Minolta AF 35-200mm xi F4.5-5.6 A-mount lens review by QuietOC

reviewer#26558 date: Apr-21-2016
sharpness: 3.5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.1
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:Sony DT 18-200
Sony DT 55-200 SAM
Sony DT 55-300 SAM
Minolta AF 28-135
Minolta AF 35-105 (both)
Minolta AF 70-210 F3.5-4.5
Minolta AF 70-210 F4.5-5.6
Minolta AF 70-210 F4
Sigma AF 35-135 F3.5-4.5
Tokina AF 35-200 F4-5.6
price paid:43 USD (used)
positive:Very fast AF
Internal focus (and not much focus breathing)
Very little distortion
62 mm filter threads
negative:Varifocal
Manual focus-by-wire (MF requires AF to be enabled)
Very slow MF (6.5 seconds from MFD to infinity)
Fairly curved focus plane
Maximum aperture decreases quickly
Slightly warm color cast
Small circular hood
comment:The first nice looking copy was purchased at auction from a private seller on eBay. Unfortunately the aperture mechanism is sticky, but otherwise the lens works well. The seller gave me a partial refund. The second copy is much softer, but the aperture mechanism works properly.

Unlike many other lenses the outer barrel turns only by zooming. A normal manual zoom can be enabled by the switch on the lens which disconnects the zoom motor. Manual zoom is then accomplished by turning the outer barrel while pushing/pulling similar to the manual focus operation 70-210/4 and the kits zooms. The rubber manual zoom grip is very small and is very blocked by the small clip-on hood. The filter threads do not turn with focus but do turn with zoom.

The lens is very varifocal. The Minolta service manual even describes this lens and the 28-105 xi lens as "electronic-compensation zoom lens Varifocal type." Even the minimum focus distance marked on the lens is given as a range from "0.5 - 1m". Closest focus is at 35 mm. The A58 automatically but imperfectly adjusts the focus after every zoom even in AF-S mode and this done without using the AF sensors.

There is a zoom motor in the lens, but AF and MF use the in-body AF drive. The variable speed zoom/focus control works pretty well, but a slower minimum speed would be helpful for MF when fully zoomed in. Focus peaking is also not available on the A58 and A65 for manual focus with this lens since the camera has to have AF enabled for MF to work. Focus peaking is enabled on the A68. The MF speed seems to be a single very slow speed is not affected by the AF drive speed setting on the A68.

When focused accurately the first copy was very sharp in the center even at 200 mm. It wasn't quite as sharp nor is the focal plane as flat as the Sony DT 55-200, but it has much less distortion. It also doesn't have as much focus breathing as most internal-focus zooms. The 55-200 reports 160 mm at a similar field-of-view as the 200 mm end of this lens at close focus.

Any zoom causes defocusing which is then partially corrected by the camera's AF motor after the zoom motion is completed. This is acceptable for still photography, but poor behavior for video recording. The zoom motor and required in-body AF drive are both rather noisy.

Comparison of Tokina and Minolta 35-200 mm Zooms with others.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 23
  • sharpness: 4.24
  • color: 4.43
  • build: 4.35
  • distortion: 4.30
  • flare control: 3.74
  • overall: 4.21
Dyxum.com - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania