Minolta MD 35-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom Macro – 16 elements in 13 groups – review

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Minolta MD 35-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom Macro (16el.13gr.) lens review

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

A bit unusual zoom for MD-III Minolta line – too many metals is visible in exterior. The combination of F4.5 with 105mm for the long end looks quite fast for portraits, so the main question – what a sharpness this lens can offer?

Minolta MD 35-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom Macro 16el 13gr specifications

# in minolta.eazypix.de index 261
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.] 16
Lens design [gr.] 13
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm] 55
Lens Shade clip-in
closefocus[m/ft] 1.6/5.25
Dimension Ø x length [mm] 65×90.5
Weight[g] 480
Year 1982
Style MD III
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No. 2519-110
Notes 2-Touch w/ macro mode across zoom range

Floating elements NO
Aperture blades number 6
Confidence in the test results of reviewed copies
Reviewed Lens SN: 1016005

Historical note:

Minolta produced two different 35-105mm lenses, both are New-MD generation. This article is about the older (or the first) modification from 1981, 16el.-13gr., 1.6m close focus, and Macro available over the whole diapason. Total production estimation is about 20000 copies.

(The newer version has been observed already on the site (link) – it is the lens with 14 elements in 12 groups and minimal focus distance 1.5m. Macro mode is available at 105mm only. The production was started in 1983.)

Minolta MD 35-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom 16el 13gr lens exterior

Mounted on Minolta X-700

Original lens-shade (lens-hood)

Minolta MD 35-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom 16el 13gr 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 16el 13gr 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 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 16el 13gr 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 16el 13gr TEST RESULTS on FOCUS DISTANCE = 105mm

105mm – Sharpness – close 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 16el 13gr final conclusion

At the beginning of the review, I planned to answer one question – is it possible to shoot portraits with this zoom? Actually – yes. That is, if you have nothing more specialized for portrait photography, then this lens is quite suitable. Not only that, if you don’t have anything more suitable for landscapes at 35mm focal length, then it can handle landscapes too. Not as good as the steeper 35mm lenses, but you won’t be ashamed of the technical quality of the photos.

Actually, this is the essence of the lens – it is a real travel zoom for amateurs. When you are not ready to shoot the sea/mountains/flowers/friends on your smartphone, but you don’t want to drag a bucket of prime lenses with you either.

Surprisingly, at 35mm it has no geometric distortion. Although at 105mm there is already a very noticeable pillow, and I want to say that without future geometry correction at 105mm it is better not to shoot. Yes, this is corrected without any problems in editors, but in terms of the strength of distortion it is already somewhat close to some modern zooms, when calculating which the manufacturer planned digital correction in advance. But I repeat – this is noticeable only closer to 105mm, and at wide angles there is no distortion at all. 50mm is also quite suitable.

And in everything else – a typical zoom. There were no special expectations for this and because of this there is no particular reason to criticize it. Coma, chromatic aberration – very few. Vignetting wide open is noticeable, but not beyond the average. There is even “swirly” bokeh – well, not Helios of course, but when shooting portraits or flowers it can be useful.
In total, the lens practically did not fail the tests. Of course, it has a lot of features that need to be kept in mind when photographing, but it is better to consider that from a technical point of view, we have a very good lens.

And, the most important thing is 105mm. The fact is that 85mm for portraits is often too small (of course, I mean full frame). And these insignificant additional 20mm, it would seem, should not change much, but nevertheless, it works. Yes, 135mm will be even better, but also larger, which can be a drawback for a travel zoom.

Can it be recommended? In the role of travel zoom – definitely yes. As a replacement for a specialized 35mm lens – so-so, or perhaps yes in amateur use. In the role of a portrait lens, it will also be good. OK, deal – It can be recommended but with all the caveats above.


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