Today I take a look at the second lens in my “vintage/older” lenses series.
The Minolta 35-200 F4.5-F5.6.
Lens : Minolta 35-200mm F4.5 – F5.6
Year : app 1990’s
Price paid : 55.00 EURO
Place bought : Marktplaats/Ebay
I bought this lens as a walk around lens and for this price I could not let it pass. Now I’ve tested some “megazooms” in the past and actually never kept one. There was always a reason why I loved them, but there were always more reasons why I did not, or one reason (image quality, AF speed) why I did not.
The funny thing about this lens is that it actually shows you that it is possible to create a “megazoom” without sacrificing too much on image quality, now don’t get me wrong, this is not a lens that is razor sharp wide open which is of course what you can expect, HOWEVER having said that it’s MUCH sharper than any other “megazoom” I ever tested, and because the AF is also fast enough I’m almost 100% sure that this cheap lens will be my new walk around lens.
Now some would say, “why would you want such a lens if you own the Zeiss 24-70 f2.8?”
Well I understand the question, however I often find that I do miss shots with the Zeiss because it only has a reach of 70mm, somehow I always see stuff that’s close that I love and stuff that’s further away that I love, and changing lenses constantly is not an option for me, I want to leave my hotel and walk around without a bag, just one lens one camera, and that often means I do miss some shots (or have to crop a lot). So a good “superzoom” is great if it delivers good images. And with this kind of shots I don’t mind a little bit less sharpness I just want a good image quality and large reach, does the Minolta give me this?
Image quality and handling
Image quality of the 35-200 is good, it’s not stellar but it beats the alternatives hands down, I think you can compare it with a good 3rd party 28-75 lens. It’s usable wide open and stopped down it’s sharp as a tack. There is some CA in the images but this is removed 100% by LightRoom so that’s not a real issue. What I do like about this lens (again) is the 3D look it gives, it’s not as nice as the 135mm f2.8 but it’s so much better than what I expected.
The only thing that does is a bit weird/getting used to from this lens is the power zoom, yeah you read it correctly, there is a ring around the lens and by turning that ring the lens will zoom automatically, same goes for manual focus (pull it back and turn). Now this sounds like a nice gadget option (and it is) but if I have to say something negative about the lens than this is it. I’ve now used the lens for a studio session and almost got used to the powerzoom so I’m sure that it will be ok in a while but I still find that the negative thing about the lens (it can break).
Now what really stood out for me where the colors of the lens, I LOVE them.
Here you see a sample of straight out of the camera and the retouched version with just a touch of Alien Skin exposure 4.
In the studio the lens performed really nice, thanks to the A99 focus was snappy although I did hunt sometimes with high contrast lighting setups, but what’s to expect for a F5.6 lens (on 200mm) outside the lens snapped into focus very quickly and that’s where I will be using this lens.
Some studio shots with the lens.
For the price I paid this is a no brainer.
If you want a great walk around lens and you don’t need a fast lens this is without a doubt a great alternative to everything on the market in that reach. If you want topnotch quality wide open you will have to go for the 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8 but that means carrying a bag, and with this lens you’re very “stealth” (although you hear the powerzoom) because even at 200mm people will not think you’re shooting so “close” and that’s something I love about it.
Image quality is good to very good when stopped down, AF speed is good enough.
The only thing is the power zoom but when you get used to it it’s something that you can live with it.
As walk around lens I love this one.
Next week I will bring it with me to Birmingham and start testing it on the street, so expect a second blog post about it.
Used the lens today and I can confirm the lens is razorsharp and the the 3D look and colors are outstanding, I’m really surprised you can score this lens for around 50.00 euro, it’s without any doubt in a totally different league than the Sigmas and Tamrons in that range.