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

reviewer#25509 date: Feb-27-2016
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 3
distortion: 5
flare control: 3
overall: 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:Sony FE 85 F1.8
Tamron SP 85 F1.8 USD
Canon EF 85 F1.8 USM
Minolta MD 85 F2
Sony 85 F2.8 SAM
Tamron SP 90 F2.5 Macro
Canon EF 100 F2 USM
Minolta MC 100 F2.5
Minolta AF 100 F2.8 Soft Focus
Minolta AF 100 F2.8 Macro RS & D
Cosina 100 F3.5 Macro
Sony 135 T4.5 STF
Canon EF 135 F2.8 Softfocus
Vivitar 135 F2.8 Close Focusing
Minolta MD 135 F3.5
price paid:156 USD (used)
positive:Compact and solid
Internal focus
Little focus breathing
Flat focus plane
No distortion
Minor lateral CA
Nice smooth rendering
Generous 1/3 turn focus throw
Common 55 mm filter size
Easy to service
Heavy Axial CA
Small circular hood
Minimum flare control
Tiny, recessed, plastic focus ring
Reduced focal length with close focus
comment:Purchased and used five copies of this lens. The first was a beautiful looking early edition with crossed XX's. This lens is about the same size and weight as the Tamron SP 60 F2 Macro. It is much smaller than the older Vivitar Close Focus or the STF. On APS-C it acts like a 200 mm f/4 lens on full-frame. This was tied as the second cheapest Minolta AF lens when originally released in 1985. The original retail price was $140--the same as the 28 F2.8 and $35 cheaper than the 35-70 f/4. It now often sells for much more than those lenses. "JAPAN"

During my initial testing of the first copy many of the manually-focused, tripod/delayed timer pictures were blurred in the center, but occasionally one in a sequence was sharp. After a thorough dis-assembly and cleaning the lens seems to be more consistent. It may have been a slightly sticky aperture causing the blur. The second copy is much sharper at least as sharp as the 55-300 though with much less CA control. It does have better CA control than the MD 135mm F3.5 at the same aperture setting.

This the first lens I have had that shows very little change in field-of-view while focusing. At close focus it acts much longer than the end of the internal focus zooms like the 18-135 SAM and 28-135. The angle-of-view is a bit wider than the unit focus MD 135mm F3.5.

The built-in plastic hood is rather undersized and doesn't lock into place like the one on the Minolta AF 50 F1.7 RS.

The second performs well enough wide-open to consider it superior to the best zooms. The heavy axial CA can still be a problem. A modern design with similar specifications would be a nice alternative to the larger, faster 135 mm offerings.

Test chart comparison with 11 inexpensive zoom lenses.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 139
  • sharpness: 4.69
  • color: 4.92
  • build: 4.65
  • distortion: 4.91
  • flare control: 4.44
  • overall: 4.72
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