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

reviewer#39908 date: Aug-4-2017
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 3
distortion: 3
flare control: 3
overall: 3.4
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 own this lens
compared to:70-210/4 "beercan" 100-300 APO, 100-300 non APO
price paid:
positive:Fairly sharp in general, with reasonable contrast. Unusually my lens is quite definitely best at its long end, where it really is quite decent across the APS frame even wide open. It seems disappointingly inconsistent across the frame at short focal lengths, though central sharpness seems good at all apertures and focal lengths.
Fairly small and light. Very similar form factor and weight to the 100-300 lenses. Colour is definitely Minolta, as you might expect...
negative:The worst thing about this lens, and the least commented on, as far as I can tell, is that it can give purple highlights and edges in bright, strong light, particularly towards its long end shooting towards the light (eg very noticeable indeed at 210mm F8). It is definitely much worse than my beercan for this, and very well on the way to being as bad as the old pre-APO 100-300, which was the worst lens I've ever used in this respect.

Sharpness, though good, is generally less consistent across the frame than the beercan 70-210 or the 100-300 APO, and contrast, while decently high, looks a little lower than the beercan's. Like the 100-300 lenses, the short end underperforms. In fact it is the long end which really shows some optical strength, as I have good test shots at 210mm/ max aperture.

Not a good performer at close distances, where it needs a lot of stopping down for even decent centre sharpness.
comment:A competent enough lens which is certainly very usable, but not a match for the original f4 beercan lens, and the 100-300 APO is also optically superior for almost the same size and weight.

This will have its place due to matching the beercan's close focus of 1.1 meters (where the 100-300s go to only 1.5) and nearly matching its optical speed, but the form factor and fact that it focuses faster are the only advantages I can see that this holds over the F4 beercan.

On the plus side, this is a lot faster than the 4.5-5.6 version which looks so similar, without being a lot bigger, heavier or much more expensive.

This is a preliminary review only after review of a couple of hundred test shots, and subject to possible change. The example lens is in superb condition, with no mechanical slop or zoom creep at all (unlike a previous sample I once briefly owned which had dreadful zoom creep).

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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