Minolta AF 100mm F2.8 Macro A-mount lens review by eccles

reviewer#6483 date: Nov-28-2009
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.6
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 200mm HS G
Sony 70-400mm G
Sigma 105 EX macro
price paid:Ł325 UK
positive:Very sharp
Build quality
Nice bokeh
negative:Slow AF
No focus lock button
Small focus ring
comment:Compared to a previously owned Sigma 105 EX macro this lens is not significantly sharper on my A700. There may be a smidgin of extra micro detail with the Minolta but it is close. This is hardly surprising since both macro lenses are probably capable of equalling or outresolving the A700 sensor. But where the Sigma images were rather clinical looking with slightly lack-lustre colours, images with this lens have a 3D quality that is difficult to quantify. Out and out resolution just outperforms the Sony 70-400 zoom, which is a testament to Sony's prowess with the zoom being so close, and is too close to call when compared to the superb (and expensive!) Minolta 200mm.

When used for macro, AF is usually quite effective and accurate, although like most macro lenses, a little slow due to the long focussing range. The focus limiter helps here, and it can be set to go from 1:1 to 1:3.5 or from 1:4 to infinity. Focussing is quite noisy but no more so than other series 1 lenses.

Build quality, which is ultimately why I sold the Sigma, is superb with the Minolta, as is the case with most of the series 1 AF lenses. It appears to be constructed largely of metal, having a reassuring weight, although it only weighs 10g more than the RS and Sony versions.

The supplied lens cap is a bit of a nuisance as it has to be removed to turn the hood around from its reversed position. I swapped it for the centre-pinch design cap from my Sony kit lens as I hardly ever use the hood for that.

The 100mm Macro lends itself to extension tubes, still giving good results when focussed closer than designed. While Steady-Shot works fine for semi-macro subjects, as you get closer to, and beyond, 1:1 it becomes less apparently effective. This is because camera shake can be compensated by the sensor shift but small variations in focus cannot.

The lens serves as a very useful general purpose 100mm prime, although the AF speed can sometimes be a bit of a nuisance. Bokeh isn't quite up to beercan smoothness but considering the aperture leaves are not circular it is still pretty good. As a macro lens it is as good as anything else out there, with Steady-Shot at a fraction of the cost of image-stabilised Canikon equivalents. With a focal length that enables the bug hunter to get in amongst the undergrowth and shoot spectacular photos it is a cracking lens.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 81
  • sharpness: 4.96
  • color: 4.99
  • build: 4.81
  • distortion: 4.96
  • flare control: 4.83
  • overall: 4.91
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