Minolta MD 35-70mm 1:3.5 Zoom No Macro – MDIII – review

Published by Tony on

Minolta MD 35-70mm 1:3.5 Zoom NM (no macro) lens review

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

This is the most popular manual zoom lens in the whole Minolta. Or even in the whole world. The second edition – New-MD design but still without macro-mode. (The macro version has been reviewed here)

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

Minolta MD 35-70mm 1:3.5 Zoom NM + Minolta X-700

Minolta MD 35-70mm 1:3.5 Zoom NM specifications:

# in minolta.eazypix.de index258
Name engraved on the lensMD ZOOM
f[mm]35-70
A max [1/f]3.5
A min[1/f]22
Lens design [el.]8
Lens design [gr.]7
Filter thread Ø front(rear)[mm]55
Lens Shadeclip-in
closefocus[m/ft]1/3.5
Dimension Ø x length [mm]69×65.5
Weight[g]355
Year1981
StyleMD III
Code No. (ROKKOR-X) or Order No.675-810
Notes

More data

Floating elementszoom
Aperture blades number6
Average international price (sold items)2020: USD 40-60
Reviewed Lens SN:8113923

 

 

This is one of the most famous Minolta lenses. Indeed, a wonderful zoom. As sharp as a fixed focal length lens. Well, perhaps a little worse in geometric distortion and not as fast as the fixes, but this is compensated by the fact that this is a zoom.

Has been released in three versions:

  • Minolta Rokkor MD (MD II) – lenses reviewers usually mention that the first version of this lens was so cool that even Leica licensed it. Although it is probably worth mentioning that in those years, Leica was hardly able to do something technologically advanced. Well, except for rangefinder cameras, invented before the war. But, yes, Minolta made this lens for Leica too. Apart from the label, there were no changes.
  • Minolta MD without macro mode (New-MD, MD III) – this currently reviewed lens. Peoples from photo-resources considered that it is better than the first, but I still didn’t test the Rokkor lens, therefore, I can neither confirm nor deny.
  • Minolta MD with macro mode (New-MD, MD III) – with added Macro-button. IQ has been considered very similar to the previous one. It was reviewed on the Lensqaworks and I’m going to publish a comparison between these two later versions soon. Note for flower-hunters: this version has 1:4 macro, not a big deal from the real-macro point of view but for plants, it may be a great advantage – the lens is able to focus on about 25cm distance, it is much better than the standard 80-100cm for previous models.

Minolta MD 35-70mm 1:3.5 Zoom NM lens exterior

Minolta MD 35-70mm 1:3.5 Zoom NM Zoom mounted on Minolta X-700

Minolta MD 35-70mm 1:3.5 Zoom NM 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 35-70mm 1:3.5 Zoom NM – 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

Minolta MD 35-70mm 1:3.5 Zoom NM - resolution 35mm

35mm – Vignetting

35mm – Geometric distortion

35mm – Coma aberrations

35mm – Chromatic aberrations

35mm – Long-distance bokeh

Test#1:

Test conditions: the lens was focused on minimal distance on the scale 1.0m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance.

35mm – Light bubbles long-distance bokeh

Test #1

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 1.0m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Minolta MD 35-70mm 1:3.5 Zoom NM 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

Minolta MD 35-70mm 1:3.5 Zoom NM - resolution 50mm

50mm – Vignetting

50mm – Geometric distortion

50mm – Coma aberrations

50mm – Chromatic aberrations

50mm – Long-distance bokeh:

Test#1:

Test conditions: the lens was focused on minimal distance on the scale 1.0m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance.

50mm – Light bubbles long-distance bokeh

Test #1

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 1.0m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Minolta MD 35-70mm 1:3.5 Zoom NM 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

Minolta MD 35-70mm 1:3.5 Zoom NM - resolution 70mm

70mm – Vignetting

70mm – Geometric distortion

70mm – Coma aberrations

70mm – Chromatic aberrations

70mm – Long-distance bokeh

Test#1:

Test conditions: the lens was focused on minimal distance on the scale 1.0m, buildings are on “infinity”-distance.

70mm – Light bubbles long-distance bokeh:

Test #1

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 1.0m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

Minolta MD 35-70mm 1:3.5 Zoom NM – final conclusion

I will honestly say that I am not a fan of the 35-70/3.5 lens lines from Minolta. More precisely, I do not like using them in real shooting. I already wrote about the reasons in another review. However, I try to be objective and admit that these zooms are possibly the best in this focal range.
The main strengths that make this particular tested lens model great:

The Center and Middle areas are totally sharp on any focus distances. (I think here is the source of the mentions that these 35-70 lenses are very sharp: the first tests on digital cameras were performed on the 1.5-cropped sensors – not very sharp corners have been cut off)

  • Corners became sharp at 8. Very good result for zoom.
  • It has almost no serious aberrations. Just the geometry is not ideal on 35mm and 70mm but it is very acceptable for a zoom lens.
  • Cheap, easy to find, with convenient focal distances, lightweight, two-touch.
  • It is a zoom – the user doesn’t need to switch lenses during the process

The negative side:

  • Two primes 35mm and 50mm would be much faster with better aberrations. And they will take the same size and weight in the photographers’ bag. And probably for the same price.

Can it be recommended? Yes, this is a beautiful zoom. If the previously mentioned negative side doesn’t matter for an owner.


2 Comments

Mohammad varzideh · 2022-01-23 at 11:03

Hello Tony.
There is a broblem with this lens and other lenses in this type . It has heptagon bokeh on short focal length wide open that is obvious on your test . I don’t know the origin of this lens’s designation (minolta or leica or etc ) but nikon 35-70mm f3.5 AI has the same specs and problem on 35mm wide open . its a really good general purpose lens but i just give it a little space on my shelf . Like you i prefer primes .
Good luck .

    Tony · 2022-01-23 at 11:52

    Hello Mohammad, yes, these polygons in the bokeh are a known trait of lenses like this one, but I don’t pay attention to this because for some users it is a more positive side – it adds more character to the lens. You may have noticed that when artists draw bokeh in animation, they often make highlights not round, but polygonal – this brings the picture closer to reality. But yes, obviously – many users don’t like polygons in the bokeh, that’s why I (in my reviewer role) prefer to don’t judgment lenses by this parameter in the reviews, it is always better if readers make their own opinion based on materials

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