Skip to content

Review: Minolta MD Zoom 35-105mm F3.5-4.5 Macro (14 elements in 12 groups)

Minolta New-MD Zoom 35-105mm F/3.5-4.5 (MDIII) (14 elements in 12 groups) lens review.

Almost 3-x zoom with convenient focal distances from enough wide to enough tele. The candidate to be the only one lens in a photographer’s bag but… Tests below show that the lens has not enough power to become a favorite. In other words – it’s a really good lens, but not ideal. Such a case often happens with middle-range zooms, even more – this Minolta is not bad by IQ among other lenses with the same diapason.

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: 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 105mm groups.

MDZ35105__exterior_362

Minolta MD Zoom 35-105mm F3.5-4.5 parameters:

# in minolta.eazypix.de index 262
Name engraved on lens MD ZOOM
f[mm] 35-105
A max [1/f] 3.5-4.5
A min[1/f] 22
Lens design [el.] 14
Lens design [gr.] 12
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm] 55
Lens Shade clip-in
closefocus[m/ft] 1.5/5
Dimension Ø x length [mm] 64×88
Weight[g] 430
Year 1983
Style MD III
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No. 2525-110
Notes 2-Touch w/ macro mode at 105mm

Floating elements YES (it’s zoom)
Aperture blades number 7
Average international price (sold items) 2019: USD 50-80
Reviewed Lens SN: 1019305

Minolta produced two different 35-105mm lenses, both in New-MD generation. This article is about the later modification: 14 elements in 12 groups and with the minimal focus distance 1.5m. Macro mode is available at 105mm only. The production was started in 1983.

The previous one is from 1981, 16el.-13gr., 1.6m close focus and Macro available over the whole diapason.



Lens exterior:

Mounted on Minolta X-700:
Original lens-shade (lens-hood):

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)

Kiyoko Shimizu 23_2print.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 = 35mm

35mm – Sharpness – a short distance

35mm – Scene preview:

MDZ35105_35mm__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

35mm – Test results:

MDZ35105_35mm__c_res_close.jpg


35mm – Sharpness – long distance

35mm – Scene preview:

MDZ35105_35mm__e_far_preview.jpg

35mm – Test results:

MDZ35105_35mm__e_res_far.jpg


35mm – Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MDZ35105_35mm__f_vignettingNEW.png


35mm – Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ35105_35mm_geometry_099.jpg


35mm – Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MDZ35105_35mm__h_coma_aberr_.jpg


35mm – Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MDZ35105_35mm__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


35mm – Long distance bokeh:

Test#1:

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

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ35105_35mm__k_bokeh_far_min_NEW.png


35mm – Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test #1

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)

MDZ35105_35mm__m_dots_far_min_NEW.png


TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 50mm

50mm – Sharpness – a short distance

50mm – Scene preview:

MDZ35105_50mm__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

50mm – Test results:

MDZ35105_50mm__c_res_close.jpg


50mm – Sharpness – long distance

50mm – Scene preview:

MDZ35105_50mm__e_far_preview.jpg

50mm – Test results:

MDZ35105_50mm__e_res_far.jpg


50mm – Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MDZ35105_50mm__f_vignettingNEW.png


50mm – Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ35105_50mm_geometry_100.jpg


50mm – Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MDZ35105_50mm__h_coma_aberr_.jpg


50mm – Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MDZ35105_50mm__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


50mm – Long distance bokeh:

Test#1:

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

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ35105_50mm__k_bokeh_far_min_NEW.png


50mm – Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test #1

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)

MDZ35105_50mm__m_dots_far_min_NEW.png


TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 70mm

70mm – Sharpness – a short distance

70mm – Scene preview:

MDZ35105_70mm__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

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

MDZ35105_70mm__c_res_close.jpg


70mm – Sharpness – long distance

70mm – Scene preview:

MDZ35105_70mm__e_far_preview.jpg

70mm – Test results:

MDZ35105_70mm__e_res_far.jpg


70mm – Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MDZ35105_70mm__f_vignettingNEW.png


70mm – Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ35105_70mm_geometry_101.jpg


70mm – Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MDZ35105_70mm__h_coma_aberr_.jpg


70mm – Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MDZ35105_70mm__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


70mm – Long distance bokeh:

Test#1:

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

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ35105_70mm__k_bokeh_far_min_NEW.png


70mm – Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test #1

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)

MDZ35105_70mm__m_dots_far_min_NEW.png


TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 105mm

105mm – Sharpness – short distance

105mm – Scene preview:

MDZ35105_105mm__b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

105mm – Test results (selected version, easy to compare – 4 positions):

MDZ35105_105mm__c_res_close.jpg


105mm – Sharpness – long distance

105mm – Scene preview:

MDZ35105_105mm__e_far_preview.jpg

105mm – Test results:

MDZ35105_105mm__e_res_far.jpg


105mm – Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

MDZ35105_105mm__f_vignettingNEW.png


105mm – Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ35105_105mm_geometry_102.jpg


105mm – Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MDZ35105_105mm__h_coma_aberr_.jpg


105mm – Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

MDZ35105_105mm__i_chrome_aberrNEW_.png


105mm – Long distance bokeh:

Test#1:

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

(frame scaled 1200×800)

MDZ35105_105mm__k_bokeh_far_min_NEW.png


105mm – Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test #1

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)

MDZ35105_105mm__m_dots_far_min_NEW.png


Other resources with reviews:

It seems that this review is the first one, if you know some other – let me know, please.


My overall conclusion about Minolta MD Zoom 35-105mm F/3.5-4.5:

AvatarReview_MDZ35105.png

This is just enough fast and compact normal zoom with comfortable focal lengths. To the list of good things, I have to add good results of coma and vignetting tests. That’s the end of the positive from my point of view.

We can easily see the lack of sharpness not only at corners but in middle positions too. Even the closing of the aperture to F8-F11 is not enough for good corners. There is nothing that is able to compensate so noticeable problems with sharpness. Add here the also noticeable geometric distortion at all distances except 35mm.

One-touch design is not a good feature too, for me personally at least. In those days it was popular, I don’t know why. The label “Macro” is about marketing, not about a macro.

Yes, this lens is very good for manual 3x-zoom. Usually, I avoid to compare the lenses in conclusions, but here I want to say that this lens has a very similar IQ with MD 35-135/3.5-4.5  but a little shorter.

On the other hand – a lot of people are happy with this lens and if you caught it then use it. As I said already – there are no many zooms with this diapason of focal distances, and this Minolta is really a nice tool if to compare with others.


 

4 Comments »

  1. Other tests of this lens were quite positive and the early AF version with identical optical formula is a well-regarded lens, too.
    I own a copy of this lens that looks like new, but it can’t focus to infinity.
    It’s obviously damaged, and I think that your copy is damaged, too. It’s a quite sure indicator, that your copy doesn’t reach good sharpness at all apertures even in the center.
    I have seen many photographs that were shot with this lens that were just as good as the 3.5/35-70 macro.

    Like

  2. I think that I can justifiably doubt in your words, sorry. Definitely, this lens can’t be as good as 35-70/3.5 macro, and secondly – tests from other reviewers confirm the results. The problem is just because I expected a performance better than 35-135/3.5-4.5 – which is actually not a champion, but both of them works just the same way

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: