Minolta AF Reflex 500mm F8 A-mount lens review by Phil Wood

reviewer#44495 date: Apr-9-2020
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.4
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:Vivitar 500mm mirror
Sigma 170-500mm F5-6.3 APO Aspherical
price paid:160 GBP
Light for its FL,
The only AF mirror hence a collector's item
negative:Never really sharp, fixed aperture reduces photo options.
Internal filters
comment:Mirror lenses are in a class of their own as portable long focal length lenses, but they have well understood issues with the fixed aperture and doughnut bokeh. Once you come to terms with these and accept the limitations they place on what you can do with them they become fun to use.
The Minolta is the only AF mirror lens ever made for a 35mm SLR by any lens manufacturer, making it a novelty collectable, but it is also a very capable lens. Most 500mm mirrors are T2 mounts made by third party manufacturers, such as the Vivitar I also own - the Minolta is larger, but far superior in every other aspect.
The obvious use of a 500mm lens is for longer distance shooting, bringing birds closer etc - however, my Sigma zoom (very similar price) outperforms the Minolta mirror in this role, the zoom makes it easier to frame the shot, the image is sharper and the variable aperture allows some control of depth of field. Nevertheless the size of the mirror makes it easier (not easy) to handhold. I usually shoot with a monopod, once I get a tripod out I may as well take the zoom.
I am far more likely to use the mirror for closer (though not close given the MFD) shots, where the doughnut bokeh can be used to good effect.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 89
  • sharpness: 4.34
  • color: 4.36
  • build: 4.63
  • distortion: 4.80
  • flare control: 4.33
  • overall: 4.49
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