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

reviewer#7947 date: Sep-6-2010
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 2
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:KM 28-75/2.8
Sony 24-105/3.5-4.5
Sigma 24-70/2.8
Tamron 17-50/2.8
price paid:100.00 (used)
positive:Color Color Color
Fast focus!
minimal CA (not as bad as others make it out to be)
negative:excessive Flare
rotating front element on zooming
1.5m MFD
comment:I don't really know where to start with this lens, but it is becoming my favorite zoom lens ever. I picked it up for $100 at a local camera shop that definitely did not know what they had.
Once you get past the fact that there is a 1.5 meter minimum focus distance (when not in macro mode) you will be amazed by this lens' sharpness, colors, and overall look of the image. It produces a very special feel to images that cannot be explained. People can call "3D" but it creates images that are instant classics. Whoever first came up with the name 'secret handshake' described it perfectly in those two words.
Sharpness from wide open is superb, and it might need to be stopped down to f/5.6 at 135mm. I never hesitate to use this lens wide open on my A850. Distortion can be a slight issue, but it can be easily corrected, and if you can correct it with your software, this lens is a great landscape lens for a FF camera because of the sharpness and colors that it produces. Blue skies stay DEEP, green grass is FRESH, and red bricks explode out of the screen and paper.
The macro switch is fun. You can zoom really close at 28mm and it creates a unique perspective. I think the lens gets even sharper in macro mode, as you can leave it at f/4 if you want a really shallow DOF. I have learned how to manipulate it to where I don't use it for macro shots, but I've gotten portraits out of it in macro mode.
More on the negatives now. The front element rotates when zooming, which is very odd, and makes it impossible to use a petal shaped hood. This lens doesn't even come with a circular hood, and I think I know why. Even if you used a hood, the flare from this lens can simply ruin a picture. I think even an LED flashlight could make this lens flare. Surprisingly, the flare doesn't completely ruin the contrast of the picture, but the multiple rainbows across the image render it useless. I feel bad that I had to rate the flare control so low because it made my average score for the lens a 4.0, and it really deserves better. Zoom creep is only bad in the middle of the zoom range. But when you are zoomed to 28mm or 135mm, it stays locked in place. The focus makes a loud SLAP at both ends of the focus range, which is slarming.
With all that I have said (probably too much) I would recommend this lens to anyone with a full frame camera, film or digital. Ignore the claims that it is too soft or has too much CA in the corners because what this lens delivers across the entire frame is impossible to beat at around $250.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 203
  • sharpness: 4.63
  • color: 4.83
  • build: 4.80
  • distortion: 4.41
  • flare control: 3.44
  • overall: 4.42
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