A good photographer knows that nothing can beat appropriate gear. We all know the scenarios where we had the perfect shooting opportunity skills and such but lacked the gear to perform. The camera can and plays a huge role in the ability to shoot better photographs, but then again if your lens is not up to task everything will be in vain. For that reason, I always recommend even beginners to start building a good lineup of lenses that they can use in different scenarios. I know for a fact that once you start buying a couple of different lenses you will fall into the rabbit hole, meaning that you can’t and won’t stop buying new lenses.
We already know that new and modern lenses deliver some exceptional qualities. For example, all of them deliver some priceless autofocus systems, image stabilization features, and qualities that result in overall sharper photographs. However, there is something interesting about the lenses that were used in the film cameras of the past. There were some different players back then. One of the major manufacturers of cameras and lenses was Minolta. While the company still produces cameras and lenses even today, under the Konica Minolta banner, the past models were just priceless overall.
These lenses deliver some interesting and distinct qualities in their bodies, and each photographer has a distinct style that they want to achieve, and requires different things effectively from their lens. Today we will check out the guide to getting the best Minolta lenses you can buy. We will check out both the models that were designed for film cameras and modern models, things that you should know before buying a new lens and so much more. Now without further ado, let’s take a closer look.
The Top 5 Best Minolta Lenses
5. Minolta Rokkor-x 45mm f/2
We are going to start this list with an interesting model, the Minolta Rokkor-x 45mm f/2. This lens will be able to be used in all the cameras form Minolta’s and Sony’s range that use the A-mount. For the price, it is one of the most impressive lenses I have ever encountered.
This is a manual focus lens that can deliver a soft background bokeh effect to your images and also can deliver some exceptional portrait shots. While it is 50mm which is a bit wider than the classic portrait lens it will deliver great portraits even in low light scenarios.
I found out that this lens delivers an amazing depth of field and manages to reduce flare significantly. Reliable and ever-classy, the Minolta Rokkor-x 45mm f/2 makes for a superb selection if you are looking for a delicious prime lens.
4. Minolta Maxxum AF 100-200mm f/4.5
Next up we have another exceptional model from Minolta’s range the Minolta Maxxum AF 100-200mm f/4.5. This lens is called Beer Can by enthusiasts for its interesting shape, great vintage design, sturdy body and great set of optics inside.
I have found out that the Minolta Maxxum AF 100-200mm f/4.5 is a perfect versatile medium telephoto lens that will deliver an excellent performance overall. It also has autofocus capabilities and does it perfectly as well.
It is compatible with all the cameras with the A-mount and with an adapter you can fit into different models as well. The maximum aperture of this lens is f/4.5 and it maintains that effectively throughout the exceptional zoom range.
3. Minolta MC Tele Rokkor-PF 135mm f/2.8
Moving on with our list we have the Minolta MC Tele Rokkor-PF 135mm f/2.8, which is one of the best choices in Minolta’s range for those that are looking for a seemingly extinct prime telephoto lens, with a good price as well.
This camera establishes itself as one of the best cameras for street photography, and I have to admit that I am a bit biased since I have used it for a long time. It is a manual focus lens, so you won’t be able to utilize modern and fast features of your camera, but for artistry, this is as good as it goes.
This camera will deliver excellent performance in different scenarios and its f/2.8 aperture performs great and works well with the camera overall. The sharpness is unprecedented and with the right camera, you will fall in love with it.
2. Minolta AF 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5
For those that are looking for a super versatile powerhouse that will make everything easier for you, I present you the Minolta AF 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5. This lens can capture anything from superb landscapes to perfect portraits, definitely one of the fan favorites.
This lens has also a vintage retro design, with a sturdy body that has stood the test of time, without forgetting to mention the exceptional optics. This camera delivers one of the most pleasing bokeh effects at f/3.5 and the sharpness was fantastic.
It also has an autofocus mode surprisingly that allows you to be fast and utilize the sophisticated autofocus system of your camera. It can shoot macros as well, but not with autofocus, but this plays to its strength actually.
1. Konica Minolta AF Zoom 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6
On top of the list, we have the Konica Minolta AF Zoom 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6, which deserves a standing ovation. This is one of the finest lenses that I have ever seen as its excellent price, build, quality, optics and performance have left a lot of photographers in awe.
The Konica Minolta AF Zoom 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 delivers a superb zoom range that makes this lens capable of shooting anything you can imagine, excluding wide-angle landscape shots. Portrait, sports and nature photography are its strengths though.
This lens has a pretty consistent macro setting, that works rather well with its four-time zoom ration and excellent focusing performance that spans from 5 feet to infinity.
The Case for Older Minolta Lenses
I decided to write this article after I tried some interesting lenses from Minoltas lineup, specifically those that were present in the film days. You might think that lenses older than 20 years, might not be exactly beneficial for the modern photographer, due to the increased technological advancement in those years. However, there are some things that have not changed at all and some that have changed drastically.
The thing that changed the most with advancements in technology these days is the cameras themselves. Nowadays we all use digital cameras which have exceeded the limit that old analog and film models posed, well at least in most of the areas. Things are now more convenient we can alter our photographs more and so on. This is an area when you can see the change significantly and it is amazing in every single way.
However, optics of the camera have changed at a snail’s pace, to be honest. Yes, the design of the lenses, materials, coatings and so on have changed a little over the years, but fundamentally or just basically looking at them, there is no large difference between a contemporary lens and one that was produced in the 60s. So why opt for newer and more expensive lenses anyway. Well, there are some qualities and features that are an absolute necessity for different types of photography that modern lenses offer. But in terms of still photography, combined with the right camera, an old lens will deliver just as good and sometimes even better results. And those old Minolta lenses, are one of the most notable.
Things to Consider Before Buying Minolta Lenses
I have written this guide specifically for buyers of both new and older Minolta lens models out there. You should be very careful with a new lens as some qualities will make it better or worse for your needs. There are a lot of factors and things you need to consider before buying a Minolta lens and I will try to make things easier for you overall. So let’s get on with it.
Prime vs Zoom Lens
There are generally two types of lenses out there, prime and zoom lenses. While this is not a definitive thing and there are different types of lenses such as wide-angle, standard, macro, telephoto and so much more, but today we are going to focus on zoom and prime lenses. A prime lens is one that has a fixed focal length, which is an amazing pick if you want the most quality. These lenses are extremely sharp and deliver great performance in low light scenarios. This is due to the lack of moving components inside of the lens which makes it perfect for those needs, however, this takes away from the versatility of using it for different purposes in different focal lengths. That is where zoom lenses kick in, as they have focal length range you can operate on and have optical zoom capabilities so you can shoot objects that are farther with better quality. While the sharpness and quality are not as good as on the prime models, it is still pretty good and in terms of versatility, they are unbeaten overall.
The focal length is another important thing you need to consider on the lens you plan to buy. Simply explained, the focal length of a lens is the distance between the center fo the lens and the sensor when the subject is in focus. It is simply measured in millimeters and the lower the value the wider your shots will be. On the other hand, the higher you go the bigger the zoom to the scene.
There are different Minolta lenses out there but most of them have a focal length that spans from 30 to 50mm, but of course, there are different lenses as well that have different values. You should know that lense with lower focal lengths will focus on larger parts of the screen and the higher the number the smaller the view aspect and the focus will be. Here the aperture will also play a part but not by much, either way, is careful about that as well.
The coating or the quality of the coating for your Minolta lens is also an important factor that you need to consider before buying. There are different materials used for the coating of the lens in the Minoltas range, and most of them of better quality. One of the most widely used coatings used out there is magnesium fluoride. There are also lenses that have advanced multi-layer materials that help reduce common issues such as ghosting and flare. These are one of the most occurrent issues in most digital cameras out there. One of the understated things about coating is that they deliver better color balance throughout the whole zoom range of your lens.
This is a pretty interesting issue, as it is a thing that will make or break your choice because if the lens isn’t compatible with your camera you won’t be able to use it at all. Fortunately, there are different adapters out there that can be used for a variety of lenses and cameras. There is something to note though. I have to say that the old film lens will not work properly on your DSLR camera, especially if you opt for an APS-C format sensor. This is because all the adapters use an optical component to adapt the lens to the camera’s sensor. However, these will degrade the quality of your image and leave you with unsatisfactory results. You can counter this with a mirrorless model as they work better with these older lenses, and the best for these is the Sony’s a7 series, which use full-frame sensors and deliver extremely beautiful results overall. This is because Sony bought Minolta and used its A-mount on its new Alpha line.
Whether you look are looking for a lens from the newer Minolta models, or checking out the retro vintage models of the 80s you are in for a treat with Minolta. I hope that I have made things clear for you so you can choose the best lens for your needs from the Minoltas range. One thing to note when buying older lenses is to buy from a trusted vendor or seller and check the build quality for any defects that might make the lens not worth it. Don’t forget to check out the top picks section, to get the fail-safe options that have proven their worth and delivered an excellent performance. Have fun with your brand new lens.