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Review: Minolta MD Zoom 28-70mm 1:3.5-4.8 Macro – lightweight version

Minolta New-MD Zoom 28-70mm F/3.5-4.8 (NMD, MD-IIIa) “the lightweight” lens review.

This lens is from the latest generation of manual lenses with the Minolta logo. However, it is not ‘truly’ Minolta because it was developed and produced by some third party company. There were two (at least?) different MD 28-70/3.5-4.8 lenses, the first one “the heavy” has been reviewed here,  and now the article about the “lightweight” version is finished too.

Reviews of zoom lenses are long, because each of them contains, as it were, several reviews of prime lenses in one. Tests for this review are divided for: 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm groups.

MDZ2870b_exterior_338_logo

Minolta MD Zoom 28-70mm F3.5-4.8 parameters:

# in minolta.eazypix.de index 255
Name engraved on lens MD ZOOM
f[mm] 28-70
A max [1/f] 3.5-4.8
A min[1/f] 22
Lens design [el.] 8
Lens design [gr.] 8
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm] 55
Lens Shade screw-in
closefocus[m/ft] 0.8/2.75
Dimension Ø x length [mm] 64×69
Weight[g] 225
Year 1985 – incorrectly (!)

1990 – correct year

Style MD IIIa
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No. ———-
Notes 2-Touch w/ macro mode

Floating elements YES
Aperture blades number 8
Average international price (sold items) 2019: USD 15-20
Reviewed lens SN: 61307045

To my regret, I didn’t find any reliable information about the origin of this lens. Cosina and Hoya/Tokina have been mentioned in many resources but without serious evidence. Additionally, we have the fact that two different lenses have been existed under the Minolta logo. Both are 28-70mm 1/3.5-4.8 with the same optical formula (8×8) but with absolutely different mechanical constructions. Both have been on sale around the same time. And mentions about companies usually don’t make a difference between these two versions. Does it mean that one of them is by Cosina and another is Hoya? Or both for both companies but in different periods? Or maybe no one… Even more – by little survey results inside collectors society the differences in weight are so big that we can have three or more variations of every lens. And finally, I doubt the year of production (1985?), because met a diversity in some materials. So, if you have details – let me know please, I’ll update this article.

UPD:

Immediately after the article was published, there was additional information:

Andrea Aprà quote (from here):

About the date, I would say that 1985 is definitely wrong. Too soon. In his book Josef Scheibel talks about 1990. My data shows March 1990 which I believe is correct. However, it isn’t documented in literature the heavier and lighter models and therefore it can only be said that 1990 is the date of introduction of the first of the two, the date of the second is unknown. Even the serials don’t help to decide which one is the first because they are overlapped. The Minolta code also remains fixed at 2526-100. It could also be absurd to be contemporaries and come from two different suppliers at the same time. We are in phase out of the manual focus series and Minolta has no time and production lines to commit to this old product chain, it is fully committed to the effort to promote and sell AF models.

Michel Brien quote (from here):

Canadian price lists i have do not show it in 1989/07. But it shows in the 1995/04 list. Sorry i have none in between.

Note: In minolta.eazypix.de lenses index only this “lightweight” version is presented. There are no mentions about “heavy”. Maybe it because Dennis Lohmann (c) supposed that it’s just the one lens, but for me, the difference between the exterior and behavior is enough to be sure that these are two different lenses.


MDZ2870b__on_scale_889.jpg


Lens exterior:

Note: do you see the group of three screws on the mount side? This is the easiest way to distinguish “lightweight” from “heavy” version: ‘three screws = lightweight‘.

On Minolta X-700 camera:


Test methods descriptions:

Sharpness – close distance:

Test description: target is a 10×15 cm picture (printed, glossy photo paper), fixed on the wall by scotch. Distance – 1.7m. Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. All groups of shots were repeated 3 times for every target position on all apertures from fully opened up to F16, ISO-200, WB – same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot. After all needed shots have been taken for one target position – I moved the target to the next place. Main idea – to exclude the field curvature affect on so close distance. Of course, I can’t be absolutely accurate, but test results looks correct.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), then cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files

Original target image (printed in horizontal orientation on 10cm X 15cm glossy photo paper)

Yumeko Jabami 23.jpg

Sharpness – long distance:

Test description: Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. Targets (buildings) were fixed by gravity power on the distances in more than 200 meters. All shots have been taken with apertures from fully opened up to F16. ISO-100. Shutter Speed – depends on light (camera A-mode), WB – fixed and the same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot to exclude focus-shift affect.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), then were cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.


TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 28mm

28mm – Sharpness – short distance

28mm – Scene preview:

MDZ2870b_28mm__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

28mm – Test results:

MDZ2870b_28mm__c_res_close.jpg


28mm – Sharpness – long distance

28mm – Scene preview:

MDZ2870b_28mm__e_far_preview.jpg

28mm – Test results:

MDZ2870b_28mm__e_res_far.jpg


28mm – Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MDZ2870b_28mm__f_vignettingNEW.png


28mm – Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ2870b_28mm_geom_56.jpg


28mm – Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MDZ2870b_28mm__h_coma_aberr_.png


28mm – Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MDZ2870b_28mm__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


28mm – Long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 0.8m, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ2870b_28mm__k_bokeh_far_min_NEW.png


28mm – Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 0.8m, lights were fixed in more than 200m.

Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is a demonstration of extreme conditions. In most cases of real-life photography, the blur level will be less.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ2870b_28mm__m_dots_far_min_NEW.png

TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 35mm

35mm – Sharpness – short distance

35mm – Scene preview:

MDZ2870b_35mm__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

35mm – Test results:

MDZ2870b_35mm__c_res_close.jpg


35mm – Sharpness – long distance

35mm – Scene preview:

MDZ2870b_35mm__e_far_preview.jpg

35mm – Test results:

MDZ2870b_35mm__e_res_far.jpg


35mm – Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MDZ2870b_35mm__f_vignettingNEW.png


35mm – Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ2870b_35mm_geom_57.jpg


35mm – Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MDZ2870b_35mm__h_coma_aberr_.png


35mm – Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MDZ2870b_35mm__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


35mm – Long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 0.8m, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ2870b_35mm__k_bokeh_far_min_NEW.png


35mm – Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 0.8m, lights were fixed in more than 200m.

Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is a demonstration of extreme conditions. In most cases of real-life photography, the blur level will be less.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ2870b_35mm__m_dots_far_min_NEW.png


TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 50mm

50mm – Sharpness – short distance

50mm – Scene preview:

MDZ2870b_50mm__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

50mm – Test results (selected version, easy to compare – 4 positions):

MDZ2870b_50mm__c_res_close.jpg


50mm – Sharpness – long distance

50mm – Scene preview:

MDZ2870b_50mm__e_far_preview.jpg

50mm – Test results:

MDZ2870b_50mm__e_res_far.jpg


50mm – Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MDZ2870b_50mm__f_vignettingNEW.png


50mm – Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ2870b_50mm_geom_58.jpg


50mm – Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MDZ2870b_50mm__h_coma_aberr_.png


50mm – Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MDZ2870b_50mm__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


50mm – Long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 0.8m, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ2870b_50mm__k_bokeh_far_min_NEW.png


50mm – Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 0.8m, lights were fixed in more than 200m.

Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is a demonstration of extreme conditions. In most cases of real-life photography, the blur level will be less.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ2870b_50mm__m_dots_far_min_NEW.png


TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 70mm

70mm – Sharpness – short distance

70mm – Scene preview:

MDZ2870b_70mm__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

70mm – Test results (selected version, easy to compare – 4 positions):

MDZ2870b_70mm__c_res_close.jpg


70mm – Sharpness – long distance

70mm – Scene preview:

MDZ2870b_70mm__e_far_preview.jpg

70mm – Test results:

MDZ2870b_70mm__e_res_far.jpg


70mm – Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MDZ2870b_70mm__f_vignettingNEW.png


70mm – Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ2870b_70mm_geom_59.jpg


70mm – Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MDZ2870b_70mm__h_coma_aberr_.png


70mm – Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MDZ2870b_70mm__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


70mm – Long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 1.2m, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ2870b_70mm__k_bokeh_far_min_NEW.png


70mm – Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 1.2m, lights were fixed in more than 200m.

Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is a demonstration of extreme conditions. In most cases of real-life photography the blur level will be less.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ2870b_70mm__m_dots_far_min_NEW.png


My overall conclusion about Minolta MD Zoom 28-70mm F3.5-4.8:

AvatarReview_MDZ2870L.png

When this lens arrived, I thought, “this plastic rattle can not be good. It even doesn’t look like a Minolta”. I was wrong partly – of course, this lens is not a champion by the tests, but it is not so bad in the middle of diapason at least.

Positive:

  • Small and lightweight
  • Cheap
  • Convenient zoom range
  • Sufficient sharpness in the range 35-50mm
  • As for zoom-lens – well-fixed geometric distortion at every focal distance

Negative is just one point at all, but it’s enough serious:

  • Aberrations and a lack of sharpness on 28mm and 70mm on F3.5-5.6

And let me keep the silence about the bokeh: I’m not sure that someone will be looking for a bokeh-king among lenses with such characteristics.

In general: this is a conventional inexpensive lens that works a little better than expected. But expectations shouldn’t be high. It can’t be recommended because of the lack of sharpness at the longest and shortest focus distances. The good lens for a period until the owner of a new camera looking for the main one.


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