place in my heart and my bag.
reviewer#10796 date: Dec-22-2012
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 5
overall: 4.5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:70-400, 135 1.8, 200 2.8
price paid:410.00
positive:Sharpness, automatic focus, small form factor, excellent range, price., lack of chromatic aberation, lasting appeal.
negative:Nothing
comment:First off let me say I own some nice glass. My pride and joy is my 135mm 1.8 planatar zeiss and it is every bit as good as the reviews. I wanted a telephoto for nature shooting and plan on picking up a 200 2.8 when this caught my eye. Thought I'd take a chance and purchased one off ebay. First thing I noticed was how rediculously light, small and unobtrusive it is. It can fit in my sholder bag no problem and compared to other 500mm primes is 1/6th the size.
When I took it outside for the first time I had no expectations other than length. In broad daylight the pictures were more than acceptable.. It went right to work and I'm amazed at how clear the images are although a bit soft. The automatic focus is pretty good, although it hunts a bit in low light. . I just let it do its thing and then put it in manual mode when I need to keep itlocked in place.
The iris blur I find to be pleasing and found myslef trying to replicate this unusual effect this unique lens creates. It's rarely a distraction. This might be one of minoltas best kept secrets and it is a shame more people haven't given it a try. Inside use it's useless do to the f8 aperature, but who the hell needs 500mm inside.
Which brings me to my next point. I shot all day up until sundown right when the sun was going over the horizon...guess what, I was still nailing shots away with this thing. Unless you do indoor sports or theatre photography then I'd say this is a must have. I mean, come on. 500mm in a light package WITH the only AF on a caterdioptic lens ever made for under 500 dollars! That's just plan perfect if you ask me. Extremely useful, cheap as hell, excellent images for the price and fun fun fun. Its just plain awesome.

Update 7/29/13:
I still have this lens and use it quite often. Most of my pictures are at the beach or off the porch during sunset capturing birds. Its still a solid lens, and I even had the chance to take it to Scotland this past year. But, to get the best out of it you need to keep the ISO low. Thats because the pictures are soft to begin with- add to that a lot of noise and you end up with a disappointing photo. My issue tends to be the solftness and noise. Once the sun tucks itself behind the clouds your pretty much screwed. You can still get some great shots, but the noise is pronounced and forget about moving targets. While my optimism is slightly less than when I first bought it, I still think its a fantastic bargain. The trick is knowing the conditions that allow it to shine. But the more nature I shot the more I want to capture objects and animals in motion. Its very difficult with this lens.
The other issue is the focusing. It does work, but It hunts a lot. I usually turn it off and manual focus- works well with sony's "peaking feature" and allows me to capture some movement of birds as the fly away from a stationary position I've already focused on.
You can't beat the price and unser the right conditions the pictures can be very good- even the bokeh. Its just very limited when motion is a factor when you need full on daylight. I'm looking at the new sony 70-400mm SSM II or maybe a minolta 300mm prime with a teleconverter.....all much much more expensive. I still plan on holding on to this though as I like the size factor and using it when the conditions are ideal.
reviewer#10679 date: Nov-9-2012
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.7
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:299 GBP
positive:Lightweight, compact, gets the competition staring
negative:none
comment:I have been after one of these for a good few years now and have missed out on a few, but after succesfully buying one and giving it a good run at a local wildlife park, I must say I am very impressed with the results despite the day being overcast and having to shoot at iso 800.

On the A700 with battery grip, the combination is well balanced and does not ache around the neck after being carried for a few hours, at the moment I cant fault it.

to check out the results so far, please visit my flickr site where you will find a dedicated set.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/35699306@N04/



reviewer#10442 date: Aug-8-2012
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I have experience with this lens
compared to:Sigma 400mm
price paid:
missing
positive:Compact size and weight
Solid build
Interesting effects due to 'donuts' bokeh and centre only focus
negative:very soft on the edges, but thats not always a bad thing!
On the version i had, the clip/grip on the 'in lens' filter had broke.
comment:Absolutely loved this lens when i borrowed it for a couple of months, and have been hunting for one at a reasonable price ever since. This was on an A330, but also used one in a camera shop on my A77, and although its hard to compare, i believe the 2nd one was significantly sharper. This was however on a better camera with twice the pixels, and a different AF system.

As mentioned, the sprung clip that helps you remove the in lens filter was broken, but i imagine this was the owners fault.

Did however have some substance on the mirror. Could have been condensation, but didn't seem to disperse despite my attempts to dry it out, so may have been oil contamination from some internal parts. Probably worth lookin gout for before purchasing.

As is documented, its incredibly compact and light for the focal length and build quality/image quality, with some quirky image effects, like 'donut' bokeh and centre focus/soft edges. Plus it has AF, whilst the cheap 500mm mirror lenses available on ebay, etc do not. This lens is in another league compared to those, and worth grabbing if you have a chance!
reviewer#10261 date: Jun-4-2012
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:24mm f2,8
50mm f1.4
35-70mm f4
70-210mm f4
50mm Macro f2,8
100mm F2,8 macro
80-200mm f2.8
Sigma APO 300mm f4
Sony Zeiss 16-80mm f3,5-4,5
price paid:495 euro
positive:Compact size and lightweight for the long reach.
500mm mirror lens that has autofocus !!!, the only one of its kind .
Built like a tank
Huge focus ring

Sharp, very sharp,
No chromatic aberrations,
very good colour rendition, great colours and contrast,
fast and accurate auto-focus,surprising AF
almost no distortion.
good very detailed pictures






negative:close focusing distance,
sometimes doughnuts .
comment:I am very well impressed with this lens.
you get lots of focal length in a lightweight and small lens.
not to heavy, big but still very handy and easy to carry.
central hot-spot makes it easy to focus for me .

My copy is sharp even handhold, results with mono-pod /tripod are even better.
AF is very accurate and fast, flying birds requires practice .
Contrast is a bit less than other Minolta glass so color got 4 (in fact 4,5)
Bokeh is weird sometimes , I find the unusual bokeh not negative to me. Donuts can be avoided most of the time.


This is a great lens and with super steady shot active, it produces very well.
Even attached to an 2x teleconverter and although this will produce a focal length of 1000mm !

All in all, this is much more compact to my Sigma, meaning that I carry it around more...it's superb !

Not longer in production, Sony stopped making this wonderfully lenses .
So if you can buy one , don't hesitate .
It's an adorable lens and it becomes a collectible item
reviewer#9842 date: Jan-24-2012
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.9
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony 70-300G
Tamron 200-400 LD IF
price paid:$325 CDN
positive:* Reasonable Sharpness
* Great Colors
* Light for carrying around
* No purple fringing
* Reach w/out drawing attention
negative:* Bokeh ( donuts, not a fan )
* hard to handhold
comment:On my A580, with ISO 400 I get 1/2000s easily in good light and ISO 800 1/500s on cloudy days when I go birding. This is ample speed to take SS off and get fast AF.

I find the IQ (IMHO) is equal to the above mentioned lenses at F8. As the lens is fairly light for its reach, I make sure to set my drive to 3 shot continuous and metering to spot and usually the middle photo is the keeper.

Overall, this is my first 500mm lens and first reflex lens, bought specifically for birding, for the price you wont be disappointed. A little unsharp mask and contrast boost helps.
reviewer#9778 date: Jan-11-2012
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:70-400G
price paid:400 euro
positive:Size
Weight
500 mm!
Overall quality
negative:
missing
comment:I use an A580 and have a 70-400G, which is great. Bought the 500 reflex because it is small, low weight, has even more mm and can make great pictures. I have read all reviews on this wonderfull site and really wanted to have this lens. You need to understand what a 500 mm f 8 reflex lens means and use it accordingly. I do use a Sonia 82 mm hood extension, which improves contrast. Recommended! For me, this lens is a keeper.
reviewer#9568 date: Nov-9-2011
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.2
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sigma 70-300 Apo, Sony 70-200/2.8
price paid:500$ (used)
positive:Compact/lightweight, Fast focusing, focal range, cheap!
negative:Slow aperture, AF hunting in low-light, uneven resolution - mostly poor, sometimes pretty good resolution, center AF point ONLY.
comment:Amazing lens that has and will not have any mach - there is no other 500mm lens you can put to the pocket (a big one :D). Its results are quite uneven, sometimes i got very sharp images with lots of detail, however mostly - rather soft photos. It may be due to my lack of experience with such focal lenghth, althought I've been using with for a year already. It may also be that it's rather old unit, which lost its calibration and some parts already got loose (focusing ring is slightly loose - i can move it slightly sideways besides rotating it).Quite resistant to flare but when light source is in frame - strange, "artistic" things happen ;) Al in all it's very interesting lens that provide you sometimes very artistic and unusual results (you can bring this 50mm anywhere, anytme!) and sometimes let you take some decent wildlife/sport shots - but it requires lots of experience! I'll never sell it! although if there was f:5.6 version I'd go for it - f:8 is pretty dark, also AF hunts in low-light because of slow aperture.
reviewer#9493 date: Oct-12-2011
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.7
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Zeiss 135/1.8
Minolta 70-210/4
price paid:300 GBP (used)
positive:price
sharpness
AF
weight
negative:F8
center spot AF only
rotating front element
lack of contrast
comment:Given the price, this is excellent glass. Unfortunately, unless a sunny day use tripod/mono pod (I bough one just for that) - hand shooting require 1:2k or less.
This lenses require training and specific conditions (lot of light) but when used correctly, this glass will deliver.
I used those for bird and outdoor sport shooting with great results. AF was reliable and pictures very sharp for sports, less so for birds - they are much more difficult target. Lack of contrast is visible but for nature shots it never was a problem. For industrial and portraits one, I was less pleased.

This is not in Zeiss league but outclass Minolta's Beercan. I like colors, probably just a tad worse then Zeiss/Beercan. I dont recomend MF those lenses unless you're on tripod.

I like donuts bokeh most of the time (might not appeal to all), and with careful framing they can be almost invisible - background need to be distant (30m or more). I used it as outdoor portrait lenses with pleasing results, fact that they are not as sharp as Zeiss is of benefit here.
With 500mm flare is hardly a problem unless U try to aim at sun.

Rotating front element is annoying since I tend to keep my hands on it, but people with smaller hands might not be affected as much.

UPDATE:
sharpness rating, cosmetic changes.
Contrast

reviewer#9442 date: Sep-23-2011
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:500 USD (used/mint)
positive:Size & weight
AF unique to A mount
Price
negative:Fixed F8
comment:OK, I love this lens! At only 665 grams (1.5 lbs) it can & does travel with me. It is hand-holdable on my a55 if there is decent light.

The 500 Reflex is almost enough of a reason to use A mount, as neither CaNikon nor anyone else has a similar lens with AF. And the AF works amazingly well. Indeed, this lens exceeded my expectations in IQ and every other way, and it is getting used more than anticipated.

Some people have complained about the donut bokeh, but to me, in the few situations when it shows up, it adds character not provided by other lenses. As the computer geeks say: it's not a bug, it's a feature.

The fixed F8 is a little tricky, but shutter speed priority works nicely in tough lighting situations. Also, the front rotates when this thing focuses, so a circular polarizer is almost out of the question; you could put an 82mm UV filter on for protection if that's your thing.

It is unfortunate that Sony stopped production on the 500 Reflex. You can find good used ones generally for about what I paid -- do so and you won't be disappointed. It is a unique and very special lens.
reviewer#9396 date: Sep-6-2011
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:100-400APO
price paid:175 euro
positive:Size & weight
AF
negative:Bokeh
comment:Very nice and compact lens. Well build and very sharp for a mirror. Bokeh can be distracting but one has to learn to shoot with it. Sold it because I'm not a bird watcher and I wanted more versatility in range.
reviewer#9244 date: Jul-19-2011
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.7
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:475 USD new
positive:Light easy to hand hold
Compact
Auto Focus
negative:f/8
wish it were a 100-500 :)
comment:
missing
reviewer#9141 date: Jun-16-2011
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.7
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:None
price paid:450 USD
positive:Weight
Bokeh, wonderful!
Priceing
negative:Seams a little bit weak and plastic i some ways.
Filter handling
comment:I like! The colours are great, and the weight makes it easy to carry around. I love the peanutshaped bokeh for out of focus areas, it makes this lens great for nature pictures.
Downside is the that the focusing can be a little bit slow. f8 stop. To get god pictures in lower light, or fast moving objects you really need a tripod or god support for freehand photos.Don´t use for moving motorsport pictures, its hard to use for moving birds as well, but if you catch one, you´ll be saticfied with the result, promise!
But the upsides is way ahead of this and i will never trade this one.
reviewer#8823 date: Mar-22-2011
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony 70-400G
price paid:
missing
positive:I find this lens to have beautifully warm Minolta colours. It is VERY sharp for a lens in this price range. The size and weight make it perfect for serious hiking or back country excursions, and the auto focus is an added feature not found in any other mount. Furthermore, due to its small size it can be better on a tripod in windy conditions where larger lenses with large hoods can become somewhat of a sail, contributing to softer images
negative:The constant F8 can be a problem in low light, and the slow auto focus can contribute to some lost shots. This lense is also the most difficult of lenses to use due it's quirkiness. Judging from the examples I have seen on this site, many people seem to forget this is a SPOT focus lense and requires a focus/re-compose workflow. It is also a 500mm and really works best on a tripod unless used in very bright conditions.
comment:I have always enjoyed using this lens but recently purchased a Sony 70-400G from a member on this site. I was going to sell the 500 reflex to help finance the purchase. Before I did, I thought I would do some comparison shots as I would not get the chance again after I sold.
I set up a still life under overcast morning light. I shot the Sony at 400mm F8, cropped the shots, and re sampled using both CS5 and Genuine Fractals 6 (just to compare).
I first made sure both lenses were focusing on the same plane, and took a multitude of shots turning my A900 off and on and refocusing to account for any errors. I picked the best shots for comparisons, and was quite surprised with the results.
After adjusting for slight exposure variations the RAW files were EXTREMELY difficult to tell apart. The Sony had much less vignetting in the edges and corners, but other than that, it took some extreme pixel peeping to differentiate between the two.
The irony behind purchasing the Sony 70-400, is that I am convinced more than ever to keep the 500. At less than HALF the weight and size, I have a renewed enthusiasm to use this lens even more.
reviewer#8713 date: Feb-28-2011
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 3
overall: 4.2
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Canon 400mm 2.8L
Canon 300mm 2.8L +1.4x TC
Adaptall 300mm 2.8 +2x TC
price paid:$420 USD
positive:low cost
low weight
small size
auto focus!
negative:low contrast (sometimes)
f8 aperture
long mfd
comment:This lens is one of the main reasons I switched to Sony from canon. Having a 500mm option for under $500 that has AF!
Can't use it when its dark, but I dont really find myself using it for anything but daytime shooting anyways.
It is a mirror lens, but donuts can be avoided in many instances with good framing. If not... well then just hope it isnt too distracting. This lens isnt as sharp as the canon super telephotos, but it doesnt cost nearly as much either.
Overall I would say it is acceptably sharp... and much better than most mirror lenses.
reviewer#8662 date: Feb-15-2011
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.7
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sigma 70-300 APO
Minolya 70-210 f3.5/4.5
Tokina 80-200 f2.8
price paid:€275,- (Mint)
positive:Weight, price, colours, AF, Minolta colours.
negative:- minimum focus distance
- almost razor sharp
- Bokeh
comment:I got this lens for taking pictures of birds. I was missing the length with my Tokina 80-200 and carrying the Tokina for a couple of hours gave me muscle pains the day after. I was not pleased with the sharpness of my Sigma APO, that is why I got the Tokina and eventually this 500 Minolta.

Compared to the 70-210 f3.5/4.5 it's not that sharp, but comes pretty close. I knew that this reflector lens was not sharp (according to reviews), but it still amazed me. Sharper as the Sigma APO and on the same level of sharpness as the Tokina f2.8!; when you get to know the lens. Its performes not at it's best when the sun is shining strong. On a cloudy day is comes to life. Amazing.

Very solid build, looks pretty damn good on an Alpha DSLR. I love it already, after owning it for just a week. This is one people should just play with in different lightning conditions, to get to know it. It is never going to leave my collection of lenses.

I started shooting RAW for the first time with this lens, in the past only shot Jpeg. I own it to this one to pull out just that extra bit of sharpness it deserves.

Just try it, you'll be hooked if you're a birds person.
reviewer#8632 date: Feb-7-2011
sharpness: 4
color: 3
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 3
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: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Tamron SP AF 200-500 F5-6.3 Di
Sigma 300 F4 Macro APO
price paid:336 Euro(used mint)
positive:Long range
negative:Long MFD(4m)
The ugly bokeh
To light to stabilize
Needs a lot of light(fixed F8.0)
Fixed 500mm is sometimes to long
comment:I bought this one to complement my Sigma 300 F4 Macro APO
because 300mm is sometimes to short for birding.

Problem with a fixed 500mm is that the subject is sometimes to close.

I sold both to finance the Tamron SP AF 200-500 F5-6.3 Di.
reviewer#8347 date: Dec-4-2010
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:I own other high end long telephoto lens like the 400mm F2.8 ,500mmF4 and the 600mm F4(all half sponsored ).
It exceed the performance of my other high end telephoto lens in Sharpness & in color too only losing out in contrast and focusing speed .
Even with the Minolta 300mm,400mm and 600mm it still exceed their performance in Sharpness and color too .This lens has been understated by a lot of reviewers as I do not trust any of them unless you use it and compare it side by side and using a good third party software to open their raw file .
This len's weakness is always in contrast and their aperture which is normal for a Reflex lens .
DSLR using it now is Minolta 7D ,Sony A350,A850 and A900 and all with their Power grip . On Film is Minolta XK Motor ,Dynax 9 and Dynax 7 .
price paid:550 -700
positive:This Lens Is a Gem .Its has its own Character.Using this lens for so many years has given me so many superb photos.
Recently just bought another 2 more sets for my backup .
Even the best Normal telephotos lens with Apo,ED lenses or whatever coating can never compare to a Reflex Lens in sharpness and color.
Check out those made by Mede and Questar for seeing the Moon and the stars .
Its so sharp and the color is tremedous .
Questar and Mede made from 1000mm to 1600mm .Hope that in the near future Sony will made one from 500 to 2000mm zoom (F5.6 or F11 ) with a Super Steady Tripod Mount and it will kill a lot of other lens manufacturer .LOL!!!!!!!!!!!
Impossible is always possible .Love the Donut Bokeh as this is one of the uniqueness of a Reflex lens and also to some High End German Lens too if anyone who own it.My 2 thumbs up for this very Solid and well made Minolta/Sony 500mm F8 Reflex lens(Made In Japan Only ).
Its EOL since 2010 April .
So if one can get it ,its a Gem and a collector item too.
Just buy it and shoot it .Bravo Minolta/Sony being ahead of anyone .
negative:The only downside is the contrast and the aperture .
Focusing speed is a bit too slow .But it can be compensated by using the contrast on the Minolta /Sony DSLR .Focusing speed does not bother me as I always used manual focusing Only. To me any lens even with the best SSM or AF-S whatever, I still trust my own eye and reflex as my eye focus faster than any focusing dslr system I have use until today.To use this Reflex lens ,its better to use a very good tripod or a Skimmer Sack and even with a Good powerful Flash and a Flash Extender to capture the objects due to the F8 aperture.
comment:Being a Photographer for so many years (35 years) and travelling around the world .This is a must tele Reflex lens for me in my bag.
It gives superb result and will never break your bank .
Superbly made and exceed in performance in many ways to other high end long telephoto lens in which I am owning it now .
Never read too much about reviewers point of views or even testing samples .
One have to try it and use a very good Raw software(CS 5 ,DXO or Silky Pix Pro) to open it and you will be amaze by the results this lens can produce !!OOps need to use also a very good Monitor(Eizo or NEC 24 to 30 inches ) ,Graphic (Nvidia Quadro FX 3800 or FX4800) card ,PC( workstation )or Mac(G5) with enough memory(24 gb to 48 Gb ) and last with a very good Monitor Profile Calibrator.
Thanks for sharing my experience and views on this Superb Lens made by Minlota/Sony .
Happy Shooting
Oldtimer
Singapore
reviewer#8318 date: Nov-29-2010
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:400 USD
positive:Light, quick focusing, great telephoto
negative:Aperture stuck at f8 due to the reflex part
comment:My new favorite lens! I used this for football, and the background is out of focus for nearly all my shots, making the player jump out of the pictures. Great size, great focal length, great price!
reviewer#8175 date: Nov-3-2010
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.6
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:$500
positive:Relatively sharp across the frame
Very small and lightweight
Zero CA
AF (Unique for a reflex lens)
Very little distortion
negative:Slow (F8 but its a trade off for the price and long focal length)
Images lack contrast
Hood is pretty useless
Doughnut shaped bokeh (to be expected for reflex lenses)
Can ONLY be used at F8
comment:This is a very unique lens in the Minolta/Sony line up due to the fact that it is the only reflex/mirror lens that is capable of auto focus. This lens is surprisingly sharp though lacks contrast. Due to the design of the lens the bokeh can be very distracting as they are shaped like doughnuts, but again because of the design it has zero CA. Though the trade off here for the small package and long focal length is the speed, it's widest and ONLY aperture is F8, due to the design it has no actual aperture blades in it so it cannot be closed down.

Overall this lens is very good for anyone that wants to enter the realm of super telephotos, though do not be deceived by its small package it is still a 500mm lens. That is the one thing people forget when using this lens, resulting in blurry unsharp images, it is still a difficult lens to handhold unless you shoot in broad daylight.
reviewer#7941 date: Sep-4-2010
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.3
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:270 USD (used)
positive:Sharp
Compact
Lightweight
negative:Slow (Constant F8)
Expensive filters
Inadequate stock hood
Bokeh
comment:Rating explanation:
Sharpness: This lens is sharp, but there are demonstrably sharper lenses on the market right now (70-400 G).
Color: Color is good, but contrast can be low and vignetting a problem depending on the lighting and scene.
Build: Build feels solid, but it seems that some parts might be easy to lose (filters, focus hold button thingy).
Distortion: Very little field distortion, no chromatic aberration to speak of.
Flare: Stock hood is not adequate for many lighting scenarios, use a beefed up DIY hood to resolve this problem.

Most people will complain of either the lack of light or the catadioptric bokeh characteristic of this type of lens. The lack of light is offset by increasingly sensitive and noise-free sensors in DSLRs, the bokeh might be improved by using apodization as mentioned by dumbasadoorknob below. If you've really got cash to burn, you can order the rear filter units from the large APO telephoto lenses and use them directly in this lens without further modification, but beware that they cost hundreds of dollars new.
reviewer#7940 date: Sep-4-2010
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Min 100-400/Var
price paid:usd 410 used
positive:Lightweight
Minolta colors
Simplicity
negative:Donut bokeh
Rear filters are unavailable
comment:This is an extraordinary, and underappreciated, lens. It is small for its reach, light, and dependable. The integral lens hood really works to exclude flare, there is no distortion, physically or in color terms, and it is comfortable to use. I sit in the backyard snapping squirrels -- and I can count their whiskers from 40 feet.

I bought it without the hood, and with only one rear filter, the neutral -- and spent a year looking for more. Not even available from Sony as far as I can tell. So I bought a few Nikons of similar proportions, but fractionally wider, and with a dremel, electrician's tape and a few circular NDs from very small video lenses, I created my own set of 2x, 4x and 8x. But this lack of support shows a lack of enthusiasm at Sony -- and the lens has now discontinued production.

There is a bokeh problem -- since donut bokeh is attractive only in special circumstances. So I tried apodizing -- using gratings, as astromers do, without success, and then using cutout circular ND filters on the front lens, sort of how the STF works, again without success. But I'm going to keep trying -- and I still think there will prove to be a work-around. It may involve mandelbrot edges to the rear filter -- and again, wouldn't it have been good for Sony to have produced a range of rear filters? It wouldn't be difficult to make a holder with a C-ring, and removable "lenses".

I've had bad results with 84 mm front filters in general, (probably since I've bought cheap ones,) but I really appreciate the recessed lens -- it never gets dirty. The leather hood is not needed.

This is a really enjoyable lens and does not in any way compare poorly with my 100-400, which is itself a formidable lens. I don't have a problem with the fixed aperture, since so much can now be done with ISOs and DRO.
reviewer#7905 date: Aug-30-2010
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.6
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Not comparable to other lenses
price paid:600 (used)
positive:Focal length
Weight & Size
Price
negative:Some vignetting
comment:This is a very interesting lens. Small, lightweight and with an awesome reach. Unfortunately, not tack sharp. I took the lens to a Airshow. We had overcast skies. It did work perfectly enough at F8 with ISO800 on my A850. Gave mee good results. In some cases better than the 70-300G SSM.

In total, a mixed bag. The sharpness is inconsistent. Sometime very good and sometimes bad. Maybe off focus.

Although not the very best lens around, for birding, probably this one is still excellent enough.

I would say 3 out of 5 shots are good
reviewer#7900 date: Aug-29-2010
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.1
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:450 AUD
positive:Light and sharp
negative:Slow focussing, vignetting
comment:I find it hard to keep a flying bird in focus using continuous focussing, once the lens loses the bird it takes a while to find it again. Overall I am very happy with this lens, after all who else makes a stabilised, AF, 500mm mirror lens? The vignetting varies from not noticeable to bad. I think the differences must be caused by the direction of the light. I cannot remove it satisfactorily with Lightroom.
reviews found: 78    1 2 3 >>

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 78
  • sharpness: 4.33
  • color: 4.37
  • build: 4.62
  • distortion: 4.82
  • flare control: 4.35
  • overall: 4.50

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