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

reviewer#9793 date: Jan-16-2012
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: 12MP12 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:870 USD (mint)
positive:Sweet, rich, true classic Minolta colors. Deep 3D contrast. Smooth and nice transition bokeh. Amazing sharpness at f2 to extremely sharp at f2.8.
negative:CA can be a bit strong in high contrast scene at f2. Stopped down to f2.8 gets rid of most CA. Minimum focus distance is quite long. Not suitable for macro.
comment:Tried with both A850 and A77, my copy back focuses a bit and requires -10 adjustment on the camera body. First impression with images taken with this lens is beyond expected sharpness at f2 and extremely sharp with micro details at f2.8. I can clearly see very fine thin hair and pores on the face of the model in natural light without flash and that photo is already downsized to 1024 pixels width!! If it's not sharp to you, it's more likely your copy back or front focuses, since DOF at f2 is very narrow, and back/front focus is very common for legacy glasses on newer camera bodies. Don't return this lens if you haven't checked this yet. Only A850 A900 and A77 can do focus adjustment so you should consider upgrading your body then selling this fine gems and regret later.

The colors of this lens are very classic Minolta style which can be described as sweet, deep, and richly saturated. But this lens takes it further and produce the kind of uniquely rich, deep colors I haven't found in other classic Minolta lens I have. The first instance I tried this lens made me WOW. The contrast is brilliant and almost 3D like. The subject in focus just pops up from the background. No need for post processing at all.

The other outstanding feature is the creamy and smooth transition of the out of focus background (bokeh). A lot of photographers asked me after seeing my photos if I used the lens with smooth focus feature. It's really just beautiful. I love the bokeh and sharpness at f2 and will not hesitate to shoot wide open. CA can be a bit strong so you should be careful in high contrast scenes and stop down to f2.8 to avoid the problem.

I'd prefer this one over the 135mm f1.8za for street candid, photojournalism, and travels for its portable size and weight that's half of that ZA. I wouldn't want to lug around 1.8 kilo of camera + lens with me on my trips. This lens is very hard to find, especially in mint conditions, and expect the price to keep rising.

If you come across one, just grab it while you can! You won't be disappointed. This is one of the best portrait/candid lens available in A mount.

See my photos with 100mm f2 on my Flickr collection at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lifeispixels/collections/72157628204412995/

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 72
  • sharpness: 4.94
  • color: 4.97
  • build: 4.88
  • distortion: 4.99
  • flare control: 4.60
  • overall: 4.87
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