Minolta AF 28-135mm F4-4.5 A-mount lens review by JeremyT

reviewer#5871 date: Aug-19-2009
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.5
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:* Sony 18-70 F3.5-5.6 (kit)
* Minolta AF 28-75 F2.8 D
* Minolta 50mm F1.7
* Sigma 18-50 F2.8 EX DC
price paid:
positive:* Impressive build quality
* Long range
* Very sharp wide open < 100mm
* Odd but fun 1:4 "macro" mode at 28mm
negative:* CA
* Flare (and no hood)
* Poor minimum focal distance (1.5m)
* Hype has driven the price too high (over 300 USD)
* Not as sharp wide open > 100mm
* Heavier and bulkier than modern lenses
comment:I bought this lens (in well-used condition) by accident on ebay. Despite an ugly exterior, the optics seem to be nearly flawless. I hear that this lens can have build quality issues, but my copy doesn't.

A better body might need stopping down throughout the range for optimal sharpness, but under 100mm it out-resolves the A200 sensor. Beyond that some softness is visible, but stopped down 1 stop it beats the A200 sensor again.

Colors are "classic Minolta." Images have the same "feel" as those taken with the 50mm prime (similar bokeh, similar colors).

The lens can flare, and it didn't have a hood. CA is problematic - I commonly see purple fringing in high contrast areas. Stopping down just a little helps.

Dedicated macro at 28mm is odd, but I've found it surprisingly useful. It allows for some creative shots, and in some cases it can be used to work around the nasty 1.5m MFD.

The filter ring rotates on zoom, but not on focus (the focus ring is near the body). AF is as fast and accurate as any on my A200, though I hear a "knocking" sound when it operates (could be my copy).

If you get a good copy for $200 or less, it's a great value and worth every penny. But if you're looking at $300 or more, the choice is less clear to me. "Like a G" claims aside, this lens has some drawbacks compared to modern lenses.

It's got a great range for full-frame, but it's heavy and slow relative to modern glass. I think the market for this lens is somewhat limited - the range is problematic on APS/C, and I have to think that anybody who can afford a 2000 USD+ full frame body will be willing to spend more on a modern replacement that will perform better.

** Update 5/2010: I recently sold this lens after realizing I almost never used it any more. It's a great performer, but its limitations add up, and on APS-C I just prefer smaller lenses with wider FOVs

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 201
  • sharpness: 4.62
  • color: 4.82
  • build: 4.80
  • distortion: 4.41
  • flare control: 3.44
  • overall: 4.42
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