Minolta AF 35-70mm F3.5-4.5 A-mount lens review by cbanks

reviewer#11565 date: Dec-29-2013
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 3
distortion: 4
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:- Minolta 35-80mm f4-5.6 II
- Sony 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 (original)
- Sony 35mm f1.8
- Minolta AF 70-210mm F4 (beercan)
- Everything else I own
price paid:16 USD (used)
positive:- Sharp as a tack
- Rich Minolta colors - wow!
- Fits in your pocket
- Did I mention it's cheap as dirt?
negative:- Not for the metal body crowd
- Not the greatest pointed near the sun
- Short 2x range but you knew that already
- Some pin cushion/barrel distortion
comment:This is the cheapest lens I've ever owned. It's also on my short list of all-time favorites of about a dozen I've owned. Seriously.

I want so badly to give this lens a 5 on sharpness. It's that good but, in fairness, my Sony 35mm prime beats it if you pixel peep. Surprisingly, my Minolta 35-80mm lens and Sony 18-55mm kit lens edge it out too. However, in the real world I much prefer this lens. The IQ is just... wow! Does pixel peeping really matter with a lens like this? It's not like I'm going to use it on a National Geographic assignment with editors scoping out prints with magnifying glasses. The bottom line? I'm very satisfied with its sharpness.

Color-wise this lens is the best example of classic Minolta colors I own. Better than my legendary Minolta beercan even. Better than my Minolta 500mm AF Reflex by a bit.

My copy didn't come with a hood so I bought an inexpensive metal screw-on vented one. It works far better than the bayonet one that came with my Minolta 35-80mm which I assume would be similar to what would have come with it. Still, there's the occasional problem pointed near the sun that's probably worse than modern lenses but far better than my 35-80mm which has problems with veil haze.

Put it all together and there's a wonderful synergy. I posted some pics in the samples forum. I only wish my humble skills could do this lens justice.

All this gushing aside, I know right off the bat a lot of people won't like this lens. It's not for the all-medal crowd being one of the lightest plastic lenses you can imagine. You'll forget it's in your pocket so don't run it through the wash. It's not for the folks who only want the finest best-of-breed G or Zeiss glass. Unfortunately, my a65 firmware won't correct this lens' distortion.

I can't recommend this as a walk-around lens because of its limited 2x range which simply doesn't fit enough use cases. However, the beauty of this lens is you can drop it in a pocket for those times it does work. To extend its range, I've toyed with a Tamron 1.4x teleconverter. Yeah, call me strange but it works extremely well. No real loss of sharpness even pixel peeping but it does add a touch of CA that's only noticeable magnifying an image far beyond your typical enlargement. I tossed an example of this in the sample forums too.

Hey, this is a hobby for me. I like playing with lenses. In that spirit I highly recommend this lens.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 59
  • sharpness: 4.52
  • color: 4.68
  • build: 3.37
  • distortion: 4.34
  • flare control: 4.02
  • overall: 4.18
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