Minolta AF 17-35mm F3.5 G A-mount lens review by denikin

reviewer#4467 date: Dec-4-2008
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 3
overall: 4.4
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 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:
missing
positive:Exceptional distortion suppression (the BEST among all wide angel zooms so far made)
Build quality
negative:Flare (old version)
comment:Many people are complaining about this lens. People say that its image quality is very good, but not outstanding for its high price tag (especially in terms of wide-open sharpness). As you can see in the dyxum reivews, old reviewers tended to rate this lens very high, while recent ones are giving relatively low ratings. The reason is that the majority of the recent reviewers tested this lens on crop-factor Digital SLR cameras, while old reviewers used this lens at a film camera, which is full-framed.

Certainly, it would be a waste of money if you use this lens on crop factor DSLR such as a100, and a700. You won't see much difference between this lens and the much cheaper Minolta 17-35mm D (Tamron OEM), although its image quality is considerably better than the cheaper one. The Tamron OEM one shows even better flare control than this expensive lens.

But, if you use this lens on film camera or full-frame DSLR such as a900, you will SEE the DIFFERENCE, indeed, a very big difference.

This lens is designed for ""distortion suppression" at wide angle, a feature that crop-factor camera cannot fully enjoy.

Barrel distortion is inevitable with any wide-angle zoom lens, but Minolta 17-35mm G shows the least distortion among all wide-angle zooms so far ever made. Indeed, distortion control is the sole reason for which this lens was made. This is why Minolta designed it at maximum aperture of f/3.5, not f/2.8. Instead of f/2.8 aperture, Minolta wanted to achieve better distortion control, and they made a great piece of glass for this purpose. But, to fully enjoy this feature, you should use it on a full-frame camera.

If this lens is mounted on a full-frame camera, it will become the BEST wide-angle zoom for Dslr cameras. Nothing compararable to this gem of Minolta was ever made by Canon and Nikon. The only comparable one is Contax Carl Zeiss 17-35mm f/2.8 (N-mount). But, in terms of distortion control, the Minolta legend outperforms even the Carl Zeiss.

This is why this lens is so expensive. When this lens came out for the first time in Japan, its price was 210,000 yen (about USD $2000-2200). However, I don't think that this lens is expensive at all, considering its outstanding performance as a wide angel zoom on full-frame bodies.

If you don't like barrel distortion like me, there is no other choice than Minolta 17-35mm G. If you have a crop-factor DSLR, it is NOT a wise idea to buy this lens. But, if you have a900, get this whenever you can. I really doubt whether the new Sony 16-35/2.8 will outperform this Minolta legend, especially in terms of distortion suppression.

Some people say that this lens is flare-resistent, while others say that this is very prone to flare. Both views are right. In fact, there are two versions of this lens: orange coating one on its front element (old) and blue coating one (new for digital). However, Minolta did not advertise this difference, since the change concerned only coating. The blue coating one is better than the orange coating in terms of flare control, since it is optimized for digital SLR cameras but extremely hard to find (the orange coating might show "yellowish" reflection and the new one might show "green" reflection).

In short, this lens is a true legend. It is the BEST wide-angle zoom lens that has ever been made in the entire DSLR market. It is worth of every penny. This lens is rare, and in particular, the flare-resistant new version is very rare. GET THIS LEGEND whenever you can.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 33
  • sharpness: 4.73
  • color: 4.97
  • build: 4.94
  • distortion: 4.85
  • flare control: 4.18
  • overall: 4.73
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