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 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony DT 18-200
Tamron 18-250
Sony DT 55-200 SAM
Sony DT 55-300 SAM
Vivitar S1 70-210 F3.5 I & II
Minolta MD & AF 70-210 F4
Minolta AF 70-210 F4.5-5.6 I & II
Tamron SP 70-300 USD
Minolta AF 100-200 F4.5
Minolta AF 100-300 APO & D
price paid:24 USD (used)
positive:Moderate size and weight
Good sharpness even wide open
Slightly wider than 70-210 F4
Restyled rubber grips
55 mm filter threads
negative:Heavy/stiff zoom and focus actions
Soft corners
Axial CA
Filter threads rotate with focus
Large sample variation
Fiddly assembly.
comment:When originally released this lens was more expensive than the original Minolta AF 70-210 f/4 which continued to be sold alongside it. Minolta then released the very similar looking but cheaper 70-210 f/4.5-5.6 which is slightly smaller in all dimensions. "JAPAN"

I overpaid $36 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 horribly. 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 f/4. Between the three 70-210 lenses, the original 70-210 f/4 has the best image quality, but the 70-210 f/3.5-4.5 does perform nearly as well. It is only f/3.5 at 70 mm and the image quality is much improved when 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 corners but has a lot more distortion. The little 55-200 is also just as fast up to 150 mm.

It works pretty well with the Kenko teleconverters.

There is a lot of stiction in both the focus and zoom mechanisms. The smaller f/4.5-5.6 lens is much smoother and easier to use. The rubber covered focus ring on this lens is smaller and sunken while the one on the smaller lens is more flush. The higher mass of the elements in the larger lens is also quite noticeable. It might benefit from a cleaning.

Having opened it up the sealing is impressive. It is definitely 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 seem to be 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 f/4 also fits perfectly.

If you manage to find a good copy, this isn't a horrible lens. The older 70-210 f/4 definitely has better image quality, but it is also heavier and somewhat more expensive.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 63
  • sharpness: 4.29
  • color: 4.68
  • build: 3.97
  • distortion: 4.35
  • flare control: 3.89
  • overall: 4.23
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