Minolta AF 70-210mm F4 (beercan) A-mount lens review by A68noob

reviewer#44549 date: Jul-11-2020
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 4
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Tamron 18-270
Sony 70-300G SSM
Tamron 70-300 USD
price paid:basically few euros
positive:+ built to last forever
+ 1:4 macro mode at 1,1m
+ good colours and magical touch
+ literally no zoom creep
+ smooth bokeh
+ sharpness isnt the best, but beyond F5,6 good and F8 excellent IQ
+ small 49mm filters
+ the feel of knowing, that this lens will never let me down
++ bargain
negative:- quite a lot CA, obviously
- all the general vintage lens jazz: filter rotating, small MF ring, AF noise (i personally like it after all the usage now), dated coatings, little hazy @ F4.. nothing extraordinary if you know about it and know how to control it
comment:I read that this is the most reviewed lens on this site.. so i will tell you instead why this now 35yo lens is still valuable on modern 24MP sensors and overall fun to use!

This lens literally has no zoom creep, because it is all built in metal(beercan) that doesnt extend.. resulting in the most amazing zoom usage i have ever experienced. I can operate the zoom easily from 70 to 210mm with a single finger.. without being a loose zoom - it just runs buttersmooth - it is a pleasure and feels amazing!

It gives good 1:4 magnification at 1,1m just like most 70-300mm zooms do.. but with more DOF, less light required (for stopping down, as it is F4 + less shutter speed as it is only 210mm = ~1/200sec). Overall better to use. On distance objects the difference between 210 and 300mm aint gigantic either..

I recently took a picture of a wasp with this and a way more modern, premium Sony 70-300G SSM lens. If i would show both pictures to a random person i bet they couldnt see the difference, as its just tiny/marginally. I can also only distinguish them at pixelpeeping (slightest CA).. and checking file data: 210mm to 300mm ;D

Overall an amazingly fun, but not perfect (obviously) lens. If you are using it right it can deliver beautiful portraits, excellent landscape and animal pictures. Next to my 16-50 2,8 SSM always in my bag.
Absolutely recommended, i love this lens. My favourite.

Some tips for better usage and pictures:
*Use slow AF mode for better hitrate and more correct fine tuning - now this lens is almost always on point in AF-S mode. AF speed seems only to be considerably slower when hunting - use camera in built focuslimiter to eliminate this from happening.
*Use hood to manual focus to overcome the narrow MF ring
*Contrast, saturation and sharpness arent the BEST on old lenses.. i used to use Landscape filter (in camera) but this was bad.. now i am using Standard filter but with +1 on contrast, saturation and sharpness - images are very beautiful straight out of the camera now without being any kind of over the top.

Edit: I can now share my experiences with this lens on A7 with LA-EA4. Almost unbelieveable, but true: AF is better in every regard compared to A-Mount A77ii. AF is quicker, 100% sharp hitrate is noticably higher and it's not as loud anymore (the characteristic metalgear sound is almost gone - it kinda sounds like SAM now). Overall sharpness seems also better and surprisingly aswell i see much less purple fringing in normal scenarios. In high contrast regions its still prominent, but on usual reflexion surfaceses it's pretty much gone, while on APS-C it was horrendous in many cases. I have no idea how to explain all this, but it's great. The clunky LA-EA4 is actually improving the handling on the small A7 body and in general it feels very balanced (this results in good and sharp handheld shots without IBIS on A7). Also wide open the images aren't hazy anymore as they were on APS-C aswell. With the loss of crop factor the range is also more convinient now. Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: My ratings are based on price/performance.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 396
  • sharpness: 4.49
  • color: 4.78
  • build: 4.84
  • distortion: 4.56
  • flare control: 3.98
  • overall: 4.53
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