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

reviewer#6071 date: Sep-17-2009
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:35-70 Minolta f4, 28-85 Minolta f3.5,
17-210 Minolta f4, 50-f3.5 macro Minolta, 24-50 f4 Minolta, 50 mm 1.4 Minolta, and a few others as well.
price paid:$300 USD
positive:Very sharp
Great range
Fast Focus
Balances well on A900
Could be used wide open on APSC
negative:A touch bulky
Flare prone
Low contrast
Minimum focus distance is very limiting
comment:Up front I must make a point, all my lens testing is done in RAW, tripod mounted with precise exposures set using uni WB, and converted in Raw Developer, this method extracts every last bit of detail from an image file and shows up any problems quite obviously.

Make no mistake here unless you are using RAW and a decent convertor you will never know just how good this or pretty much any of the above lenses really are.

So how does this classic perform.

It is an utterly amazing lens, it is sometimes bettered at certain settings by some of the above but the key to this lens is consistency across the entire range.

If the lens were used on APSC one could truly shoot wide open at pretty much any focal length, full frame needs a bit of stopping down to get edges really sharp.

At 28 mm the full frame is critically sharp at f13, the edges get softer with each stop wider, diffraction is a minor issue at this aperture but things can easily be re-sharpened if needed. Of the above lenses the 24-50 may look just a little bit sharper at 28 mm but it is very very close.

35 mm performance is quite stellar, at at f8-11 is pretty much as sharp as one could hope for, it is better than all of the above lenses at this setting.

At 50 mm is performance is sharp across the entire frame even at fairly wide apertures, but its central resolution is not as tack sharp as the 35-70 or the 50 mm f3.5 macro. It should be noted though that at 50 mm the 35-70 is quite incredible and beats all other lenses bar the 50 mm f3.5 (but it comes very very close) I have said it before, if you need a 50 mm lens for your Sony bypass the fixed 50s and buy the 35-70 it is a better performer unless you really need wide apertures.

At 70 mm the 28-135 rocks, it creams the alternatives easily.

Above 85 mm it is a close call between the 70-210 and the 28-135, either will do the business and it should be noted that the 70-135 mm range is the optimum for the 70-210.

I could not use this a general purpose lens, it is a bit too heavy and the MFD is just too limiting, but that is what I have the 35-70 or 28-85 is for. But for landcsape work, and a whole array of jobs where close focusing is a non- issue the 28-135 is a very fine tool indeed.

Strangely I think it would make a better option for those who would other wise buy a 28 f2.8 or either of the 35 mm Minoltas as it seems to out-resolve them by a margin and as said the 50 mm setting is better than the f1.4 and way better than the f1.7. And the 70 mm setting rocks, so if you wanted to just cover the 28-70 mm range this is likely the optimum tool.

Contrast is low, but I feel this is a benefit as the files are very easy to tweak as a result, but out of the camera they can look a little flat. You definitely can not point it into the sun and expect anything reasonable.

The price for the lens seems high to many folk, but my feeling is that it is a bargain for what it can do. If a new lens were available that resolved across the range like this one the price would be sky high (like over $2500.00) and of course it would have higher contrast and better flare control.

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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