Minolta AF 70-210mm F3.5-4.5 A-mount lens review by QuietOC

reviewer#20412 date: Nov-6-2015
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.4
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:Tokina AF 35-200 SD
Sony DT 55-200 SAM
Vivitar 70-150 F3.8
Sigma APO 70-200 F2.8 EX DG
Vivitar S1 70-210 F3.5 I & II
Minolta AF 70-210 F4 & MD
Minolta AF 70-210 F4.5-5.6 I/II
Sony 70-300 G SSM II
Tamron SP 70-300 USD VC & non-VC
Sony 70-400 G SSM
Sony AF 75-300 F4.5-5.6
Minolta AF 75-300 F4.5-5.6 D
Minolta AF 75-300 F4.5-5.6 BBC
Tokina 80-200 AT-X Pro
Vivitar 85-205 F3.8
Minolta AF 100-200 F4.5
Minolta AF 100-300 F4.5-5.6 APO/D
price paid:24 USD (used)
positive:Moderate size and weight
Good sharpness wide open
Wider than 70-210 F4
Restyled rubber grips
Focus hold button
55 mm filter threads
negative:Soft corners
Axial CA
Slow, clunky AF
Filters rotate with focus
Sample variation
Fiddly assembly
Lack of Lens Compensation
comment:When originally released this lens was more expensive than the Minolta AF 70-210 F4 which continued to be sold alongside it. This and the non-APO 100-300 F4.5-5.6 released alongside it were the first lenses with focus hold buttons. The cheaper and similar looking 70-210 F4.5-5.6 is slightly smaller in all dimensions. "JAPAN"

I overpaid for the first tired looking copy. The hood and rear cap were missing, and it came with a generic front cap. This copy also performed poorly. I got a second nicer copy with original hood and caps for less money. I recently purchased a third copy for even less.

Both of the later 70-210's start with a wider field-of-view than the 70-210 F4. Between the three 70-210 lenses, the original 70-210 F4 is the sharpest. This lens is only f/3.5 at 70 mm and the image quality improves quite a bit stopped down to f/4, so practically it is just slightly slower than the constant f/4 zoom. It is a bit more consistent across the frame than the 70-210 f/4.5-5.6, but it doesn't match the consistency of the f/4 zoom. The Sony DT 55-200 SAM is sharper in the APS-C corners but has a lot more distortion. The little 55-200 is also just as bright wide-open up to 150 mm.

It doesn't focus very quickly, but it works alright on the Sony LA-EA4 adapter for mirrorless cameras. It also works with the Kenko teleconverters.

The smaller f/4.5-5.6 lens is smoother and easier to use. The rubber covered focus ring on this lens is smaller in diameter than the barrel while the one on the smaller lens is more flush. The higher mass of the elements in the larger lens is also noticeable.

Having opened a copy the sealing is impressive. It is more complicated than the 70-210 f/4.5-5.6 despite the superficial resemblance. It was a pain to get back together correctly. I was unable to improve the focus or zoom action. The third copy works much smoother.

The hood is identical to the ones used on the Minolta 100-300 zooms other than the printed lens name. The slightly smaller diameter hood from the 70-210 F4 also fits fine.

If you find a good copy, this is a decent telephoto zoom. The older 70-210 F4 has mostly better image quality, but it is also heavier and more expensive.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 64
  • sharpness: 4.29
  • color: 4.69
  • build: 3.98
  • distortion: 4.34
  • flare control: 3.89
  • overall: 4.24
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