Minolta MD 35-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom Macro – 14 elements 12 groups – review

Published by Tony on

Minolta MD 35-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom 14el 12gr Macro lens review

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

Almost 3-x zoom with convenient focal distances from enough wide to enough telephoto. 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.

Tests for this review are divided for 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 105mm groups.

Minolta MD 35-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom 14el 12gr + Minolta X-700

Minolta MD 35-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom 14el 12gr specifications

# in minolta.eazypix.de index262
Name engraved on the lensMD 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 Shadeclip-in
closefocus[m/ft]1.5/5
Dimension Ø x length [mm]64×88
Weight[g]430
Year1983
StyleMD III
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No.2525-110
Notes2-Touch w/ macro mode at 105mm
Floating elementsYES
Aperture blades number7
Confidence in the test results of reviewed copiesEnough high
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.

Minolta MD 35-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom 14el 12gr lens exterior

Mounted on Minolta X-700

Original lens-shade (lens-hood)

Minolta MD 35-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom 14el 12gr 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 35-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom 14el 12gr TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 35mm

35mm – Sharpness – a 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#1

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

35mm – Light bubbles long-distance bokeh

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

Minolta MD 35-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom 14el 12gr TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 50mm

50mm – Sharpness – a 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 1.2m, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

50mm – Light bubbles long-distance bokeh

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

 

Minolta MD 35-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom 14el 12gr 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.

70mm – Light bubbles long-distance bokeh

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

Minolta MD 35-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom 14el 12gr TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 105mm

105mm – Sharpness – a short distance

105mm – Scene preview

105mm – Test results

105mm – Sharpness – long distance

105mm – Scene preview

105mm – Test results

105mm – Vignetting

105mm – Geometric distortion

105mm – Coma aberrations

105mm – Chromatic aberrations

105mm – Long-distance bokeh

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

105mm – Light bubbles long-distance bokeh

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

Minolta MD 35-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom 14el 12gr final conclusion

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. And of course, 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 after reviews, 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

Egor · 2019-12-18 at 16:45

OMG! Very strange, especially considering the fact that longer (!) MD 35-135 is a great lens!

    Tony · 2019-12-18 at 20:39

    I’ve tested 35-135 and both lenses – I mean 35-105(14L) and 35-135 show enough the same IQ

roseblood11 · 2019-12-18 at 19:12

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.

    Tony · 2019-12-18 at 20:37

    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

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