Minolta AF 85mm F1.4 G D Limited A-mount lens review by ColiNiloK

reviewer#44469 date: Feb-20-2020
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:-Minolta 85mm f1.4 G D (the normal version)
-Sony FE 85mm f1.4 GM (not directly, from limited usage, samples online and a very limited number of comparison reviews)
-Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM (not directly)
*Please see my review on the normal Minolta 85 f1.4 lens as reference to compare to many other 85mm equivalent lenses
price paid:Lots of pennies
positive:-Bokeh, what this limited edition Minolta 85 is made for
-Colours and rendering, simply unique like its rarity
-Excellent build quality
-Reasonably fast and accurate AF
-Lens ergonomics
negative:-No weather and dust sealing
-Extends when AF
-No SSM means AF can be noisy and can be slower than modern lenses
-CA wide open comparing to modern lenses
-AF Can hunt and not as accurate and not as fast indoor
-No AF-D support on A99, A99II
-Usability much reduced on E mount cameras with LAEA3&4
-Bigger and heavier than the normal Minolta 85 f1.4, however not really a negative as all modern fast 85mm are big(ger) and heavy(ier).
comment:What can I say? I was lucky enough to get a copy of this very rare lens and boy it is defiantly a keeper.

This lens may not able to compare to the new 85mm lenses sharpness and CA wise such as the Sigma Art, Zeiss Otus/Milvus, Sony's very 85 GM and the new Canon 85mm RF lens, however its strength and beauty lies in its bokeh and rendering character.

The normal Minolta 85mm f1.4 G D lens is already excellent optically with stunning bokeh and draws beautifully. This limited lens, may not be head and shoulders above the normal one, however it does give an extra kick in the bokeh department and that also helps with the overall character. You can definitely notice the limited lens has an even smoother almost STF like bokeh. I also noticed that the CA and sharpness is slightly improved on the limited lens at least against the copy of the normal Minolta 85mm f1.4 G D lens that I used to own.

Having used the 85mm GM for a very limited time and seen 1 or 2 review directly comparing the 2, I can see the GM is sharper and has less CA and less bokeh fringing, they draw very slightly differently however. The GM is an example of great modern lens design, it truly is a stunning lens optically speaking. However, I do prefer the Minolta 85 limited in character slightly more, and I think the Minolta is very so slightly smoother in the transitions from focused area to the defocused area. Some say that when Sony was designing the 85 GM they looked at the Minolta 85 limited as reference, not sure how true, however they have certainly done well to replicate its predecessor.

Speaking stunning optical performance, all the newer 85mm lenses seem to get this right, however character seem to be where most new lenses forgets. Among all of them, the Sony 85 GM seems to get it right, and the new Canon RF 85mm f1.2 lens also seems to have an extremely nice rendering too. I would go as far as saying the Canon RF 85mm f1.2 is the best 85mm that's available in turns of overall optical performance and it seem to match or even slightly beat the Sony GM in bokeh and rendering department, and that means the Minolta 85 limited's bokeh & rendering crown is again challenged... However I do feel the Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L can be almost too sharp sometimes for portraits and that may affect overall character, depends on your preference.

Overall I have to give credit to Minolta to achieve such a great feat many years back and designed a marvel of lens in the from of 85mm limited that continue to stun even today and not even today's very best 85mm lenses can match its unique character.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 4
  • sharpness: 5.00
  • color: 5.00
  • build: 5.00
  • distortion: 5.00
  • flare control: 5.00
  • overall: 5.00
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