Minolta AF 28-85mm F3.5-4.5 A-mount lens review by Max Zappa

reviewer#579 date: Mar-15-2006
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 have experience with this lens
compared to:Minolta 35-70mm f3.5-4.5 and Minolta 50mm f1.7
price paid:
positive:Sharp across the whole range, compact and well built.
negative:Might be considered heavy by some. I think only available on the second-hand market.
comment:I gave this lens a pretty stern test, comparing it with the Minolta PLASTIC, by that I mean the plastic mount 35-70mm f3.5-4.5 and the 50mm f1.7 as a reference.

I took pictures at f3.5, f5.6, f8, f16 and f22 at the following focal lengths 28,35,50,70 and 85mm.

I had the 7D tripod mounted, and shot the same subject repeatedly. I then compared the shots from the 28-85mm against the 35-70mm, and 50mm f1.7. The results were surprising. I compared corresponding images in photoshop, at up to 200% magnification, looking at centre and edge sharpness, contrast and colour.

The 28-85mm is sharp across the whole focal range, being pretty much razor sharp from 28 to 50mm, at all apertures. At f5.6 and larger, sharpness at 70 and 85mm was slightly less than razor sharp, but nevertheless very good. Colour was warmer than the 35-70mm f3.5-4.5, contrast high, with no noticeable distortion.

In short, this lens is a cracker, being the equivalent of a 40-130mm zoom in full frame. The SURPRISE is this, the plastic mounted 35-70mm f3.5-4.5 is even better and is a real shock to me, since that was the lens that came with my 500SI 35mm SLR, many years ago, which has seen very little use. The 35-70mm at 50mm at f5.6 and f8 is just as sharp as the fixed focal length 50mm f1.7

In summary the 28-85mm is a superb sharp lens across its entire range, contrast is high, colour is on the warm side, build quality is very good, usually has a lens hood. The 35-70mm is even sharper, contrast is also high, colour is neutral, build quality does not feel as good, plastic mount etc and the focal range is less, does not come with a lens hood.

If I had to choose between the two, I would have to go for the 35-70mm, because I will always go for the sharpest tool in the box, it feels kinda cheap and flimsy though compared to the Rolls Royce feel of the 28-85mm. But image quality is my first priority so 35-70mm it is.

A word of caution. I have owned enough lenses over the years to know that individual sample quality can differ. The tests I conducted were in no way scientific, but were simply a matter of comparing images shot at identical apertures and focal lengths, under the same lighting conditions. I used my eyes as the judge. I bought the 28-85mm just 1 week ago for Ł45 on ebay, I got lucky, my copy is good. The 35-70mm f3.5-4.5 can be had cheap on ebay too, for ridiculously low prices. If you come across one of these little beauties for sale dont overlook it because of the low price and the plasticky feel, my copy at least is an absolute diamond. The Minolta 35-70mm f3.5-4.5 AF shall hearby be known as the Minolta "PLASTIC". Remember you heard it first here on www.dyxum.com, from Max Zappa.

Max Zappa

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 112
  • sharpness: 4.29
  • color: 4.69
  • build: 4.85
  • distortion: 4.16
  • flare control: 3.62
  • overall: 4.32
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