Minolta AF 20mm F2.8 A-mount lens review by Bob Socko

reviewer#7958 date: Sep-10-2010
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 used to own this lens
compared to:* Sigma 20mm f/1.8
* Sigma 24mm f/1.8
* Sigma 30mm f/1.4
* Sony 50mm f/1.4
price paid:275 USD (used)
positive:* good sharpness wide open
* Minolta colors
* focuses quickly
* small, lightweight
negative:* significant vignetting at f/2.8
* f/2.8 is not fast enough for low-light work
* there are more versatile options for APS-C landscape shots
* focal plane shifts at medium apertures - lens can be slightly sharper when manually focused at/around f/5.6
comment:If you want a full-frame prime for landscapes, this is a great option. You get classic Minolta colors, sharp images at all apertures, and the rock-solid build that lenses from its era are known for. Colors are better than Sigma's wide-angle primes, more saturated and not as yellow. Also, when compared to the Sigma 20mm f/1.8 and 24mm f/1.8, the Minolta focuses MUCH faster; it's not a big deal if you're shooting landscapes, but it makes a difference when you're shooting moving subjects.

This lens is not without its flaws. F/2.8 is not a fast enough aperture for low light work, so don't expect to use this lens in the same way you use an f/1.X prime. In addition, if you use this lens on an a850/a900 and shoot at f/2.8, the vignetting is pretty noticeable (though it's not hard to correct in post). Finally, it's hard to recommend this lens to those who plan on using it mostly/exclusively for landscape shots on an APS-C body. Stop any decent-quality zoom lens down to f/8 or f/11 and you should get excellent image quality, corner to corner. Why spend a few hundred dollars on this lens when you could spend a bit more, pick up a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, and get both comparable image quality at 20mm f/8 and the utility of a zoom lens? Don't get me wrong, this is a fantastic piece of glass - all I'm saying is that for APS-C shooters, you can kill two birds with one stone with other lenses.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 58
  • sharpness: 4.39
  • color: 4.83
  • build: 4.69
  • distortion: 4.21
  • flare control: 4.07
  • overall: 4.44
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