8 February 2009

Minolta Maxxum AF Zoom 28-85mm f3.5-f4.5 Macro for Sony Alpha DSLR

Most would believe that SAL1870 kitlens that comes bundled with Sony Alpha A200/ A300/A350 is a great lens therefore not many photographers would look for an additional lens that would covers such a range. This is actually the reason why Minolta Maxxum 28-85mm f3.5-f.45 is particularly unknown to most of Sony Alpha DSLR users.

No doubt Sony SAL 1870 is very versatile and are able to produce great quality photos but I still feel it is inadequate somehow or another. Thats why i got myself a Minolta 28-85mm f3.5 just to justify my curiosity.

Like all my previous lenses, extensive research were done before deciding on such a lens. A nice gentlemen from alphanatics forum willing to part with his copy of Minolta Maxxum 28-85mm at such a bargain that i immediately confirmed the lens without any bargaining/price negotiation. The seller even throw in free freight all the way from Miri Sarawak.

The package from Miri, Sarawak

Newly arrived Minolta 28-85mm f3.5 with front and rear Minolta cap, no hood tho. I heard the original hood is crappy so it doesnt matter anyway. Gonna look for a 3rd party rubber hood to be use with this lens later on.

Classic Minolta 55mm front cap

Like my previous Minolta 35-70mm f4 lens this one also comes with a suprise of its own. The nice seller even throw in a Osawa 55mm Close up filter for free (i wasnt expecting this becuase the seller did not mentioned anything about the closeup filter at all ... what a bargain!!!)

Will write more about the Osawa closeup filter later when I m doing the macro shots with this lens.

Minolta Maxxum AF Zoom 28-85mm f3.5-f4.5 Macro fully drawn in. This lens is abit strange in length wise, its is shortest when zoomed in at 85mm and longest when zoomed out at 28mm.

Minolta Maxxum AF Zoom 28-85mm f3.5-f4.5 Macro fully extended at 28mm.

Front element of Minolta Maxxum AF Zoom 28-85mm f3.5-f4.5 Macro
Lens descriptions of Minolta Maxxum AF Zoom 28-85mm f3.5-f4.5 Macro

Blades of Minolta Maxxum AF Zoom 28-85mm f3.5-f4.5 Macro, clean and non oily.

Metal A mount of Minolta Maxxum AF Zoom 28-85mm f3.5-f4.5 Macro as opposed to plastic A mount with Sony SAL1870 kitlens.

Brief technical data of this lens :

* Year of Production: 1985
* Focal lenght: 28-85 mm
* Aperture: 3.5-4.5 - 22-27
* Aperture type: 7 blades
* Angle of view: 75°-29°
* Minimum focus distance: 0.8 m (0.25 m - macro)
* Elements / groups: 13 / 10
* Filter diameter: 55mm
* Dimensions (D x L): 68.5 x 85.5 mm
* Magnification: 1/8.3x (1/4)
* Weight: 520g
* Filter rotates while focusing
* Lens hood round, "clip-on" mounted
* Features: macro switch

Macro Feature

To those who are not familiar with closeup filters and what is it for, here is a brief and simple description of what is a closeup filter :

What is a Close-up Filter?

A close-up filter is a lens that attaches onto the end of a camera lens via a screw thread. The purpose of the filter is to decrease the minimum distance that a lens requires to focus. For example most telephoto lenses need the subject to be at least a metre and a half away before they can focus. By attaching a close-up filter to the lens you can reduce this to maybe 0.75 metres.

Close-up filters are measured in Dioptre, with +2 being weak and +10 being strong. A dioptre is a measure of lens power. Filters can be "stacked" together (one filter screwed onto the lens and another screwed into the first filter). When stacking filters always make sure that the strongest filter is closest to the lens.


Osawa 55mm Closeup Filter no.3

Macro feature in this lns is identical to that of a Minolta Maxxum AF Zoom 35-70mm f4 Macro aka Mini Beercan, you gotta flip a switch to enable it and when you are in Macro mode you cant use the AF (auto focus) feature. Only MF (manual Focus) is available when activated the Macro mode of this lens. Another strange feature but nevertheless there are ways to hack this and enable the lens to use AF feature in macro mode.

These are some of the macro shots i did and in comparison I did the same shot with this lens with the Osawa no.3 Closeup filter attached to the lens as well. this way wee can see what kinda differences that a closeup filter can do to your photos.

This photo of a 10 sen coin were taken with Minolta 28-85mm built in macro feature without closeup filter (no crop)

This photo of a 10 sen coin were taken with Minolta 28-85mm built in macro feature with Osawa 55mm Closeup filter no.3 (no crop)

This photo of a toy car were taken with Minolta 28-85mm built in macro feature without closeup filter attached (no crop)

This photo of a toy car were taken with Minolta 28-85mm built in macro feature with Osawa 55mm Closeup filter no.3 (no crop)

The reported minimum focal length of 24.6cm and a max magnification ratio of 1:4 (with macro feature activated) is not accurate as I were able to get as close as 3cm with magnification almos as good as 1:2 or even better (even closer when attached with the closeup filter) from the object in macro mode. I m not sure whether my lens are modified by the previous owner or there is really an error in the technical data provided. This can be further proven if i can get hold of another copy of Minolta 28-85mm lens as comparison.

From the look of the above photos in "macro mode" this is as good as you get from a all rounder lens. The good news is for the money you paid for ... you dint get screwed this time lol! The bad news is ... macro is only on MF unless you successfully hack it.

VERDICT : Above average Macro performance (at least on my copy)

Others Samples Shots in Various Conditions with this lens

Optimus Prime (indoor) soft bokeh

MAS Airbus 380 model (indoor)

Even Optimus Prime Choose to fly with MAS! :P

Potrait of my oldman in an open air restaurant with penty of natural lights

Potraits of Chester bright (outdoor)

Herser my female white hamster (indoor)

FOOD!!! (indoor)

Cam whore Lion Dancer (outdoor)

Lion Dance in Progress Outdoor

I just happen to like her hair ... ALOT! (outdoor too!)

In a nutshell :

  1. Built solid (body made of metal) doubled as a weapon in time of crisis lol!
  2. Underated lens therefore it is Bloody CHEAP! I paid less than RM400 (Approx USD110) for mine.
  3. Great sharp image at all focal length.
  4. Great Minolta Colors
  5. Nice soft bokeh
  6. Fast and accurate AF (Auto Focus)
  7. Great Macro
If you do not mind having a heavier walkabout lens (this lens weight like a brick) with a not so comfy minimum focal length of 80cm (when not in macro mode) then this is a must have lens for you! Put aside the little few Cons, this is truly a great lens with big potential. Looks like this and the Minolta 35-70mm f4 will be one of the few lenses i will be carrying around with me most of the time.


  1. Anonymous4:35 pm

    How come use USPS to ship from miri one? ._.

  2. The "minimum focus distance" is measured from the sensor/film to the focus point... that's why it sounds so long. The distance between the front of the lens and the focus point is called the "working distance".


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