Minolta MD 28-70mm 1:3.5-4.8 Zoom Macro Lightweight – review

Published by Tony on

Minolta MD 28-70mm 1:3.5-4.8 Lightweight-version Zoom Macro lens review

  • Official classification: New-MD
  • Collector’s classification: MD IIIa

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.

Tests for this review are divided for 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm groups

Minolta MD 28-70mm 1:3.5-4.8 Lightweight + Minolta X-700

Minolta MD 28-70mm 1:3.5-4.8 Lightweight specifications:

# in minolta.eazypix.de index 255
Name engraved on the 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

More data


Floating elements YES
Aperture blades number 8
Confidence in the test results of reviewed copies Average
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 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 (c) quote:

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 (c) quote:

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.



Minolta MD 28-70mm 1:3.5-4.8 Lightweight 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‘.

Minolta MD 28-70mm 1:3.5-4.8 Lightweight mounted on Minolta X-700 camera


Minolta MD 28-70mm 1:3.5-4.8 Lightweight sharpness

Сlose-distance resolution test, minimal distance

Testing methods description

  • Target: 10-15 cm picture, printed on glossy photo paper
  • Distance: 1.7m
  • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF.
  • The test was repeated for every F-stop on every focus position with manual focus adjustment for each shot. That is to avoid the effect of field curvature.
  • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

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

Long-distance resolution test

Testing methods description

  • Target: cityscape
  • Distance: > 200 meters to center focus point
  • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF. The focus point is on the center only.
  • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

Minolta MD 28-70mm 1:3.5-4.8 Lightweight TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 28mm

28mm – Sharpness – a short distance

28mm – Scene preview

28mm – Test results


28mm – Sharpness – long distance

28mm – Scene preview

28mm – Test results


28mm – Vignetting


28mm – Geometric distortion


28mm – Coma aberrations


28mm – Chromatic aberrations


28mm – Long distance bokeh

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


28mm – Light bubbles long-distance bokeh

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

Minolta MD 28-70mm 1:3.5-4.8 Lightweight TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 35mm

35mm – Sharpness – short distance

35mm – Scene preview

35mm – Test results


35mm – Sharpness – long distance

35mm – Scene preview

35mm – Test results


35mm – Vignetting


35mm – Geometric distortion


35mm – Coma aberrations


35mm – Chromatic aberrations


35mm – Long-distance bokeh

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


35mm – Light bubbles long-distance bokeh

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


Minolta MD 28-70mm 1:3.5-4.8 Lightweight TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 50mm

50mm – Sharpness – short distance

50mm – Scene preview:

50mm – Test results


50mm – Sharpness – long distance

50mm – Scene preview

50mm – Test results


50mm – Vignetting


50mm – Geometric distortion


50mm – Coma aberrations


50mm – Chromatic aberrations


50mm – Long-distance bokeh

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


50mm – Light bubbles long-distance bokeh

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

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


Minolta MD 28-70mm 1:3.5-4.8 Lightweight TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 70mm

70mm – Sharpness – a short distance

70mm – Scene preview

70mm – Test results


70mm – Sharpness – long distance

70mm – Scene preview

70mm – Test results


70mm – Vignetting


70mm – Geometric distortion


70mm – Coma aberrations


70mm – Chromatic aberrations


70mm – Long-distance bokeh

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

MDZ2870b_70mm__k_bokeh_far_min_NEW.png


70mm – Light bubbles long-distance bokeh

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

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

MDZ2870b_70mm__m_dots_far_min_NEW.png


Minolta MD 28-70mm 1:3.5-4.8 Lightweight final conclusion

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

Here 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.



3 Comments

Howard M Nulse · 2020-10-16 at 04:57

I just bought this lens, like new, along with an XD 11 camera (and a 50mm f/1.2…ooh la la) and I can’t figure out how you figured out where any specific intermediate focal lengths are. No matter, it’s pretty good for a “late model” manual focus 35mm film zoom lens, with a remarkably stiff zoom ring. Back in the mid-80’s, I had gotten an Albinar zoom for my XG-M, sadly since sold, the focal lengths of which I can’t remember. I could swear that it was a 24-70mm, but it’s been a while since I’ve had them. The camera is also mint condition, and I can’t wait to run a roll of film through it. It’ll be by first in 30 years!

    Tony · 2020-10-16 at 16:58

    Congratulations!
    The intermediate focal lengths are not a problem for testers – I simply know the angle of view for my main scenes via prime lenses and set zooms accordingly.
    What about Albinar – they made a few zooms in this diapason, but all is started from 28mm, so it was probably one from this list:

    Super Albinar 28-70 mm f/ 3.9-4.8 MC Auto Macro
    Super Albinar 28-75 mm f/ 3.5-4.5 MC Auto Macro
    Albinar-ADG 28-80 mm f/ 3.5-4.5 MC Auto ø72
    Albinar-ADG 28-80 mm f/ 3.5-4.5 ø62
    Albinar ADG 28-85 mm f/ 3.5-4.5 MC Macro

Howard M Nulse · 2020-10-16 at 20:24

Thank you for your response. For some reason, those f/3.9-4.8 apertures ring a bell, but it’s a distant one. I’m a “Minoltaphile” from the 1970s having gotten an SRT-201 with the 50mm f/1.7 lens as my first nice camera. I got the XG-M later, but the XD 11 was my dream camera so finally getting one 40+ years later is like stepping into Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine (seriously dated reference alert). We’ll see what this “lightweight” 28-70mm does on film, along with that f/1.2 and the “Beercan’s” older brother, Minolta’s MD Zoom 70-210mm f/4. What recommendations do you have for B&W and color film, or should I just opt to digitize images from this camera?

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