Minolta AF 100-300mm F4.5-5.6 APO A-mount lens review by transiently

reviewer#12104 date: Jan-23-2015
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: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:100-300 non APO
75-300 big beercan
Canon 75-300, Canon 100-300 L
Nikon 75-300 AF from c 1990
Canon 70-200L
Minolta 70-210/4
etc
price paid:Only about 60 GBP
positive:Pleasing sharpness at most focal lengths.
Only very, very little purple fringing - far less than all the other Minolta competition, and far less than most telezooms.
The size and weight are so low that it is not hard to carry and balances quite well on the A37 camera.
negative:Noticeably poor edge sharpness at the short end of the range.
Not ideally sharp at 100mm even when stopped down considerably!
The bokeh is rather distracting. Unsurprisingly (but slightly disappointingly) lacks the knock out colour of first series Minolta AF lenses.
comment:Interesting lens whose appeal for me is based on its combination of low weight, small size, fairly low price, and decent optical performance, particularly at 300mm. Without any one of these, I would probably be more tempted than I am by a newer lens.

Sharpness by focal length follows somewhat that of much older zooms ie its focal length extremes perform less well than the centre of its range. However, most or all the Canon, Nikon, and other lenses of this age and type that I've used have been excellent at their short ends, with a gradual deterioration with increasing focal length. This one is clearly weakest at its short end. 300mm is noticeably a little less good than, say 250, but for use at long focal lengths, I think this lens holds up better than most of the competition.

Between about 135 and 250, I'd say it was definitely a good performer wide open across the cropped frame, although even in this range, there is a noticeable improvement to be had by stopping down even 1/3 of a stop.

Compared to the non-APO, this has most of the same optical characteristics, particularly the poor performance at 100mm, but with very much less of the purple fringe problem that can afflict that lens (and most other telezooms) against bright light. I think this one has slightly more colour saturation and have a general feeling that when it's good, it's even better with this one than the cheaper lenses.

Compared with the big beercan, *that* lens has even better colour, less bad bokeh, slightly less sharpness at, say 135-300, MUCH more purple fringing, and nearly twice the size and weight.

This is a "good enough" lens which happens to have an ideal form factor for a lens to carry around.

I have read from an authoritative source that this lens and the 100-400 APO (and presumably the standard 100-300 and some others) were made for Minolta by Tokina. I don't know whether the design was by Minolta and only the manufacturing outsourced, although I do know that these designs were ONLY sold as Minoltas, and never under any other brand. (Unlike, for example, the Cosina-sourced Minolta MD-fit lenses from the late 1980's, which appeared in all sorts of mounts and brands).

My sharpness rating hovers between 4.5 and 4. It's a more than fairly sharp lens considering its age, size, price and focal length.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 69
  • sharpness: 4.20
  • color: 4.58
  • build: 4.00
  • distortion: 4.51
  • flare control: 4.26
  • overall: 4.31
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