Minolta AF 100-400mm F4.5-6.7 APO A-mount lens review by QuietOC

reviewer#29643 date: Jul-31-2016
sharpness: 3.5
color: 4
build: 3
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 3.7
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony DT 55-300 F4.5-5.6 SAM
Canon EF 70-300 F4-5.6 IS II USM
Tamron SP 70-300 4-5.6 Di USD
Sony FE 70-300 F4.5-5.6 G OSS
Sony 70-300 F4.5-5.6 SSM II
Sony 70-400 F4-5.6 G SSM
Minolta AF 75-300 F4.5-5.6 BBC
Minolta AF 100-300 F4.5-5.6 APO/D
Sigma 150-500 F5-6.3 EX DG OS APO HSM
price paid:165 USD (used)
positive:Same retracted length as the 70-210 F4
Fairly light
Smooth, long-throw focus control
4X zoom range
Very little distortion
Sharper wide-open than the 100-300 APO lenses
Doesn't lose focal length with close focus
negative:Axial CA
Not very sharp
Heavy zoom action + zoom creep
Rotating/extending barrel
No tripod collar
comment:After many soft copies of the 100-300 APO, I am pleasantly surprised by the at least acceptable sharpness of this lens wide-open, but the CA is not as well-controlled as the smaller lens. The second copy may be slightly better than my first one. This lens originally sold for over $700 in 1995. It has generally been selling north of $250 recently on eBay. "JAPAN"

Several manufacturers have released 100-400mm zooms recently including Sony. Tamron and Sigma released their budget F6.3 versions in 2017. There is an older push-pull zoom available under several brands with the same range and maximum apertures which uses a smaller 67 mm filter diameter. David Kilpatrick stated that the Minolta 100-300 APO and the 100-400 APO zooms were Tokina designs. The Tokina model was only $230 in 1999--much cheaper than their older 80-400/4.5-5.6 and 100-300/4 ATX lenses.

On the A65 and A68 the maximum aperture is reported as f/6.3 at the long end instead of f/6.7 or f/7.1. The A65 reports f/5 at 135mm and f/6.3 already at 200 mm. The Maxxum 70 is more optimistic in the mid range reporting f/4.5 up to 135 mm and f/5.6 up to 300 mm where it switches to f/6.7.

It is sharper at 400 mm f/6.3 than the 100-300 APO is at 300 mm f/5.6. My impression is that it performs at least as well if not better optically than the Sigma 150-500 OS that I've tried. It is much sharper than the Sony 70-400 G SSM I tried. The focus plane is fairly flat across the zoom range, but certainly not as flat as the 70-210/4 or original 75-300/4.5-5.6 or the Tamron 70-300 USD. My copy of the Sony DT 55-300 is sharper on teleconverter than this lens is without one. Stopping the lens down to f/8 greatly improves the image quality.

Autofocus performance at 400 mm is similar to the xx-300 mm F5.6 zooms on a 1.4X TC, which is to say rather poor. It can autofocus quickly at 400 mm pointed at a bright light source, but it is very prone to hunting in typical indoor lighting. Autofocus seems to be accurate. Surprisingly the A65 will AF this lens with both the 1.4X and 2X Kenko chipped teleconverters all the way to out 800 mm F13. In actual use the AF is practically useless with the 2X, and very poor with the 1.4X.

Test chart comparison with xx-300 zooms.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 51
  • sharpness: 4.42
  • color: 4.63
  • build: 4.18
  • distortion: 4.63
  • flare control: 4.39
  • overall: 4.45
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