Minolta AF 300mm F4 HS APO G A-mount lens review by Phil Wood

reviewer#46855 date: Apr-22-2022
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.8
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:All Minolta x-300mm zooms
A few other 3rd party zooms.
Minolta AF 200mm f2.8 HS APO
price paid:275 GBP
positive:Sharp
Solid
AF ring cover
Adjustable Focus limiter
Tripod collar (with strap lugs)
Focus hold button
negative:White
CA
Weight
comment:I have had this lens for one day, but it only took a couple of minutes to realise that comparisons with any other lens I have that can shoot at 300mm is utterly pointless - this lens is way, way better. At last I have a lens that is truly sharp at this focal length. I am sure there are expensive more modern zooms that may match its performance and a prime or two that is better, until I can afford one of those this gem will suit me fine.

It is sharp at f4 but improves a bit when stopped down, AF speed is limited, as are all screw-drive lenses in comparison to SSM, but it is responsive and quick enough for most uses.

The mechanics of the lens take a little bit of learning - the hood attachment for instance is quite oddball, but you're less likely to lose one than any clip-on or bayonet type (if you lose one you are unlikely to find a replacement). The focus limiter is very flexible, but not so easy to use as the more usual switch. Some complain that the tripod collar is not detachable, but I'm not unhappy with this, I prefer not to be given the opportunity to mislay it.

The sliding cover over the manual focus control ring is useful, it means the control ring can be where you want it to be rather than way out at the front (as on most AF Minoltas), which would be quite a long way out in this lens.

As with all the C20th lenses (and most C21st) there is evident CA in the usual places - stopping down helps, as does some sympathetic post processing. It far from the worst performer in this aspect, I have given it 4 for 'flare control' to reflect that it is not up to the best modern standards, but I'd make it 4.5 if that was an option. If one could send a lens in for recoating to resolve this issue the cost would almost certainly put me off with most of my lenses, but I might be tempted with this one.

It is a bit of a beast to carry around, I find a monopod useful both to steady the shot and to provide a carrying handle.

The only lens that I have that bears comparison is the 200/2.8 HS APO, which shares the focus ring cover and focus limiter design with its bigger brother. It's a good lens, but I prefer the 300/4, and it's not the focal length that is the issue, it's the IQ, the 300/4 is that bit sharper and AF seems a touch faster.

After a few days use I am realising that, while it is pin sharp at best, the weight makes it tricky to keep steady while handheld - motion blur is not unusual. It's not a lens I will pop in the bag 'in case I find a use for it' - if I take it out it will be with the expectation of a need for it.

The other downside is the attention it draws, a big white lens does not help you shoot unnoticed.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 36
  • sharpness: 4.85
  • color: 4.86
  • build: 4.75
  • distortion: 4.83
  • flare control: 4.78
  • overall: 4.81
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