Minolta AF 80-200mm F2.8 APO A-mount lens review by bonzaicole

reviewer#9293 date: Aug-2-2011
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 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 70/200 2.8
Sigma 70/200 2.8
Minolta 70-210 4 "Beercan"
Carl ZeissĀ® 135mm f/1.8 Lens
price paid:950
positive:IQ is breathtaking!
Build is one of the best..
Black Color
negative:Rotating front element
Never leaves my camera (I guess that is a positive too)
comment:I knew I was in luck when I opened it and found the original warranty card w/ serial, original list of Minolta dealers/service centers (kind of ironic reading through all the dealers in cities throughout the USA), original instructions/hood, caps etc. and original packaging. I was fortunate to find/purchase a NEW COPY. The lens was purchased new by the original owner in the 80's and kept on a shelf untouched for over 25 years! Opening the box was like traveling back in time and unwrapping the lens for the first time was simply put, like witnessing the birth of my first child... Alright, my second child.

Build quality is simply the best out there. The size makes it my travel tele and the feel/balance in my hand is perfect (tripod mount fits perfectly in my palm/ wouldn't take it off if I could). The comparable Tamron and Sigma fast tele's are 25-30% larger/ more awkward / and unfortunately "THEY JUST DON'T MAKE LENSES LIKE THEY USED TO." This is all glass and metal- the way lenses should be! The lens hood... metal, focus ring... metal, body and mount... metal, etc. Zoom ring is naturally rubber but is nice and wide and has that awesome diagonal pattern which you know we all love! Overall weight demonstrates quality and high quality components and as we all know weight comes with the territory for the finest glass. In my opinion, this lens will never go out of style and I don't think I could ever part with it (but I said that about my first wife).

And you know this is some quality glass simply by it's presence. I ACTUALLY PREFER THE BLACK AF 80-200 F2.8 APO over it's white successor (even factoring in AF speed). As for IQ I've never owned the white HS version (same exact optics), but IQ DOES NOT GET BETTER THAN THIS. This is a zoom which rivals the best primes of today at comparable focal ranges.

Sharpness is top-notch, colors are brilliant "classic Minolta." Rather than going into specifics and repeating the best comments about this lens, I will sum it up with IQ which is stunning and breathtaking, SIMPLY MAGICAL. Every time I put the images on my computer screen I am amazed (it is that awe factor which keeps me photographing and probably will for the rest of my life. Others say the images have a 3D look to them which I completely agree. I rarely have to PP anything.

As for speed the AF is definitely faster than the Tamron 70/200 2.8 and almost on par with the Sigma HSM, and quite frankly VERY FAST! You can feel the torque from this baby when the AF gets going! Granted, I've never owned the white version, but for me the black 80-200 F2.8 APO is SURELY FAST ENOUGH and definitely not slow (depends on the camera body, on an A900 it's GREEAAT). I also tested this on the A55, also fast but for video the AF is a little noisy. About the AF noise and rotating front element, IMO it adds to "the feel." I want to feel and hear the mechanics just like I do when driving a fine sports car. The engine purr, the feel of the clutch sweet spot, shifting through the gears... that's what it is all about! There is a place for silent AF like certain video or a Lexus interior, but I could never be one of those guys where all you hear is a beep (or nothing) then shutter. The mechanics and performance of the lens is nicely supplemented by the sounds. The feel of the focus ring is precise and nicely dampened and the zoom is smooth and even and great rotation (Marked 80, 100, 135, and 200 and I believe it's a precise quarter turn to go from 80 to 200).

Another member said something in the line of, "Built like a tank but with the precision of the finest Swiss timepiece."---- great analogy for this lens and other 80's Minolta lenses! I would go as far as to say that this lens is one of the TOP 10 LENSES OF ALL TIME (o.k., definitely top 10 of 80's Minolta lenses and top 25 all time)- with that special, indescribable magic only capable of coming from Minolta lenses made in Japan from this era. To me the black color is also makes a statement, not white simply to copy the Canon white lenses starting in this era or to fit in at the press box. Plus, the camera is black, isn't it? The size and color are also great to stay LOW KEY.

In conclusion, shooting with the Minolta 80-200 F2.8 APO is like driving a meticulously kept 'black color' 1984 Ferrari 308 GTSi with under 500 miles on it and viewing the images is like watching the replay crossing the finish line in first place....

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 42
  • sharpness: 4.83
  • color: 4.88
  • build: 4.83
  • distortion: 4.81
  • flare control: 4.57
  • overall: 4.79
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