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

reviewer#16282 date: Jun-27-2015
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.5
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:Sigma 50-150 F2.8 EX DC II
Sony DT 55-200 SAM
Sony DT 55-300 SAM
Sigma AF 70-200 F2.8 EX DG APO
Minolta MD 70-210 F4
Minolta AF 70-210 F3.5-4.5
Minolta AF 70-210 F4.5-5.6 I & II
Vivitar S1 70-210 F3.5 I & II
Minolta AF 75-300 F4.5-5.6 BBC
Minolta AF 75-300 F4.5-5.6 D
Tokina AF 80-200 F2.8 AT-X Pro
Vivitar 85-205 F3.8
Minolta AF 100-200 F4.5
Minolta AF 100-300 APO & D
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 five 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 lens and even cheaper than the 28-85. This lens continued to be sold at a discount after the Minolta AF 70-210 F3.5-4.5 was released.

I 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 the Minolta MD 70-210mm F4 which seems to have identical optics to the AF lens just in a manual one-touch zoom.

Like many of the original Minolta AF zooms it has a flat focus plane and little distortion. The cheap DT zooms have more center sharpness and better CA control. Image quality is more consistent than the Minolta AF 100-200 f/4.5, 70-210 f/4.5-5.6, and 70-210 f/3.5-4.5 zooms. The image quality is better than the big Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 even with that lens stopped down.

It is slightly varifocal compared to the more parfocal 55-200 and 55-300 lenses, but for HD video resolution it is probably close enough.

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: 388
  • sharpness: 4.49
  • color: 4.79
  • build: 4.84
  • distortion: 4.56
  • flare control: 3.98
  • overall: 4.53
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