Minolta MD Zoom 28-85mm F3.5~4.5

Legacy Lens Review: Minolta MD Zoom 28-85mm F3.5~4.5

Legacy Lens Review:

Minolta MD Zoom 28-85mm F3.5~4.5

'A quick look at a lens that turned out to be an outstanding surprise, couldn't ask for more'

One of the more interesting lenses I have in my collection is a fantastic sleeper, the two-touch varifocal Minolta MD Zoom 28-85mm F3.5~4.5. The lens was introduced to the Minolta line in 1983 as part of the Minolta MD series lineup and comes with macro shooting mode and a very convenient range of focal lengths.

Olympus Pen E-P5, Minolta MD Zoom 28-85mm F3.5-4.5

'Sleeper' is the word I use here to reflect the fact that the lens has gone almost unnoticed by both enthusiasts and reviewers. Aside from the very few views and reviews of the lens on the Net, with one on The Rokkor Files, and another on Dyxum, there isn't much more you can lay your hands on. I could also be that, as mentioned by a member of the forum on MFLenses, the MD Zoom 28-85mm F3.5-4.5 is not as easy to get as other Minolta lenses.

    Minolta 28 - 85 f3,5 4,5

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The all-glass and metal lens is a 13-elements in 10-group construction measures 66.5mm in length, weighs 470 grams, takes 55mm filters, comes with a minimum focusing distance of 0.8 meters, and is fitted with a macro setting capability that enables close focus photography at up to 1:4 magnification. 

Olympus Pen E-P5, Minolta MD Zoom 28-85mm F3.5-4.5

Placed side by side, or mounted, on a current ILC that is very compact with almost a miniaturized form factors, the lens is a bit of a monster both in bulk and weight, which is heavier than, for example, the 420 grams (including the battery) net weight of the E-P5 that I use, with an added length of 23mm for the lens adapter. 

On the 2x crop-sensor Pen E-P5, the focal length range of the lens is equivalent to that of a full-frame camera fitted with a medium telephoto lens with a zoom range of 56-170 mm.

A Varifocal Zoom

A varifocal zoom, and as opposed to the parfocal version, is one where the focus changes each and every time the focal length and magnification changes. This means that as you move up and down the zoom range, you inadvertently have to refocus as well, something you just have to get used to.

The First Take

My first take with the lens was down at the park which is only a few minutes walk from my place, and the first test was to see how convenient was the zoom range. It is all good actually, from where I was, across the lake, to be able to take in the landscape as a whole as well as picking up the figures on the active morning fishing stints.

@ 28 mm or 56 mm equivalent on the full-frame
@ 28 mm or 56 mm equivalent on the full-frame
@ 35 mm or 70 mm equivalent on the full-frame
@ 35 mm or 70 mm equivalent on the full-frame
@ 50 mm or 100 mm equivalent on the full-frame
@ 50 mm or 100 mm equivalent on the full-frame
@ 70 mm or 140 mm equivalent on the full-frame
@ 70 mm or 140 mm equivalent on the full-frame
@ 85 mm or 170 mm equivalent on the full-frame
@ 85 mm or 170 mm equivalent on the full-frame

I stayed a while longer to take on a few more shots, virtualizing the fresh and vibrant colors of the morning and fine details within the park that the lens was able to capture.

Minolta MD Zoom 28-85mm F3.5~4.5, Lens Review Image 01
Minolta MD Zoom 28-85mm F3.5~4.5, Lens Review Image 02

While not forgetting the lush green and other vibrant colors of the tree, leaves, or other fronds.

Minolta MD Zoom 28-85mm F3.5~4.5, Lens Review Image 03
Minolta MD Zoom 28-85mm F3.5~4.5, Lens Review Image 04

To end it all, I might have also captured my minimalist master-class image of the day, of the lone Heron patiently waiting for the fishes to surface.

Minolta MD Zoom 28-85mm F3.5~4.5, Lens Review Image 05

The Minolta MD Zoom 28-85mm F3.5-4.5 is undoubtfully a fantastic lens, and for the first take, it performed way beyond my expectations and delivered images of outstanding sharpness and clarity.

Looks like this lens is a real keeper for me.


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