Minolta AF 300mm F2.8 APO G HS A-mount lens review by dfwatt

reviewer#15261 date: May-29-2015
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.7
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:Tamron 70-200 2.8
Tamron 150-600 4.5-6.3
Minolta 200 2.8 HS G (little brother)
Minolta 600 4 HS G (big brother)
price paid:$1600
positive:1) Sharpness, esp. if stopped down to f4 and beyond.
2) Build quality - classic proverbial tank-like build.
3) Value - very good copies can be had for $1500-1600. Compare to $4-6K for latest Canikon and Sony versions.
4) Smooth bokeh, esp from f2.8-4.
5) Relatively little CA, esp. classic purple fringing on bright edges for an older generation lens, with lesser vulnerability to this issue than a lot of its Minolta siblings.
6) Works quite nicely with Minolta AP0 II 1.4TC with fairly minimal loss of sharpness, giving you a 300 f2.8 and a 420 f4 for little extra cost.
7) Focus limiter works nicely to reduce hunting.
negative:1) Weighs like half a tank?
2) Screw drive vs. newer SSM. One of the basic tradeoffs to get a lens like this for so little $.
3) Increased vulnerability to flare, another classic Minolta legacy issue, but not something that can't be managed.
4) not much else.
comment:This is another classic legacy lens from 'the mind of Minolta' that holds its own against more expensive and premium modern lenses pretty well - and for roughly 1/3 to even 1/4 of the current cost of a Canikon 300 2.8 or the new Sony 300 2.8. Admittedly, and as already noted, those have SSM and better resistance to CA/PF due to more modern lens coatings. But the modest PF can be processeed out, and focus speed is competitive, esp. with skillful use of the focus limiter, so this lens, like a lot of the HS G telephotos primes and several zooms, has to be seen as simply a great value - even if it has been surpassed in some ways by more modern offerings.

It's fast (both in focusing and in light gathering), fast enough to still be a passably fast lens with an APO gen 2 1.4 TC on it (which does slow focusing a bit), which seems to be the configuration more often than not for my shooting. Heavy, but not compared to its big brother, the 600 f4, with which it shares a lot of functional properties and pluses and minuses. Great for indoor sports, but tough to handhold for long periods of time.

If there is any knock on the lens (besides its heft), it's that it has a curious 'tweener' status - too big for hand holding for more than a brief period of time, too short for most wildlife shooting (without a TC) to make tripod shooting worthwhile. Its best venue/fit probably is in relation to many indoor sports, where its speed is very useful to keep your ISO down a stop or so, and where 400mm and above is often overkill. But if you pair this with its big brother (the 600mm f4 HS 'Bigma') and a 1.4TC, you have a very useful 300-420-600-840 range, non-zoomable of course, but from just these two lenses and a TC, you have an enormously flexible and high quality telephoto kit with great sharpness, speed, and the classic Minolta virtues of great bokeh and color - just not light . . . . or cheap!

Highly recommended, esp. since the price seems to have come down lately to sometimes well below $2K.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 24
  • sharpness: 4.71
  • color: 4.88
  • build: 4.92
  • distortion: 4.92
  • flare control: 4.63
  • overall: 4.81
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