This is it. Thanks to the new Sony adapter LAEA-5 we can finally use the legacy Minolta AF lenses from the A-mount system on the newest Sony E-mount camera bodies (A7RmarkIV for FF and A6600 for APSC) almost as if they were native lenses.
For this very reason I have decided to provide you a comparison of some of those lenses on the 42 Mpx sensor from Sony (found in A7Rm2 and A7Rm3). The test scenario is a flower bouquet and off camera flashes are triggered in TTL mode.
The roundup is including 2 primes [135f2.8 and 100f2.8 macro] and 3 zooms[70-210f4 , 35-105f3.5-4.5, 28-135f4-4.5]
So why this roundup ? Why now ? Well with the new Sony LAEA-5 adapter it's a game changer. Those lenses work now perfectly with AF, eye-AF and animal eye-AF
Considering this and the price of E-mount lenses second hand, there could be some substantial savings here. But are there any trade-offs ? Let's discover it through the test scene.
The 35-105 f3.5-4.5 Zoom
The focal length could be considered a bit awkward for nowadays standards. The truth is that as a transtandard zoom, this lens is very versatile.
Throughout the whole range of the zoom, this lens is pretty sharp and likewise the best Minolta lenses of this era, the OOF area is creamylicious.
Due to its versatility and good rendering results, the aperture is not the fastest ending at f4.5.
There is nothing bad to say about this lens except maybe its working minimanl focus distance of 1.5 meters. A drawback shared with the other transtandard zoom the 28-135.
Here is the sample shot at 105mm wide opened
And below the same scene at f5.6
The result talks for itself: This lens is already sharp on the long end at its widest aprture.
The 28-135 f4-4.5 Zoom
This focal length is more in par with the actual transtandard zooms right. And the aperture is interesting with an almost constant f4.
This lens is considered by its owners as one of the sharpest available amongst the beercan lens line-up. And even me I thought so. And yes, I use passed tense here.
Strangely this lens has its focus ring at the level of the mount and it's pretty thin so, it's a bit weird to manipulate.
Keep also in mind that I am talking here about the beercan Minolta lenses, so there barrel is always made out aluminium alloy. Those things are built like tanks and made to last forever. The tradeoff can be huge for mirrorless users though: This lens is heavy at 750 grams.
So I said that I thought that this lens was sharp. And the main reason is that wide opened at 135mm I never was able to get rid of kind of a veil. Probably my copy of this lens oo ?
Once the aperture set at f5.6 it's sharp and the veil is gone.
I admit it, I really love the rendering of the colors, the sharpness and OOF rendering coming out from it. It's very versatile and useful when traveling despite its weight.
Real world images with the Minolta AF 28-135 F4-4.5
The 70-210 f4 Zoom
Absolutely no surprise here, this is one of the favourite focal length zoom for portrait shooters.
This lens like its sibblings is an internal zoom. But the focus ring is extending outside a bit when rotating.
Between the 3 zooms, it remains my favourite: sharp, color and OOF rendering and is fast to AF.
I used to use it to shoot track-days cars and it was an awesome experience.
We obviously appreciate the fact that it's a constant f4 lens. It's true that it's not an f2.8 but what we lose in light, we win it in weight. This lens is just under 700 grams. Not bad at all.
Here is the sample at 105mm f4
Here is the sample at 105mm f4.5
below is 135mm f4
below is 135mm f4.5
I just love this lens. It was one of my first zooms in my collection and still it's shining. Knowing that it can be found for around 70e when you'll need 10 times more for the equivalent on E-mount really puts things into perspectives.
Real world images with the Minolta AF 70-210 F4
The 100mm f2.8 macro prime
Useless to keep any suspens here: it's the sharpest lens among the whole batch. The 100 macro and 50 macro are the sharpest lenses it's possible to ghet on A-mount.
But it's a macro lens, with all the consequences.
Hard to focus. The focus ring itself is extremely damp as one could expect from any macro lens.
The AF is extremely slow as one would expect from any macro lens too.
I personally discard the use of macro lenses for portraiture. That's my personal taste because I hate how those lenses are able to make the defects of the skin of the subjects poping out...
Again that's a personal thing and I know that some of you don't care shooting portraiture ith macro lenses. This is why I put it ine the batch for this comparison review.
The sample at f2.8
Same at f4
Not much to say here. It's razor sharp.
And the best for the end: The 135mm f2.8 prime
So this is something here. Seriously, what are the options on E-mount for 135mm prime with AF ?
What is the most astonishing is the build construction. This lens is so compact that it has been nicknamed the "pocket rocket". Which makes sense.
We have the tele of 135 with a "not too slow" aperture of f2.8
But something has surprised me even more during the test session: This thing is fast to Af and is blazzing sharp wide open. I wouldn't count on that last one.
The sample at f2.8
Same at f4
This is the obvious winner between the primes, but I think that it's also the winner if you're on a budget for a 135mm on your E-mount system.
We are talking here about compact and light (365 grams) with a fast snappy AF, sharp and creamylicious OOF area.
I just regret that this lens stays in the north of second hand price tag at around 300 euros.
Real world images with the Minolta AF 135 F2.8
So I have given you here the results out of the Sony 42 mpx sensor and you know if you'd like to buy one of these second hand. Okay but is there anything more to know about thiose lenses to find the bargain ?
Well the most important would be to keep in mind that these lenses were designed for film days. Nowadays on digital they deliver greatly but if used under bad conditions, they will deliver awfully.
What do I mean by "bad conditions" ? Direct answer: Strong contrast difference scenes. For instance a statue and the sky as its background and you'll see all the green and purple fringes all around the statue. So stay away from strong contrast diff and you'll be more than happy.
When it comes to buy, try to play with the focus ring. If you here like a scratchy noise, leave and go for another one. Except of this those lenses can present some loss of coloration of the rubbers but that's it.
Considering the prices of E-mount second-hand equivalents, I think it's worth the shot at least to know if the focal length would please you to begin with.