Minolta AF 70-210mm F4 (beercan) A-mount lens review by QuietOC

reviewer#16282 date: Jun-27-2015
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.2
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:Tokina AF 35-200 SD
Minolta MD 50-135 F3.5
Sigma 50-150 F2.8 EX DC HSM II
Sony DT 55-200 SAM
Vivitar 70-150 F3.8
Sigma 70-200 F2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM
Sigma 70-200 F2.8 EX DG APO
Vivitar S1 70-210 F3.5 I & II
Minolta MD 70-210 F4
Minolta AF 70-210 F3.5-4.5
Tokina 80-200 AT-X Pro
Vivitar 85-205 F3.8
Minolta AF 100-200 F4.5
price paid:40 USD (used)
positive:Internal zoom
Smooth zoom and focus control
Consistent sharpness wide open
Decent AF using 2X teleconverters
55 mm filter thread
negative:Weight and length
Small, hard focus ring
Rotating and extending front element for focus
Lateral and axial CA
comment:I purchased my first copy of this lens with my A58 at a steep discount from a local store. It was in clean condition with both original caps and original metal hood and had a price tag of $125. I bought six other copies of various condition. All are quite similar in optical quality. "JAPAN"

This was originally a fairly inexpensive lens having a suggested list price of $263 in 1985, half the cost of the 28-135 zoom and even cheaper than the standard 28-85. This lens continued to be sold at a discount after the Minolta AF 70-210 F3.5-4.5 was released.

I've since then picked up a few copies of the respected Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm F3.5 in MD mount, and the Minolta is certainly better. I also picked up a Minolta MD 70-210mm F4 which seems to have identical optics to the AF lens just in a manual one-touch zoom.

It has a fairly flat focus plane and little distortion. The DT zooms have more center sharpness and better CA control. Image quality is more consistent than the later Minolta AF 100-200 f/4.5, 70-210 f/3.5-4.5, and 70-210 f/4.5-5.6 zooms. The 1986 Minolta 75-300 F4.5-5.6 is a bit sharper with less CA.

The focus shifts more with zoom than the DT 55-200 and 55-300 lenses, but for HD video resolution it is probably close enough to parfocal. The front element can be adjusted to maintain focus at the zoom ends.

Size and weight make it uncomfortable for sustained hand held use with the little Sony SLT-A58. I prefer using the lighter DT SAM telephoto zooms. The zoom and focus mechanisms are both very smooth but rather loose.

Forget about manual focus. The hard plastic focus grip is way out on the end of the lens and extends with the front elements. The non-extending, rubber focus grips on the later lenses are better except for the sunken, stiff one on the 70-210 f/3.5-4.5.

The metal and plastic hoods are identical to those found on the 75-300. The similar clip-on hoods from the 70-210 f/4.5-4.5 and 100-300 lenses will attach in normal orientation to this lens, but interfere with the focus ring when reversed for storage. The little Sony ALC-SH111 and larger ALC-SH102 hoods also fit--the later a bit loosely.

Overall this is a bargain-priced, semi-professional quality zoom lens and highly recommended.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 391
  • sharpness: 4.49
  • color: 4.79
  • build: 4.84
  • distortion: 4.56
  • flare control: 3.98
  • overall: 4.53
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