Minolta AF 100mm F2 A-mount lens review by ithinkso

reviewer#24479 date: Jan-31-2016
sharpness: 5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 5
overall: 4.4
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta Maxxum 85 f1.4 AF (original version)
Minolta 50mm f1.7 AF (original version)
Minolta 100-200 f4.5 AF
Minolta 100mm f2.8 macro
price paid:£300GBP
positive:almost everything
negative:minimum focus distance
comment:I did not buy this lens because I needed a portrait lens. I bought it because I'm a minolta fan and I had the money. Logically, I should have spent the money on something useful that does not compete with another lens I already have (I dunno, like maybe a ring flash perhaps?), but there you go. What does logic have to do with anything?

Do I regret buying it? No.

To give you an idea of why, I've cheated and taken some quotes from the previous reviewers below, that I can now say I'm in complete agreement with.

"Everything what you can read about this lens is true. Get one if you can. " gsaronni

"Worth every penny" overeema

"I did not think I would find a lens I liked more for portraits than my Minolta 85 1.4 rs, but I may have." kozmo

(I don't have the rs version myself, I have the original "maxxum" AF version, but I know exactly what kozmo is saying.)

"It definitely lives up to the rating on this site" saxbike

"this lens is rightly legendary" dinadan.

100 f2 vs 85 f1.4

The 100 f2 cost me almost exactly half what I paid for the 85 f1.4. In terms of bang for buck the 100 f2 wins hands down all day long. At f2 at similar subject distances I find it very difficult to tell images from these two lenses apart. Having said that, of course, it cannot compete at f1.7, f1.6, or f1.4 and that really should go without saying. I have not stopped using the 85 f1.4, but I have found the 100 f2 is much more forgiving and much easier to use. The 85mm f1.4 has better minimum focus distance and I find that useful.

100f2 vs 50 f1.7

There is just no contest.

100f2 vs 100-200 f4.5

This really ought to be no contest, like putting a welterweight in the ring with with a heavyweight, but the zoom is surprisingly good. However, the quality of the prime lens is subtle and not always immediately obvious. Out of focus areas and transitions from in focus to out of focus areas is one place where you will see the difference, and just that extra "nth" sharpness. The 100-200 f4.5 has bang for buck in spades. Is the 100 f2 worth the extra £260? Well, yes. It is.

100f2 vs 100mm f 2.8 macro

This is really the most interesting contest in my view. Many would question the need for two lenses of the same focal length in ones arsenal. Again, in terms of bang for buck the 100f2 comes off second against the highly versatile macro which delivers great portraits at apertures of f3.5 or below. But wait a minute. People who have read this or my other reviews might realise my technical knowledge of optics is somewhat rudimentary. I cant pretend to know anything about "micro contrast" or circles of confusion. But I do know the f2 just has some extra finesse that the macro does not provide at portrait distances. In my opinion, the macro is pin sharp throughout the aperture range at macro distances (in the centre at least) but not as sharp as the f2 at f2.8 at portrait distances. Of course it cannot compete at f2, and I have tended to use the f2 wide open so far. Honestly, If i could only have one of these two I'd go for the macro as it is so much more versatile. Having said that, now I have the 100f2 I will not be doing portraits with the macro!

The only issue I have with this lens is the minimum focus distance. These days it would not cut the mustard. I suspect there are modern lenses available for a similar outlay that could outperform the Minolta 100mm f2, but who cares?

and to quote kozmo again, "Wow".

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 75
  • sharpness: 4.93
  • color: 4.97
  • build: 4.87
  • distortion: 4.99
  • flare control: 4.59
  • overall: 4.87
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