Minolta MD 35-135mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom Macro – review

Published by Tony on

Minolta MD 35-135mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom Macro lens review

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

After a few previous reviews of zoom, this one continues to change the standard and popular idea that old zooms are always a bad compromise. Surprisingly, it isn’t the truth again, even for this 4x MD.

Tests for this review are divided for 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 135mm groups.

Minolta MD 35-135mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom + Sony 7

Minolta MD 35-135mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom specifications:

# in minolta.eazypix.de index263
Name engraved on the lensMD ZOOM
f[mm]35-135
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)[mm55
Lens Shadeclip-in
closefocus[m/ft]1.5/5
Dimension Ø x length [mm]64×100
Weight[g]510
Year1983
StyleMD III
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No.2502-110
Note2-Touch w/ macro mode
Floating elementsYES
Aperture blades number6
Confidence in the test results of reviewed copiesHigh
Reviewed lens SN:1011559

The lens has a variable speed from 3.5 to 4.5 depends on focal distance, so, all test results on fully opened aperture were marked with F3.5 to avoid misunderstanding.

Minolta MD 35-135mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom lens exterior:

As you can see in the pictures, my copy lost the rubber coating on the focus-zoom ring. It doesn’t affect the image quality, really, who would not assure you of the opposite.

Minolta MD 35-135mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom 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 35-135mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom TEST RESULTS on FOCAL DISTANCE = 35mm

35mm – Sharpness – a short distance

Scene preview

Test results

35mm – Sharpness – long distance

Scene preview

Test results

35mm – Vignetting

35mm – Geometric distortion

35mm – Coma aberrations

35mm – Chromatic aberrations

35mm – Long-distance bokeh

Test conditions: the lens was focused on 1.5m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance

35mm – Light bubbles bokeh:

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 1.5m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Minolta MD 35-135mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom TEST RESULTS on FOCAL DISTANCE = 50mm

50mm – Sharpness – short distance

Scene preview

Test results

50mm – Sharpness – long distance

Scene preview

Test results

50mm – Vignetting

50mm – Geometric distortion

50mm – Coma aberrations

50mm – Chromatic aberrations

50mm – Long-distance bokeh

Test conditions: the lens was focused on 1.5m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance

50mm – Light bubbles bokeh

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 1.5m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Minolta MD 35-135mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom TEST RESULTS on FOCAL DISTANCE = 85mm

85mm – Sharpness – short distance

Scene preview

Test results

85mm – Sharpness – long distance

Scene preview

Test results

85mm – Vignetting

85mm – Geometric distortion

85mm – Coma aberrations

85mm – Chromatic aberrations

Short-distance bokeh

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 1.5m, plants are in 3m distance from the camera

85mm – Long-distance bokeh

Test conditions: the lens was focused on 1.5m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance

85mm – Light bubbles bokeh

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 1.5m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Minolta MD 35-135mm 1:3.5-4.5 ZoomTEST RESULTS on FOCAL DISTANCE = 135mm

135mm – Sharpness – short distance

Scene preview

Test results

135mm – Sharpness – long distance

Scene preview

Test results

135mm – Vignetting

135mm – Geometric distortion

135mm – Coma aberrations

135mm – Chromatic aberrations

Short-distance bokeh

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 1.5m, plants are in 3m distance from the camera

135mm – Long-distance bokeh

Test conditions: the lens was focused on 1.5m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance

135mm – Light bubbles bokeh

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 1.5m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Minolta MD 35-135mm 1:3.5-4.5 Zoom – overall conclusion:

This is the big one more surprise from Minolta. Maybe it is not a huge gem, but definitely it is still a gem. The lens is good enough for landscapes on short-end – close to the 35mm, and quite appropriate for portraits on long-end, close to the 70mm. Short-end has an ideal geometry, just don’t forget that aperture needs to be closed to F8 at least for “landscapes”-corners, but in most usual scenes F5.6 should be enough. On the 70mm the geometry isn’t good, but doesn’t affect much the objects in the middle part of the frame and photos can be taken even on wide opened, because other aberrations are much less here. Bokeh is appropriate enough for portraits, and a photographer is able to separate objects and backgrounds. Additionally, it’s a very small and lightweight lens for such focal distances.

Of course, I’m not going to say that this lens is a great performer over the whole frame – this is the zoom, and it means that it’s a compromise between convenience and optical quality. I just want to say that this one is a lot better than average expectations of 4x zoom, that’s why a good photographer, who understands the behavior of this lens on the different focal distances is always able to get a nice result. And one more important advantage – it’s a very inexpensive lens for today.


4 Comments

Ty · 2021-05-17 at 21:58

I might be doing something wrong here but I can’t seem to focus 35mm on the MD 35-135mm, I noticed that it is marked ‘f 35mm’ in bright orange for some reason, there also the same bright orange thick line in centre indicator and the 135mm uses a different lighter orange without the f mark, macro mode on this lens is at 135mm. Is the a way to engage the 35mm?

    Tony · 2021-05-18 at 14:21

    I have no idea.. Just a note – the lens has a close-focus 1.5m so try to get focused on the longer distance. If that doesn’t work, then it might be worth checking the lens for damage or improper assembly

Ty · 2021-05-19 at 08:09

Hi Tony, the lens is pristine condition and looks brand new. I think it might be assembled incorrectly maybe but it can focus correctly from 40-45ish, other than that it is in perfect condition. Think I will treat it as 45-135 as I have 35-70 and 70-150 and primes.

    Tony · 2021-05-19 at 14:14

    You can always try to find a new one. While these lenses are not very expensive. In any case, good luck to resolve this issue ))

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