Minolta AF 100-200mm F/4.5 Review - Photo Jottings

Minolta AF 100-200mm F/4.5 Review

Here’s a brief look at the Minolta AF 100-200mm F/4.5 telephoto zoom lens.  Scroll down for the main review.

Minolta AF 100-200mm F/4.5
Box contents
Front and rear caps, hood, and users manual.
Available on eBay for around $100, depending on condition.
Build quality
Very good
Additional information
Lower price alternative to the Minolta AF 70-210mm F/4
Specifications below
Optical configuration
8 elements in 7 groups
Angle of view
24°-12° full frame, 16°-8° APS-C.
7 blades, straight
Full frame and APS-C
Yes, full frame and APS-C.   APS-C equivalent, 150-300mm
Depth of field and focus scales?
Distance window, and IR marks at 100mm, and 200mm.
Minimum focus, image plane to subject
76″  (1.9m)
Minimum focus, end of lens barrel to subject
68.5″  (1.74mm)
Hard stop at infinity focus?
Length changes when focusing?
Focus ring turns in AF?
Filter size
Filter ring rotates?
Distance encoder?
Max magnification
Min. F/stop
Sony teleconverter compatible?
Length changes when zooming?
Dimensions WxL  (my measurements)
2.75″ x 3.74″   70mm x 95mm
Maximum  extended length (my measurements)
5.35″  (136mm)  includes 11mm focus extension
Weight bare (my scale)
13.3oz  (377g)  14oz (397g) with caps
Requisite product shots.
Lens and hood at shortest height
Front element.
Side view, full zoom and maximum focus extention
Backside mount.
100-200mm F/4.5 extended, 70-210mm F/4, 100-200mm F/4.5 drawn in.
The Sony A700 and A900 were used for this review.  For full frame results, go to the bottom of the page.  For a better understanding of terms and methods used in this review, go here.
To view the original owner’s manual, go here.
The Minolta AF 100-200mm F/4.5 was issued as a less expensive alternative to the Minolta AF 70-210mm F/4 telephoto zoom lens in the late 80s.  The 70-210mm F/4 retailed around $229, the 100-200mm F/4.5 about $159.
This lens extends out when zooming, unlike the 70-210mm which zooms internally, it’s also 1/3 stop slower at F/4.5.  Currently, Sony has no equivalent lens, and I wouldn’t expect them to come out with anything in this range, ever.  The lens color is standard AF Minolta satin black, shinier than the Sony black.  The zoom ring tension is about right in my opinion, and doesn’t want to creep out when you walk.  There are focal length marks at 100, 150mm, and 200mm.  It has a focus distance window, with two infra-red focus index marks at 200mm and 100mm.  The EXIF data doesn’t match up with the focal length marks.  At 150mm, data reads 140mm, and sometimes there are long spaces between changes in readings.  This is no big deal if you take note of how far off each focal length is and record it, I never do this.  I can’t find any info about “ED” elements or special coatings used.  This lens is multi-coated and has the typical older-style magenta cast.
Auto-focusing is a little slow and loud, but seems accurate.  Manual focusing takes just over 1/4 turn from Close-in to infinity.  The focus ring doesn’t extend as you turn it, (like the 70-210mm F/4) and is very narrow and hard to grip.  These lenses were never really meant to be focused manually.  The barrel will extend out another 11mm when focusing up close.
Lens flare/ghosting.  About average control for a 1980s zoom, and about the same as the Minolta AF 70-210mm F/4.  I see a color blob if the sun is at the edge, or inside the image.  Look below for examples.  Veiling glare seems a little strong, so prepare to block the sun or other super-bright light source to keep the contrast up in your shots.  As usual, the hood really doesn’t help much, but when shooting with the sun close to the frame, I’d put it on for good measure.
Color fringing (CA).  Good control.  I see some axial color fringing wide open at all focal lengths, though no big deal as this type of CA goes away as you stop down.  Look for mild amounts (purple/red) at F/4.5, and mild to none stopped down.
Bokeh.  Not so smooth, especially towards the long end and wide open.  I like the stopped down look at 100mm best.  I’d say the bokeh of this lens is not quit as good as the Minolta AF 70-210mm F/4.  Look below for sample crops.
Color.   Same as Sony lenses, or very slightly warm.
Coma.  Nothing to speak of, even with full frame coverage.
Regular filters cause no problems on full frame or APS-C cameras.
Filter size is 49mm.  Sony uses this size on only one lens, the 28mm F/2.8.  This size is also used on the Minolta AF 35-70mm kit lenses from the 80s and 90s.
Distortion.  You’ll notice moderate pincushion distortion at all zoom lengths using an APS-C camera, and moderate to heavy pincushion distortion with full frame coverage.  Look below for examples.
Distortion examples
100mm, moderate pincushion distortion.
Moderate pincushion at 200mm.


Lens flare/ghosting examples


100mm F/5.6
120mm F/5.6
100mm F/4.5
100mm F/5.6
200mm F/4.5
200mm F/5.6
200mm F/4.5 foreground blur
200mm F/4.5 background blur
Minolta 100-200mm F/4.5 @200mm F/5.6 color fringing
Minolta 70-210mm F/4 @210mm F/5.6 color fringing
I see a small color blob, or multi-colored blob when the sun is close to the edge of the frame, or inside the image. This lens has the usual amount of veiling glare when the sun is just out of the frame.  You can help control this problem by using your hand to shield the lens, I find lens hoods really don’t do a very good job at eliminating this stuff.  Shooting the sun when it’s in the center of the image results in a faint haze around the sun.  Dark backgrounds and foregrounds exacerbate problems with flare and ghosting, such as the examples above.  Overall, I’d day the results above are similar to the Minolta AF 70-210mm F/4.
Bokeh, (cropped) looks somewhat harsh, especially towards 200mm.  I like the look of F/5.6 near 100mm best, though heptagons just barely start to show up (more at 200mm) at that aperture.  The last row shows how the foreground blur looks smoother than the background blur, which is a little unusual, it’s normally the other way around.
Color fringing, bottom row.  The 100-200mm has minimal axial CA, which can occur anywhere in the picture, not just along the sides.  The good news is that this type of color fringing (or CA) lessens as you stop down the aperture.  The 70-210mm F/4 shows slightly stronger color fringing at all apertures.  Both are cropped images.
Light fall-off.
See the crops below.  Light fall-off or corner shading is mild at F/4.5 and 100mm, what little there is blends nicely towards the middle.  This is not noticeable in actual pictures.
           100mm F/4.5
             100mm F/5.6
           200mm F/4.5 
             200mm F/5.6
Center and corner sharpness. 

Below are crops from the image centers at 100mm.

              100mm F/4.5
           100mm F/5.6


Images at 100mm, F/4.5 are just as sharp as they are stopped down, which is great, so feel free to shoot wide open with this lens.  Don’t stop down past F/8  if possible as diffraction sets in and softens the image slightly.  I see some axial color fringing here, and this shot brings out the worst in a lens.  In normal pictures, it’s hardly noticeable, and lessens some as you stop down, but it doesn’t go away completely, even at F/11.


Now the 100mm corner crops.


           100mm F/4.5
              100mm F/5.6
           100mm F/8
              100mm F/4.5 from center
The 100mm corner crops show no improvement by stopping down, oh well.  I threw in a crop from the center to show the difference.
Below, look at the 200mm centers.
              200mm F/4.5
           200mm F/5.6


The 200mm center crops show slightly sharper results by stopping down to F/5.6.  F/8 looks the same, then softening occurs by F/11.


200mm corners below.


           200mm F/4.5
              200mm F/5.6
           200mm F/8
              200mm F/4.5 from center
I see very little gain in sharpness between the extreme corner crops by stopping down, and that’s good.  I have a center shot in the bottom right which illustrates my conclusion.

Let’s check out the macro capabilities of this lens.

Below, check out the 100% cropped portion of the full image.  The sample shot was taken with the Sony A 700 12.2MP camera.  The subject is a standard US stamp, 1″x 3/4″ or 25.4mm x 19mm.  Also, note the macro shot was taken as close to the subject as focusing allowed; in this case a horrendously long 68.5″ (1.74m), measured from the front of the lens barrel to the subject.
This lens has a poor reproduction size of just 0.12x, and the close focus shot (F/11) is pretty dull and lacks contrast, but real pictures farther away look fine.  The Minolta AF 70-210mm F/4 has a far better close focus shot, with a maximum reproduction size of 0.25x.
As close as you can get. F/11. No link to larger image.




Bonus section with comparisons.


Minolta AF 100-200mm F/4.5
Minolta AF 70-210mm F/4
           200mm F/4.5
             210mm F/4.5
           200mm F/5.6 
             210mm F/5.6
           200mm F/8 
             210mm F/8
           200mm F/11 
             210mm F/11


This is a direct comparison between the Minolta AF 100-200mm F/4.5, and the Minolta AF 70-210mm F/4 using center crops and the maximum zoom length for each lens.  Both sets of center crops above show similar sharpness levels.  The less-expensive and smaller 100-200mm is just as sharp wide open, and a little sharper at F/5.6-F/8.  The 70-210mm looks best at F/11.  At 100mm, things were pretty much even between the two lenses, so I didn’t post those crops in the interest of saving time and space.


Now the full frame portion of the review.


Full frame results using the Sony A900 below.


Check out the differences when using a film or full frame camera below.  I’m only pointing out the noticeable issues as compared to the APS-C bodies, so if I don’t show it here, the results are not significantly different enough to warrant posting an additional set of images in this section.


Light fall-off


         100mm F/4.5
          100mm F/5.6
march2009/100200ffvig45wd.jpg march2009/100200ffvig56wd.jpg
         200mm F/4.5
          200mm F/5.6


Light fall-off is slightly stronger with full frame coverage.  I see moderate levels wide open, diminishing as you stop down.  For some reason, the 200mm F/5.6 shot looks like it has more light fall-off than the F/4.5 shot, but it doesn’t, it just looks that way.  The exposures values are the same.


Full image from A900 below.




This boring full scene shows how the light fall-off from 100mm, F/4.5 isn’t really an issue.


100mm corner samples next.


march2009/100200ffcn45wd.jpg march2009/100200ffcn56wd.jpg
          F/5.6 at center


The 100mm full frame corners look the same as the APS-C crops, meaning there’s no difference in sharpness as you stop down.  Again, the center crop at the lower right shows the difference.


200mm corners below.


march2009/100200ffcn45tel.jpg march2009/100200ffcn56tel.jpg
          F/5.6 at center


The 200mm corners sharpen up slightly one stop down, and actually look good at F/5.6 when you compare it to the center crop at the lower right.  You see some lateral color fringing at the top along the white roof, and left-side palm tree in the crops, and none in the center crop.  Exposure differences are from light fall-off.


Distortion next.


Pincushion distortion @100mm on A900
Pincushion distortion @ 200mm on A900


There is moderate pincushion distortion at the 100mm end, and strong pincushion distortion as you zoom in.  The results are stronger than the APS-C crops, and slightly stronger overall than the Minolta AF 70-210mm F/4, which has barrel distortion at 70mm.



The Minolta AF 100-200mm F/4.5 is a rather small zoom lens, similar in size and weight to the Sony “DT” 55-200mm F/4.5-5.6.  It has a constant aperture of F/4.5 throughout the zoom range, which is only 1/3 stop slower than the Minolta AF 70-210mm F/4, and 2/3 stop faster than many telephoto zooms, like the one mentioned above.
There isn’t much to dislike about this lens, other than the strong distortion near the long end of the zoom, noticeable on a full frame camera, but not so much on a cropped sensor camera.  The corners near the short end, or 100mm, are soft, (the Minolta AF 70-210mm F/4 has problems here too) and don’t sharpen up as you stop down, but big deal, I didn’t notice it in regular pictures, I only saw it when examining my test shots at 100% on my computer screen.  The reproduction ratio of this lens is a diminutive 0.12x which isn’t so great, and isn’t nearly as good as the 70-210mm F/4, (0.25x) but that only comes into play when trying to focus on something closer than about 6ft, or 2 meters.
Here’s the really good news; overall, this lens performs much the same as the Minolta AF 70-210mm F/4, but usually sells for half the cost, and is much smaller and easier to carry around.  Image quality is nearly identical, thought the 70-210mm is 1/3 stop faster, again, big deal, there’re a couple of things that will out-weight that 1/3 stop advantage, like less color fringing, sharper images at larger apertures; meaning the 100-200mm is sharpest at F/5.6-8, the 70-210mm needs F/8-11.
Bottom line; if you don’t care much for taking pictures of small items up close like bugs etc, I’d buy the Minolta AF 100-200mm F/4.5 and save yourself some money, weight and space in the bag.
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