Minolta AF 100-300mm F4.5-5.6 APO A-mount lens review by addicted2light

reviewer#32727 date: Dec-5-2016
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 3
distortion: 5
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: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Contax Zeiss 18/4 Distagon; Contax Zeiss 25/2.8 Distagon; Contax Zeiss 35/2.8 Distagon; Contax Zeiss 50/1.7 Planar; Contax Zeiss 60/2.8 Makro-Planar; Contax Zeiss 28-85 Vario-Sonnar; Contax Zeiss 100-300/4-5.6 Vario-Sonnar
Canon EF 24/1.4 L; Canon EF 50/1.8 STM; Canon EF 135/2 L; Canon EF 24-85
Fuji 16-50 XC; Fuji 55-200 XF
Hasselblad 50/4 Distagon; Hasselblad 80/2.8 Planar; Hasselblad 250/5.6 Sonnar
Leica R 180/4 Elmar
Minolta M-Rokkor 28/2.8; Minolta M-Rokkor 40/2; Minolta M-Rokkor 90/4
Minolta 24/2.8 MC (55mm filter size); Minolta 35/1.8 MC; Minolta 50/1.7 PF MC; Minolta 100/2.5 MD; Minolta 200/4 MD; Minolta 28-85 MD
Minolta 50/1.4 AF; Minolta 100/2.8 AF Macro
Nikon 18/3.5 Ai; Nikon 20/4 UD; Nikon 24/2.8 AF; Nikon 35/1.4 K (pre-Ai, 9 rounded blades); Nikon 35/2 Ai & AF & Nikkor-O (pre-Ai); Nikon 50/1.4 AF; Nikon 50/3.5 Micro-Nikkor (pre-Ai); Nikon 60/2.8 AF Micro-Nikkor; Nikon 85/1.8 AF; Nikon 180/2.8 AF ED; Nikon 200/4 Ai; Nikon 300/4.5 Ai ED; Nikon 70-180 AF Micro-Nikkor; Nikon 80-200/2.8 AF; Nikon 100-300/5.6 Ai
price paid:80€
positive:+ Sharpness once stopped down
+ Colors
+ Compact
+ Lightweight
+ OOF rendering ("bokeh") @ 300mm wide open
+ 55mm filter ring
+ Low contrast (read the comments)
negative:- Not particularly sharp wide open (but still decent)
- "Too light", can suffer from shutter shock on the A7r
- Low contrast (read the comments)
comment:Reasonably small and unobtrusive, lightweight and with an handy 55mm filter size.

At least on the (demanding) Sony A7r it's not that sharp wide open at 300mm (still decent though), but once you stop it down one or two stops it shines.

Because of the "old style" coating, it needs quite a bit of clarity to "recover" the lost contrast. But with 20/30 points of clarity the rendering is indistinguishable from a more modern lens. This in my book is actually a good thing, because low contrast means less risk of loosing either highlights or shadows. Contrast is like salt: you can add it later easily, but removing it is nearly impossible, so better start low.

Incidentally, because it's so lightweight, on the A7r it will suffer mighty from shutter shock (I solved this jamming cork strips between the L-bracket and the base of the camera; they work dampening the vibrations).

From what I've heard there might be quite a bit of sample variation, but at least my copy two stops down is the first lens I ever had* that it is essentially (as in "you can barely see the difference squinting at 100%") as sharp as the Contax 100-300 Vario-Sonnar (at the same aperture, obviously).

*The Fuji 55-200 is up to the task as well, but the sensor is much lower in resolution compared to the A7r

True, the Vario-Sonnar keeps it up even wide open, but for shooting landscapes I will gladly trade off performance at f/5.6 for substantial weight & size gains.

I bought one just as a lightweight alternative to the Contax, but after seeing the kind of performance it was delivering I immediately covered all the other focal lengths I needed with Minolta AF glass and an LA-EA4.

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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