Minolta AF 80-200mm xi F4.5-5.6 A-mount lens review by Phil Wood

reviewer#44361 date: Aug-27-2019
sharpness: 3.5
color: 5
build: 3
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 3.9
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:Minolta - AF 70-210 F4 (beercan)
Minolta - AF 70-210 F4.5-5.6
Minolta - AF 70-210 F3.5-4.5
Minolta - AF 70-210 F4.5-5.6 II
Minolta - AF 80-200 F4.5-5.6
price paid:10 GBP
positive:Full frame, hood, light, small, cheap, good range to complement a kit lens.
negative:xi, focusing a bit hit or miss, indifferent IQ.
comment:A built-to-budget second zoom, the obvious complement to the 35-80mm xi in a cheap two lens 3xi kit - which is exactly what I bought for £15. Fortunately it is a far more worthy lens than the 35-80 (a pet hate of mine). The two are the successors to the 35-80/80-200 pair with the built in lens caps and, I suspect, share the optics. However, the earlier version (Minolta - AF 80-200 F4.5-5.6) works better with my A900, the xi version will often give up on focus at the 200mm end. To its benefit is a rather good clip-on hood with a nice matt interior finish - the built-in cap makes hoods all but impossible on the other version. Optically the two are very similar, decent performers, perhaps a bit better than would expect from a cheap kit lens of the era. I am sure samples will vary, but I rate my manual zoom version more highly for IQ than my xi. Of course the biggest downside is the xi power zoom control, it was an idea before its time and not very well executed.
I have recommended the Minolta - AF 80-200 F4.5-5.6 as a pocketable telezoom for those occasions when you want to travel light and want some more length in your pocket 'just in case' and this lens would also serve, but it's just not quite as good and I much prefer the ergonomics of the more pocketable non xi version.
The other obvious comparison is with Minolta's 4 generations of 70-210mm zooms - the oldest of which, the f4 'beercan', is a class or two above the cheap 80-200s (not the f2.8 monsters I can't afford), and is my choice if I am going out to shoot in that range. The later generations see a steady decrease in quality.
This lens is cheap for a reason, it just isn't that good. If image quality is important get a beercan, if you just want a cheap pocket FF telezoom for occasional use get the non xi version, if you want an xi zoom to see what the fuss is about get the 28-105 (the best for IQ), 35-200 (the only Minolta hyperzoom) or 100-300 (it's actually better than the non xi, non APO version).
Sharpness is okay but well short of the beercan.
Colours are Minolta - which suits me fine.
Build is plastic (including the mount), cheap, and has the added complexity of xi, I do have one that can't zoom out if pointed upwards.
Distortion - nothing to worry about.
Flare - it's a 1990s lens, it flares and ghosts, but nothing like as badly as the smaller 35-80 and 28-80 xis

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 9
  • sharpness: 4.11
  • color: 4.11
  • build: 4.00
  • distortion: 4.00
  • flare control: 3.44
  • overall: 3.93
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