Minolta AF 28-80mm F3.5-5.6 II A-mount lens review by Miranda F

reviewer#39935 date: Sep-17-2017
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.3
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:Minolta 28-80mm & 28-100mm f3.5-5.6 (55mm filter thread, usually silver)
Minolta 28-80 f4-5.6 (one with macro switch)
Sigma 28-80 f3.5-5.6 (62mm filter thread)
Minolta 24-105mm
Minolta 35-105mm (later plastic one)
& Lots of other zooms and primes
price paid:£7 with film camera
positive:small, light, cheap
pretty sharp at full aperture
no CA to speak of
low distortion
negative:not a lot for the money, except annoying 62mm thread and not taking the same lens hood as the 55mm thread versions.
comment:Judged as a cheap normal zoom for FF digital or film, I have to say my copy of this lens was a pleasant surprise. 100% crops were pretty good into the far corners, with just the expected amount of softness at full aperture and very little discernible CA, and the centre sharp at all focal lengths and apertures.
Clearly copies vary, but after trying maybe a dozen or so of the cheaper Minolta zooms, it is rare to find one that isn't pretty useable. Can't say that for the Sigma lenses all of which were terrible! So how do they compare?

The later silver models with 55mm thread are very sharp in the centre, except at full aperture at the longest end where it is a bit weaker, and pretty sharp in the corners at f8, though soft wide open (but not with objectionable CA or PF).
This one (the black 62mm filter thread model) seems pretty good to me in the corners fully open, and I am certainly happy to use it fully open without worrying about the corners, though if I was taking an architectural shot in good light I would probably use f8. Tree backgrounds are also pretty good even wide open, without the horrid CA or PF that turns many high-contrast distant tree branches purple. Sure, there's a little barrel distortion, that's to be expected but overall I'm happy to use it.
I have yet to test the macro-switch version fully.
The 24-105mm is a better lens, at least wide open (some other lenses end up sharper at f8 than my copy) but it's bigger and heavier and more expensive.
The plastic Minolta 35-105mm is a different lens entirely (see my review) but not a first choice for most uses.
If you want an FF lens in the 28-70mm or 28-80mm region and can live without f2.8 at the long end, frankly any of the Minolta 28-80 lenses are worth trying despite or because of their incredibly low price on ebay. And all the types capable of making excellent pictures (okay, maybe except the shutter cap and xi versions) - if you get a bad one just toss it and buy another; the trick is to test them thoroughly against a tree background to see how bad the corners are and to know what aperture you need to get them sharp (on those occasions when you do need the corners sharp). They *should* be pretty good.
To me, the important thing is not getting a 'perfect' lens (there's no such thing) but testing your lenses enough so you know what their foibles are and how to use them at their best. Eg, most of them need a hand to shade them from sun out of shot, and the older ones are generally less tolerant to sun in shot. This one seems not too bad. It looks fine through the film camera OVF too, and we'll see when the prints come back!

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 24
  • sharpness: 3.52
  • color: 4.04
  • build: 3.04
  • distortion: 3.54
  • flare control: 3.42
  • overall: 3.51
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