Minolta AF 400mm F4.5 HS APO G A-mount lens reviews

reviews found: 44    << 1 2
reviewer#3737 date: Jun-19-2008
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:Tokina 400/5.6
price paid:$1300.00
positive:Super Sharp
Size and Weight
easy to use in field
great with Minolta 1.4 TC
4.5 aperature
negative:none
comment:I love this lens...it is my workhorse wildlife lens. I usually shoot it wide open and it is SHARP. Love the size and weight, easy to use in the field. Crop factor on a700 makes it a 560/4.5 with Super Steady Shot !!

This lens works beautifully with Minolta's 1.4 TC...minolta engineers really designed great teleconverters, I dont see image degredation !

I have shot thousands of pics each year with this lens and it never fails to astonish me how good this lens is. Rugged build and fast accurate focus on my a700. Easy to use in the field due to it's size and weight. I LOVE this lens.

I had a Tokina 400/5.6 and this Minolta 400/4.5 makes that Tokina look sick.

Another awesome Minolta G lens....superb in every way.

reviewer#3601 date: May-15-2008
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:Sigma 500mm APO
price paid:2000 usd (used)
positive:Fast AF
Sharp wide open
Great colors
F4.5 aperture
negative:getting heavy after carrying for two hours
comment:If you can find one and have the budget, buy it!
This lens is amazing. It's heavy, but not too heavy to walk around with it.
The autofocus is fast (on my A700) and spot on in most cases. Sharpness is excellent, from the widest F4.5 up.
Build like a tank and in sexy white colors to make all the others jealous when you shoot next to them in a zoo... 8-)
reviewer#3158 date: Jan-9-2008
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:80-200 HS APO G
200-500 Tamron
Min 500mm Reflex
price paid:Too Much
positive:Can Hand Hold
So Sharp Wide Open
Focus Limiter
negative:Price? Size/Weight? No - you understand all this before you buy it. No negs.
comment:What a wonderful lens! There is a learning curve to get the best from it. I have not had it on a tripod yet, and have shot about 3000 handheld images with it - all those that are not usable are my fault, not the lens. I think this is a perfect BIF, Wildlife, Sports lens as it performs with the 1.4X APO TC about as well as without, and still AF's. Very fast AF (using A700 & A100 is quite good as well). I recently bought a 2X APO TC, but have not had a chance to use it yet - will not AF, but I suspect that IQ will be pretty good. I will report back on that. I must say that if you can find one, buy it. You may have to pay dearly for it, but yes, it is absouletly money well spent.
reviewer#3008 date: Nov-30-2007
sharpness: 5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.6
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:AF APO 80-200, AF APO 4/600mm and AF 100/2.8 macro
price paid:2900 Hfl in 1999
positive:Very sharp, decent opening, weigth is well manageable (compared to 2.8/300 or my 4/600mm for instance).
negative:Slow AF on most bodies (except the Dynax 9 and the A700)
comment:I have used this lens for some 8 years now and can only say I love it. My passion is bird photography and with the Minolta 7D (due to SSS) it also works well without a tripod, which greatly enhances the possibilities for mobile "birding" (rather than dragging a heavy tripod around and sit and wait for the bird to come close one can now actually dynamically roam the environment). On the 7D the AF is quite slow and in low light it exhibits unreliable AF, frequently leading to hunting. On the A700, however, it is a delight, much faster and very accurate AF. Rarily any trouble with hunting.
I have used it with both the APO 1.4 and APO 2 converters. The 1.4 converter still allows working without the tripod in reasonable lighting conditions, but for good sharpness and contrast stopping down at least 1.5 stops is required (i.e. f/9.5 or smaller). With the 2 times converter the optimal f stop for good contrast and sharpness is about f/13. Going lower and one starts to see diffraction effects. So with the 2 times converter this lens is not versatile, but still better than nothing.
reviewer#2880 date: Oct-28-2007
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:SAL 75-300
price paid:2200 USD (Mint)
positive:Fast Focus
Good Range
Feels Sturdy
Can Be Hand-held
negative:Heavy?
comment:I just got this lens and am very pleased so far.
Much faster auto focus than on my zoom. (Especially when sunny)
Seems to hunt a bit on overcast days. The Focus limiter will probably help once I figure it out.
Excited to get 1.4 TC and try that out.
Takes great shots with my A-100.
Did I mention very pleased?
reviewer#2336 date: May-21-2007
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:300mm f4
price paid:2500 US (used-mint)
positive:One of the best telephoto lenses i've ever used. Super sharp, very solid and joy to use.
negative:Big and heavy, but then its better that way, than the smaller plastic ones. Expensive
comment:This is by far my favorite long telephoto lens. My soul sings every time i use it and i love taking it out, mounting on the camera and snapping away.

It is breathtakingly sharp, quite fast, has great color and resolution. Many shots taken with this lens don't need any sharpening or color adjustments. This is definitely a keeper.

While it is noticeably bigger and heavier than 300mm f4, it is sharper wide open (imho). 400mm HS G APO perhaps is the best choice for safari, as it is not going to be as heavy as 600mm f4, but will be better than any other Minolta telephoto for long distance shooting. This one never stops amazing me.
reviewer#2314 date: May-14-2007
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:300/4 & 70-200 SSM
price paid:$2400 US (used)
positive:Nothing but good things to say about this lens. Sharp wide open, lovely bokeh, fast AF...sort of. Very nice nuetral colors, but rich nonetheless
negative:The honkin hood! Dare I complain about the weight??
95mm front filter, no CPL to use with it right now
comment:SWEET piece of glass...I said glass!

So far, besides the fact that you really should use a monopod to keep this thing steady, althought I used it in bright sunlight handheld to catch some flying birds. I love the fact that I can't find any CA in the wide open shots! Just less post processing for me. :) The AF is just a notch slower than my SSM, and it was difficult to track flying pelicans, but managed to hit and miss about 50% of the time.

Very few options for a CPL, unless I buy a 95mm Heliopan for $250. I'll wait for the Sony drop in later.

Check out the sample images for a few of my pics using this treasure.

Never saw any flare with the hood on. Never pointed it into a light source yet either. :)

It has the classic minolta build...tough and durable!
reviewer#2308 date: May-12-2007
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 200-400, Sigma 400 5.6
price paid:2000 USD
positive:very sharp, even with 2x conveter, fast focus
negative:price
comment:Had to have it, so glad i have it.
Carbon Fibre tripod, Wimberly Sidekick, 2x converter,
Perfect for birds and mammals,
reviewer#2185 date: Apr-19-2007
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.8
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:Sigma 400/5,6 APO (old)
price paid:1350€
positive:- relatve light
- useable handheld
- picture quality
negative:- manuell fokus
- hood
comment:This lens can produce very sharp pictures. Even with 1.4x converter. With 2x converter it is still OK when stepping down one step or more. It is useable handheld, but you get better results with a tripod. With converters the sharpness is significant better using MLU too.
The drop in filters are hard to find an the polfilter is very rare and expensive, but works great.
The AF speed is quite good when setting the range from 15m to infinity. But it is loud. With converters the manual focus is very hard to find, I am thinking of removing the gear out of my 2x converter for that.
With distance rings (36mm) I sometimes use it for macro with good results.
The hood is cumbersomely to mount, and is very massive. I would like the hood not to be white.
On the tripod with 1.4x on D7 the balance point is very good, but with the alfa 100 the lens is always top-heavy. That can be annoying when framing.
I like this lens very much and use it 50% of the time outdoor. I would like it much more if it would be an 500/4.5...
reviewer#1825 date: Feb-12-2007
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.9
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I have experience with this lens
compared to:- Sigma 50-500mm DG
- Tamron 200-400mm
- Tokina 400mm f5.6
price paid:offered < $2.1K
positive:-Faster/accurate AF than I expected
-Beautiful color/bokeh
negative:- Price
- Weight/Bulk
- fixed focal length
- sharpness is just a tad better than my Bigma
comment:I have posted some test shots in the lens area and in KM/Sony SLR forums in dpreview. If money is not a problem on my end, I would have kept the lens.
reviewer#1388 date: Nov-6-2006
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:
missing
price paid:Ł1195
positive:Superbly sharp lens - focus range limiter makes speed of focus so much quicker as no risk of hunting
negative:Lens hood is a bit fiddly to get on and off
comment:Just got my first large print back that came from this lens - response around the office was WOW - fantastic detail sharpness - narrow depth of field and all with hand held - no monopod of moving action - Brilliant lens
reviewer#1357 date: Oct-28-2006
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 have experience with this lens
compared to:Minolta 2.8/100 Macro
Sony 1.4/50
Sigma 75-300 APO
Sigma 7.2/500
price paid:1690 Euros (used)
positive:very sharp, ultra sharp when stopped down.
great build quality
can be handheld
no back/front focussing issues
negative:no SSM
a little bit heavy
slightly slow focus
comment:This is a great lens. very sharp - even when compared to the 100mm Macro. can be used also wide open.
I have not tried converters yet, but they are not needed at 1.5x crop factor anyway.
can be handheld, but is a bit heavy. Mono/Tripod is recommended.
Currently gives a nice 600mm with the Sony Alpha100. If Sony ever goes full-frame, the lens can still fully cover the far end of your focal range, when matched with the 1.4x TC. Photography beyond 600mm is anyway too difficult IMO.
Highly recommended.

update: you can get a little bit of purple fringing under extreme conditions... but it's only a very minor issue.
reviewer#419 date: Jan-22-2006
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:Tokina 400 5.6 SD
Minolta 300 f4 G (with TC)
70-200SSM G with TC
price paid:
missing
positive:Super sharp from wide open, and also sharp with 1.4x APO. Relative Price.
negative:Weight but comes with the territory.
Wish the tripod mount was larger.
comment:This is a very sharp lens. Wide open it is already very, very sharp. Not a lot of difference wide open and f8 - That MTF graph is correct!

Watch out for the razor thin DOF though!

Combined with the 1.4x APO it is still good at all apertures although there is gain from stopping down with the TC. A very useful combo 840!mm on the 7D/a700/a900cropped.

The focus speed is ok- provided that it doesnt hunt all the way back and forth. The best way to use this is to utilize the focus limiter (see CTYankees review on how to set this). I ususally set it to 10m-infinity where the adjustments needed are small and so AF is fast.

With 2x TC it is MF only. Needs a lot of care at these focal lengths though as the dof is tiny at closer distances.
At these focal lengths though a very very sturdy tripod is needed or shake will ruin any sharpness.

The AD elements do a really good job to keep CA under control, even when combined with the TCs.

Build is actually very rugged, although hood design is slightly annoying when using wimberley plates as the size needed (not the one stated on the wimberley site - one will need a longer one for balance on a gimbal head!) will mean the hood cannot be reverse stored.

All in all - it is expensive, but compared to its competitors it is almost a super bargain IMO since it offers super sharp f4.5 performance with AS in a relatively holdable package.
reviewer#245 date: Nov-27-2005
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 have experience with this lens
compared to:200/2.8, 100-300 APO, Sigma 75-300 APO.
price paid:
missing
positive:Sharp wide open. Sharp wide open with 1.4X APO.
negative:Big, heavy, expensive, rear filters are rare & expensive. Sluggish AF. Touchy manual focus. Challenges you to get tack sharp results.
comment:Tested on digital camera should be taken with a grain of salt - I actually haven't done any real photography with the 400 since getting the 7D, but I have put it on and taken some "garbage shots" to try it out. Including some shots down the hall of a doorknob where I was able to get 1 out of 3 sharp at 1/60s with antishake !

Anyway, this lens is a beast - "big glass" for under $2000. I'd been looking at the Tokina & Sigma 400/5.6's and then my wife surprised me with this lens one Christmas :) I had been using a Bogen 3221 with the 3030 pan & tilt head and quickly found that to be insufficient. You couldn't compose then lock down the tripod head without the lens drooping. So I upgraded to the 3410 compact Pro head. Much better, but quickly found that to try to photograph small songbirds, I couldn't uses 3 separate controls any more, so upgraded to the Arca-Swiss ball head. The 3221 and AS ball head hold the 400 steady no problem even with the 1.4X APO (560mm equivalent on film). I haven't tried 400 * 1.4X with 1.5X crop factor yet. I feel that I get more consistently sharp images with MLU if using the 1.4X, but am of the impression it doesn't make much difference with the 400 alone.

The 400G is built like a tank. It has a cover over the manual focus ring that lets you hold the lens without your hand interfering with AF ... I use it to keep dust/moisture off the ring, but otherwise have it open as I usually focus manually. There's a variable AF range limiter that's quirky to use. You have to rotate the MF ring to one end or the other, then back to where you want to set the limit in order to get the range from either MFD to your setpoint or from your setpoint to infinity. It can be very handy ... the throw from, say, 50' to infinity is miniscule, and it's entirely likely that you'll be out photographing wildlife that's no closer than 50' on a given day. The AF motor on the old 600si was a dog and terrible with this lens; the 7 & 9 do much better. The APO II TC slows it down tremendously and creates a weird dragging sensation in manual focus mode. The APO (not II) should be better, but was actually more expensive and harder to find.

Manual focus is tricky ... the focus ring is very touchy, and it seems like when you hit the desired focus point, the slightest touch throws it off. I use the anglefinder VN most of the time with this lens. DOF at f/4.5 is shallow.

Sharpness ... awesome from corner to corner and just as sharp at f/4.5 as at f/8.

The lens has a tripod collar with 1/4" and 3/8" threads - I found a plate from either Kirk or RRS (can't remember - contact me if you need to know) that keeps it locked down solid in the ball head. It's very handy to be able to rotate the lens.

There's a huge (95mm I think) front filter - clear glass supplied with the lens. There's also a rear drop-in filter holder that takes 42mm filters (impossible to find elsewhere). A clear glass one was supplied. Other G lenses, like the 300/2.8 may come with a variety of colored filters for b&w photography. The only filter I'm interested in is the polarizer - that's $399 from B&H. It comes with it's own holder with a geared wheel that rotates the filter inside the housing. Still overpriced, IMO. It took a couple years before I finally found one for $250 used. The f/4.5 VF image is a bit darker than other lenses (I have some f/2.8s) to begin with, so on a couple occasions, I forgot that I had the CPOL in the lens, and suffered with slower shutter speeds unnecessarily.

The lens shade is a huge, deep thing with black flocking inside that makes flare a non-issue.

It can be a bit challenging to really max out this lens (at least on slide film; maybe not so much on 6MP APS). You have to nail the focus at f/4.5 and the lens has to be stable. It's big enough with the lens shade to catch some wind and vibrate ... and I've been nervous enough about a top-heavy configuration in windy conditions to drop the tripod down to its lowest setting once or twice.

The lens comes with a sturdy case that's totally impractical in the field. I use a backpack with room to fit the lens vertically in the center. I travelled to Yellowstone Park with the lens and would happily carry it anywhere like that where I knew I'd take advantage of it. But I'll leave it behind otherwise (I didn't take it to Utah, knowing there would be more than enough to photograph from 280mm down).

You can check specs on minimum focus and max magnification ... they're not all that great ... don't buy this lens for long distance closeups. But you can do photographs of small birds with it.

That's all I can think of. Hopefully I'll get some images up (scanned film) soon. Email or post w/any questions.
reviews found: 44    << 1 2

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 44
  • sharpness: 4.92
  • color: 4.86
  • build: 4.89
  • distortion: 4.95
  • flare control: 4.82
  • overall: 4.89

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