Minolta AF 100mm F2.8 Macro D A-mount lens review by Phil Wood

reviewer#44142 date: Oct-7-2018
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.8
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 50mm f2.8 & f3.5 macro. Macro zooms (beercan etc). Sony 85mm f2.8.
price paid:140 GBP
positive:Sharp, Minolta colours, ADI, 1:1, f2.8, full frame
negative:Focus can take a while.
comment:I have many lenses which claim to be macro, but no lens at this focal length or close that can come close to the 100mm D in terms of sharpness apart from the Sony 85mm f2.8. The Sony is as sharp and is better in terms of size, weight, flare, and focusing - well worth considering as an alternative if you aren't interested in the 100mm's macro capabilities. But, if you aren't interested in the macro why are you reading this review?

Many lenses have 'macro' in their name, but few macro zooms go closer than 1:4 - good for a flower shot but not so great for the bee on the flower, let alone the bee's knees. The 100mm is a great macro lens, it's focal length allows you to keep your distance (relatively speaking) from fearsome creatures like wasps - and they do look pretty fearsome at 1:1.

There are downsides. It's more difficult to use as a handheld macro than it's 50mm counterparts (also great ultra-sharp lenses). It's not as versatile as a 50mm (especially true on full frame cameras). It is a fairly hefty beast (though no worse than many others and not as substantial as many modern primes). The biggest problem I find is focusing, at the macro end I expect to be on manual, but I do like the convenience of autofocus on more distant subjects - most of the time it is fine, but I don't have many lenses that spend quite so often dithering about on my A77 before hitting the sweet spot. The lens does have a focus limiter to help with this, I really need to get used to using it!

To finish on a high - the build quality is excellent, built to last, and it is a great portrait lens, even on APS (but not ideal for the flattering soft focus look).

A definite keeper, this lens is going to get a lot of use.

PS. Mine came without a lens hood - thanks to advice on the Dyxum forum I purchased a JJC LH-007 hood via ebay for 8GBP. This is equivalent to the significantly more expensive Sony ALH-007 and fits the 100 D as well as the Sony 100mm macro (a rebadged 100mm D), the Minolta 75-100mm D and the Sony 75-300mm (another rebadging). The hood from the earlier 100mm/75-300 can be used but does not store reversed on the D as the D version is a bit wider in diameter.

Update (Oct 2019): I have now used this lens a lot on FF bodies (A900 & A99ii) - I did have some focusing issues on the A99ii, which I suspect were down to my ineptitude with the camera's absurdly wide range of focussing options! After a factory reset everything is fine and the 100D is again showing just how good a lens it is, well able to impress with the 42MP sensor. I am wondering if I have been harsh with my flare control mark.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 63
  • sharpness: 4.95
  • color: 4.98
  • build: 4.70
  • distortion: 4.98
  • flare control: 4.89
  • overall: 4.90
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