Minolta AF 35-200mm xi F4.5-5.6 A-mount lens reviews

reviews found: 23   
reviewer#44220 date: Jan-28-2019
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 1
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 3.4
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sigma 28-200mm
price paid:20 USD
positive:Nice lens for travel with solid IQ for a superzoom; works very well with my A55's IBIS despite 200mm being pretty long on APS-C
negative:No aperture control, zoom, nor focus (neither AF nor manual) on LA-EA4
comment:I was hoping this might be a better-IQ walk-around lens for my A7, A7RI, etc., using the LA-EA4. Well, the LA-EA4 doesn't see it at all. It works very well on my old A55, where I'd say it's shockingly good for an old superzoom -- probably better than the Sigma 28-200mm, although not as sharp. Even the power zoom isn't bad... but this lens is literally unusable on my E bodies (e.g., A7RII), which is extra sad because it looks like the IQ matches FF better than APS-C. It also wasn't quite happy on my old A350. This is why the 1 build rating.

I knew there were issues with some xi lenses, but I foolishly figured that "SLT compatible" meant likely to work (at least partially) on an LA-EA4... Sadly, I was wrong. :-(
reviewer#26558 date: Apr-21-2016
sharpness: 3.5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.1
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
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Sony DT 18-135 SAM
Sony DT 18-200 F3.5-6.3
Tamron 18-250
Minolta AF 28-135
Sigma AF 35-135 F3.5-4.5
Tokina AF 35-200 SD
Tokina 35-300
Sigma 50-150 F2.8 EX DC HSM II
Sony DT 55-200 SAM
Sony E 55-210 OSS
Sony DT 55-300 SAM
Sigma 70-200 F2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM
Sigma AF 70-200 F2.8 EX DG APO
Minolta AF 70-210 F4
Minolta AF 70-210 F3.5-4.5
Minolta AF 70-210 F4.5-5.6 I/II
Tokina 80-200 AT-X Pro
price paid:43 USD (used)
positive:Very fast AF
Internal focus (and not much focus breathing)
Very little distortion
62 mm filter threads
negative:Varifocal
Manual focus-by-wire (MF requires AF to be enabled)
Very slow MF (6.5 seconds from MFD to infinity)
Fairly curved focus plane
Maximum aperture decreases quickly
Slightly warm color cast
Small circular hood
comment:The first nice looking copy was purchased at auction from a private seller on eBay. Unfortunately the aperture mechanism is sticky, but otherwise the lens works well. The seller gave me a partial refund. The second copy is much softer, but the aperture mechanism works properly.

Unlike many other lenses the outer barrel turns only by zooming. A normal manual zoom can be enabled by the switch on the lens which disconnects the zoom motor. Manual zoom is then accomplished by turning the outer barrel while pushing/pulling similar to the manual focus operation 70-210/4 and the kits zooms. The rubber manual zoom grip is very small and is very blocked by the small clip-on hood. The filter threads do not turn with focus but do turn with zoom.

The lens is very varifocal. The Minolta service manual even describes this lens and the 28-105 xi lens as "electronic-compensation zoom lens Varifocal type." Even the minimum focus distance marked on the lens is given as a range from "0.5 - 1m". Closest focus is at 35 mm. The A58 automatically but imperfectly adjusts the focus after every zoom even in AF-S mode and this done without using the AF sensors.

There is a zoom motor in the lens, but AF and MF use the in-body AF drive. The variable speed zoom/focus control works pretty well, but a slower minimum speed would be helpful for MF when fully zoomed in. Focus peaking is also not available on the A58 and A65 for manual focus with this lens since the camera has to have AF enabled for MF to work. Focus peaking is enabled on the A68. The MF speed seems to be a single very slow speed is not affected by the AF drive speed setting on the A68.

When focused accurately the first copy was very sharp in the center even at 200 mm. It wasn't quite as sharp nor is the focal plane as flat as the Sony DT 55-200, but it has much less distortion. It also doesn't have as much focus breathing as most internal-focus zooms. The 55-200 reports 160 mm at a similar field-of-view as the 200 mm end of this lens at close focus.

Any zoom causes defocusing which is then partially corrected by the camera's AF motor after the zoom motion is completed. This is acceptable for still photography, but poor behavior for video recording. The zoom motor and required in-body AF drive are both rather noisy.

Comparison of Tokina and Minolta 35-200 mm Zooms with others.
reviewer#11956 date: Aug-21-2014
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 3
overall: 4.3
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:28-300 lenses, Minolta APO 100-300, Sigma 24-70
price paid:150EUR
positive:Very sharp across the range, marginal distortion and vignetting, internal focusing. Motor zoom makes it very useful for movies.
negative:Somewhat prone to flare. Very complicated build.
comment:I've been looking for some years for good exemplar because most of them available on Ebay etc. are in poor condition. Not only the most interesting of xi lenses, but also probably the best full frame ultrazoom ever made: it's not very fast, but really sharp full frame at any aperture. Extremely hard if even possible to find a service that can maintain this gem. As it is available only second hand you should ask seller twice whether motor zoom and aperture works properly before buying, if one cannot confirm it, keep away. Power zoom motor had been waiting over 20 years for SLT-A99 and now shows its best.
reviewer#11755 date: Apr-6-2014
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 3
overall: 3.8
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony 28-75
Tamron 70-200
Sony 70-400 G2
price paid:$135
positive:Great range on full frame for a walk around lens
Low cost
Power zoom works surprisingly well
Pretty sharp stopped down
negative:Manual focus is not practical

comment:I purchased this lens as a walk around lens because I prefer a bit more reach than my 28-75 offers and this one had been reviewed well. The only issue I've had with this lens was finding one without a sticky aperture. The third copy did the trick and has performed well. It's not quite as sharp as several of my other lenses but is acceptably sharp wide open and pretty good stopped down a stop or two. I find it to be a good compromise of cost, sharpness and range.
reviewer#11559 date: Dec-26-2013
sharpness: 5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 4
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:35-105
28-135
28-85
16-105
price paid:100$
positive:Range, built, sharpness
negative:Not wide enough for APSC
comment:This lens is a bit suprise for me. On my A77 it behaving great, extremely sharp and fast focus.
reviewer#11269 date: Jul-25-2013
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta 35-105 original
Tamron F 35-135
price paid:81 GBP used
positive:Sharpness
Colour
Range
Well built
negative:Manual focus ???
35 not wide on APSC
comment:IQ is almost as good as the two excellent lenses I compared it with. Might be a tad less sharp, but it is still very sharp.

Motorised zoom might not be everybody's cup of tea but it works well enough. Precise composition can always be achieved with some slight cropping.

Highly recommended if you can live with 35 at the short end.
reviewer#11025 date: Apr-9-2013
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.2
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:28-135
80-200 2.8
28-85
35-70 4
price paid:
missing
positive:Wide focal range on FF
Build quality
Color
Cheap
Light
negative:Wide end max aperture 4.5
comment:Pretty useful lens for outdoors and surprisingly good with bounce flash indoors. Color is great, I feel that this is a very underrated lens.

The zoom is awkward and manual focusing is difficult, but I rarely MF in good light anyway.

Overall this lens is more useful to me than the 28-135 because of the MFD dilemma.

Videos shot with this lens on a99 are generally great quality at F4.5-5.6.

Overall I'd say this lens is my best value purchase to date.
reviewer#10560 date: Oct-4-2012
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.7
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Beercan, Sony 55-200mm, 100-300mm APO
price paid:180
positive:Sharp, Bokeh
negative:CA, not really wide on APS-C
comment:I am very surprised how sharp the lens is at 200mm wide open.
It's not a fast lens, but the bokeh and sharpness is on par with the beercan at 200mm 5.6. The MFD is only 500mm which is good for close-up photo.
This lens even is sharper the Min 100-300mm APO!
At the short end, it's not really wide on APS-C cameras.
I prefer this lens to the combo (35-105mm + 100-300APO)
reviewer#9494 date: Oct-13-2011
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 3
overall: 4.1
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
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Sigma 17-70 f2.8-4
Minolta 50 f1.7
18-70 Kit Lens
70-210 f3.5-4.5
price paid:80 GBP (Used)
positive:Very sharp in good light
Built like a tank
Powered zoom
Nice bokeh
negative:CA can be very bad
Supplied hood is useless
Heavy
Range not quite usable enough on APS-C
comment:This was my first upgrade from the kit lens and difference in IQ and sharpness blew me away. On good day in decent light this lens is capable of producing spectacular results with great colour and creamy bokeh.

I guess you love or hate the powered zoom, but once I got used to it, it was great (although not so when manual focussing) - and didn't seem to place any excessive drain on the battery.

The lens is built to last and feels like a premium piece of kit - I was quite surprised at the difference when I purchased my next lens (70-210). As a result though it is quite heavy and doesn't balance that well on an A200 body.

The range is useful (excellent on FF I imagine) for a medium tele zoom but not quite the walkaround lens it wants to be when on APS C. I began to find the 35mm short end just not wide enough and also a bit slow to be really useful.

The Minolta hood supplied is about 10mm deep and completely pointless, it does nothing to help control flare or CA.

Eventually sold it (for a profit) when I'd had enough of the excessive CA (even in lower contrast situations) and covered the range with other lenses I consider superior. However I did enjoy it whilst it lasted and would definitley reccommend it to anyone upgrading from the kit lens - seem to be pretty rare these days though so end up going for a bit more than I'd be happy to pay.
reviewer#8129 date: Oct-24-2010
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
ownership:I have experience with this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:
missing
positive:good range
sharp
color
price
negative:no distance scale
comment:
missing
reviewer#7952 date: Sep-8-2010
sharpness: 3.5
color: 3
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 3
overall: 3.7
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Beercan
24-105D
price paid:usd 95 used
positive:short 6x zoom
light
indestructible
common filter size
negative:color fringing
lack of acuity
pernickety zoom
cold colors
comment:I bought this lens for my daughter as a one-size fits all lens for her young children. It's good enough -- just; but it's just not Minolta.

The original xi plan called for eight electrical contacts -- but it's not capable of using its eight contacts as Automatic Distance Integration for flash, any more than any other non-D lens is. The original concept of maintaining focus size on a moving object while zooming automatically isn't implemented in any non-xi camera. The electric zoom assist sometimes assists, and sometimes annoys. So this lens stands and falls on its image quality -- which is certainly OK, but is not better than OK.

The lens produces a brighter image on the sensor than appears in the viewfinder -- consistently, and this is different from all my other Minolta lenses -- so I think it was designed differently from the normal Minolta color scheme. The colors aren't Minolta, but colder: there are a lot of color shifts to purple at the edges; the edges of objects appear more definite than normal, but that is modified by the lack of that really clear focus that Minolta lenses normally show.

It's not a bad lens -- on a grey evening tonight, using a Tamron 1.4X I could distinguish a hummingbird on a palm frond 120 feet distant. That's not bad at all -- but it's just not as good as the beercan, which can do this better, and without the extender.

It's short for a 200mm; it's light. It's very inexpensive at about $100-125 on the web. It's exactly the lens to throw in a backpack and bump around -- except there's always a really good scene one wants in that case; one wants the best image in the end, and the beercan is better. Heavier, but noticeably better.

I want to like this lens. I want to give it to my daughter, but I won't. If it doesn't really satisfy me, why should I expect it to satisfy her? I've got two other xis -- 28-105 and 80-200, and I like them less.
reviewer#7562 date: Jun-13-2010
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 3
overall: 4.3
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta 28-135
Minolta 35-105 (o)
price paid:€80 used
positive:Range ( not on APS-C )
Surprisingly sharp
negative:Noisy
MF not very user friendly
comment:I'm on my third specimen of this very "funny" lens - either you love the proportional motorised zoom control or you hate it. The rest of the xi line is of little interest, but this lens excel. Together with Ol' Iron Clad ( 25-135 (o) ) this is my walk around on a900.
reviewer#7510 date: May-30-2010
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.7
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Tokina ATX 24-200
Sigma 28-200 DL
Tamron 28-300 LD
price paid:57 GBP
positive:Sharp
Colour
Build
negative:Manual focus not good
comment:Better than the rest. Its a Minolta, but not as useful.

Uncomfortable focal length range o digital, but You know that when you buy. Get fed up with saying this.

If you are on a budget BUY it. If you can afford expensive glass well that's your call.

Competent to very good all round lens.
reviewer#7260 date: Apr-7-2010
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 3
overall: 4.1
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:

Sigma 28-70 2.8 EX DG
Minolta 35-105 RS
Minolta 28-135
Minolta 135 2.8
Minolta 100 2.0
price paid:100 €
positive:Very sharp even wide open
Good zoom range
negative:Noisy
comment:Nice color and sharpness. I like the lens, its size and the weight of less than 500 grams. I have compared it to the Minolta 28-135, which I have sold, while I have kept this lens because it delivered sharper pictures. The motorized zoom produces a strange noise, but who knows - maybe motorized xi zooms will become popular again with new Alphas offering video functionallity. For me this is an underrated lens. Maybe this is because of the last two reviews here where the the positive comments don't fit the ratings.
Flare is pretty pronounced. While skiing I took some pictures close to the sun's direction - people looked like ghosts with a blue contour. Therefore I lowered flare to 3.
reviewer#5721 date: Jul-18-2009
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.5
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony 18-70 (kit)
Sony 75-300
Minolta 35-105 RS
Minolta 50 f1.7
price paid:50 USD (used)
positive:good range
power zoom (different but neat)
good minolta colors
negative:we'll see about durability
52mm (ASP-C)
comment:I bought this lens off ebay and was hoping for the best. I was anxious to see if the previous 8 reviews were biased or reliable. I've only had the lens for 2 days now and I'm throughly impressed. The range is better than any of my other lens and the power zoom is, dare I say, fun. I'm going to try it out more, but I think this will finally replace my kit lens for my walk-around. Will update after a couple weeks of experimenting with it.
reviewer#5579 date: Jun-22-2009
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:18-70mm DT
24mm/2.8
price paid:170 USD
positive:sharp
nice colors
compact
great range
negative:no scale
comment:This is a very underrated lens. This lens produces sharp image. At wide open (F-4.5), the sharpness is acceptable. It is much sharper when stopped down a little. Very good range.
reviewer#5248 date: Apr-18-2009
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.3
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:18-70 kit lens
100-200 4.5 Maxxum
price paid:75 USD
positive:Sharp
Solid build quality
Great zoom range
negative:52mm on crop DSLR
comment:I think this will be on my 7d most of the time. I wish it was a 28-200, but you can't have everything for the price I paid. I actually don't mind the power zoom, now I think I will try to get the xi 28-105.

I'll still use the 100-200 4.5 indoors for head shots. And I can use the kit 18-70 for wide.

I posted some shots with this lens on my Picasa site at:
http://picasaweb.google.com/jonflan/TroyAlleyViews#
reviewer#5108 date: Mar-27-2009
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.5
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Beercan
Sony 24-105mm
Min 28-135mm
price paid:L63
positive:Compact
Sharp
Colours
Focus speed
negative:35mm limits use as a walkaround lens on APS-C
comment:I've been pleasantly surprised by how sharp this lens is. Vivid colours too. I actually like the powerzoom but it does have it's drawbacks when dealing with moving targets.

35-200mm doesn't quite cut it as a single lens solution on APS-C but it makes a nice companion to a 17-35mm (update: even better on FF and is my favourite travel lens).

An interesting feature of this lens is the focus speed. It is very fast to focus, making it excellent for fast moving action - sports, dogs ect.


reviewer#4142 date: Sep-28-2008
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:My other lenses.
price paid:
missing
positive:Small, light, great range, motorzoom, stopbutton, versatile. Build is nice too and it doesn't easily scratch. Great Minolta Colours.
negative:Only F4.5-5.6
comment:For our holiday in the Maledives I was a bit reluctant to bring my heavy and expensive stuff. As I didn't know the circumstances and didn't think sand, water and sun would benifit them. So I bought a second hand 7D which I received with two lenses, this one being one of those.
And I must say I am not dissapointed at all. The other reviews say it all, especially Artuks. I just can add that I was very pleasently surprised.
reviewer#2526 date: Jul-9-2007
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 3
overall: 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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta 24-105 f3.5-4.5 D
Minolta 70-210 f4
Minolta 100-300 f4.5-5.6 D
price paid:Ł80 used
positive:Incredible focal length range
Very good sharpness
Compact
negative:Slow
Manual Focus difficult with Xi
comment:When Minolta launched this lens in the easrly 1990s, most wide range zooms were optically compromised in some way, usually with bad vignetting or mediocre resolution. This was probably the first lens to offer this focal length range and excellent optical performance. It was very well reviewed at the time and blew away the concerns regarding lenses of this type. The complexity and performance of it's design was reflected in it's launch price of Ł600.

Produced during one of Minoltas many phases for adding arguably un-necessary automation, the Xi series lenses all feature a motorised zoom drive, rather than the more traditional manual mechanical zoom. When the zoom ring is turned, a motor in the lens powers the zoom. The speed of zooming is controlled by the amount of rotation applied to the zoom ring. It takes a little time to get used to, but with practice it becomes more natural to apply a small turn to zoom the lens slowly, or a larger turn to zoom the lens quickly.

Manual focus uses the same motorised arrangement, the zoom ring being pulled towards the camera and turned to engage the manual focus. Again, the degree of turn of the ring controls the speed of the focus drive.

A focus hold button is also present, used to lock the AF independently of the metering on most Minolta bodies. Some cameras of the same vintage as the lens, such as the 700Si, also allow the focus lock button to control the zoom. When a subject is moving toward or away from the camera and the focus lock button is pressed, the lens will automatically zoom within its range to keep the subject to the same scale within the frame as it moves. Ingeniously and surprisingly useful!

The lens offers very good optical performance across it's range. Even at full aperture it is surprisingly sharp. The central image is good across it's focal length range, though at full aperture corners suffer a little at 35mm on full frame. Stopped down, the optical performance is very good. I would regard it as good as some of it's more recent 3rd party alternatives from Sigma and Tamron in the 28-200mm range .

Colour and contrast are very good. Colours is quite saturated and in the Minolta tradition, although perhaps not in the same style as some of the older Minolta "classic" lens designs (e.g. Minolta 28-135 f4-4.5). Contrast is quite high but maintains shadow and highlight detail surprisingly well. I would suggest that high edge contrast is used to give the impression of high resolution, as with some other Minolta lens designs (e.g. some generations of Minolta 100-300 f4.5-5.6). This is not unique and is often used in "mid range" lens designs that sit between entry level "kit" lenses and high-end "prefessional / premium" designs. The overall effect is quite pleasing.

The build is very good, a mixture of engineering grade plastic and metal. The livery is typical of early to mid-1990s Minolta "re-styled" lenses, and is fairly resistant to marks.

Distortion is also very well controlled for a zoom lens with such an ambitious focal length range. There is inevitably some barreling at the wide end, and a little pin-cushion distortion at the long end. This may preclude it from use for critical architectural work, but for general photography it is unobtrusive.

Flare control is also good. The front element is 62mm, but unfortunately the supplied Minolta lens hood is almost useless, a uniformly thin piece of plastic (not petal shaped) to match it's 35mm wide end. Light sources in the image may cause some flare, as may strong light sources in front of the camera but out of frame. Overall, a good to very good performance.

The biggest criticism I can raise against this lens is its modest speed. This is the only reason that I would not use it for general photography. None-the-less, on full frame the lens is a surprisingly good "fair weather" travel tool.

A often overlooked possible classic.
reviewer#1914 date: Mar-6-2007
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.2
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Tamron 35-105 2.8
beercan
big beercan
tamron 17-50 2.8
etc etc
price paid:89 USD used
positive:fast zoom
very fast autofocus
sharp when stepped down
negative:not useful in low light
comment:Tough to put this lens into a specific category, but the more I use it the more I come to appreciate it. When carried with the 17-50 makes a great all around lightweight package. I have not done formal testing, but it just seems to autofocus faster than anything else I have on my a100, including newer digital lenses. All around a very fun and useful lens.

Build quality is fantastic. Would love to see more reviews and a formal comparison test done with modern super zooms. I suspect this will do as well if not better than those.
reviewer#1627 date: Jan-9-2007
sharpness: 3
color: 3
build: 3
distortion: 3
flare control: 3
overall: 3
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
ownership:I have experience with this lens
compared to:- Min 18-200, Min 28-75D, Min 100-200, Min 100-300 APO
- (also some G's, but that's not a fair deal...)
price paid:traded : 2nd 100-200
positive:- really handy
- best Superzoom available for price and quality
negative:- MF mode tricky
comment:Truly a hidden treasure for digital! The image quality is far beyond that what we usually expect from xi-Motorzooms. Distortion, sharpness and contrast are quite good even if they are not catching up completely with the compared zooms. But for the given zoomrange the results are really good. I would (and have) discard the 18-200 for this lens. Usually I prefer changing my lens to the needed specialist (zoom and/or primes), but if I just can't change at all, this is my choice. AF is quite ok (faster and at least as precise as my 28-75 but noisier), Zooming takes getting used to it: the more you turn the ring, the faster the motorzoom is going... but after max. 10 minutes you know how to handle it. ManualFocussin is, well, just a mess...
Final Verdict: good value for little money
reviewer#1240 date: Sep-26-2006
sharpness: 3
color: 3
build: 3
distortion: 3
flare control: 3
overall: 3
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:28-105xi, 100-300, 100-300APO, 80-200 F2.8
price paid:Ł55 sterling (s/h)
positive:Excellent zoom range on one lens from Minolta. Optics are clear.
negative:Power zoom is far too slow. Manual focusing is nigh on impossible
comment:Good for the range, but I suspect most people will get fed up with the slow zoom. I've relegated it to my 'in car' 35mm camera. If I'm somewhere without the rest of my kit and I see a photo opportunity, it has the range to capture most subjects
reviews found: 23   

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 23
  • sharpness: 4.24
  • color: 4.43
  • build: 4.35
  • distortion: 4.30
  • flare control: 3.74
  • overall: 4.21

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