Minolta AF 400mm F4.5 HS APO G A-mount lens review by PhotoTraveler

reviewer#4725 date: Jan-22-2009
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
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 used to own this lens
compared to:70-200G SSM
4/70-210
price paid:
missing
positive:Super Sharp
Compact 400mm, but not slow
Light weight for high quality 400mm
negative:Very touchy Manual focus,
Bad hood design
Oddball filter sizes
Doesn't have real Lens Cap
comment:This is a dream lens, but one with quirks.

Optically, it's a stellar lens. And it still works great with teleconvertors. I have both the 1.4x and 2.0x TC. With the 1.4x AF is maintained and the lens gets the job done. The 2.0x is manual focus only, optically this is fine, but usability, not so good.

The size and weight of this lens for its speed and focal length is a great compromise. But it's still big lens. Mainly due to the hood. I really don't like the design, its similar to trying to install a christmas tree in it's stand for those who have done that. You have to get the right peg, pull it back, get the 2 other fixed pegs into the right groove on the lens, than push the first peg back in and tighten. It's rather annoying and not the easiest thing to do in a hurry. Instead of a real lens cap, it has a boot that fits over the hood, which makes for something that is hard to carry as you can't just put it in your pocket.

It has drop in rear filters, which is good since they are small, but they are not a standard size. The design works, just wish they were a more common size.

Manual focus is tricky no matter what. If you are use to focusing a 50mm prime, or your macro lens, this is not the same. The focus ring is very light, and the slighted touch will go out of focus. With the 2x TC you have to manual focus, which makes it hard to use for anything buy on a tripod shooting a fixed object. Of course you are getting 800mm of focal length, so it can be worth it. In the end, don't buy this lens to manual focus, it's just not easy to manual focus. Also just opening the sliding door and such is awkward.

This is a great lens, just use AF and stick to nothing other than the Sony-Minolta 1.4x TC and you are good to go. The quality is great. But you basically have to get ready with the lens before beginning your hike with it. Get the hood on, and leave the case, lens boot and so forth in the car and you are good to go. You can hand hold shoot this lens, as it's not that heavy. You cannot manual focus and hand hold this lens, especially if you are shooting a moving animal.

Similar to other early minolta tele lenses, it's a bit squeaky by default in operation, it's not a new SSM lens. You hear it working, and when you turn the focus ring you know you are moving parts inside.

No issues with this lens can trump the overall great package it is though. It's a great oddball.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 46
  • sharpness: 4.92
  • color: 4.87
  • build: 4.87
  • distortion: 4.96
  • flare control: 4.80
  • overall: 4.88
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