Minolta AF 135mm F2.8 A-mount lens review by asiafish

reviewer#11005 date: Mar-29-2013
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 3
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 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:100/2.8 Macro, 85/1.4 original, Leica Elmarit-R 135/2.8.
price paid:350 used (mint)
positive:Fabulous Minolta color, very good bokeh, sharp.
negative:Flares easily, only f2.8.
comment:135mm was the very first accessory lens I purchased as a teenager (K-Mart Focal 133/2.8 for Minolta MD - Kiron made) and as such was my first exposure to shallow depth of field and compressed perspective. As a teenager, I didn't appreciate quite what I had (that lens and SRT200) and moved on to an X570 and some cheap zooms, trading quality for convenience.

My favorite lens on APS-C and full frame digital has been and remains the 85/1.4 (original, non-G) which is the ultimate cream machine with bokeh to die for. One reason I liked that lens so much on APS-C was that it was very close to the 135mm focal length perspective on full-frame (film) that I remembered so fondly. So, once I had my A850, it was time to find a good 135mm lens and before spending $1700 on the Zeiss, I thought I would give the old Minolta a try. KEH had one in LN- condition (absolutely flawless, by the way) for $350, so I bought it.

The lens does not dissapoint, and while the bokeh is not in the same league as the 85/1.4, I wouldn't expect it to be given the relative position in the original lineup and the original prices of the two lenses. Where the 135 really surprised me was its sharpness, which is fully the equal of the 85, as well as that luscious Minolta color, which to me appears identical. The 135 is also considerably smaller and lighter than the 85 as well, making it, the 50/1.4 and 28/2.8 my regular travel 3-lens travel kit.

For film I currently use the Leica R system with latest version 35, 50, 90 and 135mm lenses (all f2.8 except for 50/2.0). While film and digital have very different looks and I shoot exclusively black and white film, I can somewhat compare sharpness, rendering and bokeh between the Leica and Minolta 135s. The Leica is definitely softer (the Minolta is clinically sharp), but has better bokeh. Surprisingly, the difference is less than I expected it to be.

While the Minolta 85/1.4 remains my best portrait lens with the best bokeh I've ever captured, I honestly use the 135 a lot more due to its compact size and light weight. I could only keep one telephoto lens for any camera, it would probably be the Minolta 135. Its not as nice as the 85, but its close enough.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 136
  • sharpness: 4.70
  • color: 4.92
  • build: 4.68
  • distortion: 4.92
  • flare control: 4.45
  • overall: 4.73
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