Minolta AF 200mm f/2.8 APO G HS - Review / Lab Test
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published July 2011
Special thanks to Dieter Scherk for providing this lens for testing!
Normally we don't have the resources to test legacy (discontinued) lenses here at Photozone. However, every once in a while we are feeling an itch to escape the mainstream when stumbling across a legend. Now there are many "supposed-to-be-legendary" lenses from the 70s and 80s. However, lens design has not stood still and there are, honestly, really only few marvels out there with respect to their optical capabilities (by today's standards). We'll now have a look at the Minolta AF 200mm f/2.8 APO G HS. Its original optical design dates back to 1986 - 25 years old at the time of this review. So what is so special about it ? Well, during its time it was one of the very best 200mm prime lenses and it has always been a mystery why Sony didn't take advantage of it for their current lineup - after all they own all the patents following the Minolta takeover. Anyway, let's have a look whether this reputation has a value beyond a collector's scope and whether the extremely high prices (50%+ over its latest retail price) over at eBay are actually justified.
The Minolta lens belong to the "G" (Gold) series - a classification which is continued to be used by Sony to mark professional grade lenses. Unlike on Sony G lenses this is also visible via the corresponding "golden" ring at the lens front. The 200mm f/2.8 APO G has a fairly complex mechanical design. It is, of course, based on a metal body and a metal mount. However, it also features a telescope-style build-in lens hood which can be locked. Additionally it is possible to "hide" the focus ring by sliding up (and lock) a metal cowling - a measure to protect the mechanism against the elements and it hides the rotating focus ring in AF mode. The broad, rubberized focus ring operates smoothly. The physical length remains constant due to an IF (internal focusing) mechanism. Consequently the front element does not rotate during AF operations.
The Minolta lens relies on the conventional screw-driven AF operated by the camera. However, the AF performance is pretty impressive and the tested sample had no issues with AF accuracy, too. The noise emissions are fairly high though. We've tested the "HS" (High-Speed AF) variant of the lens which is supposed to be 1/3 faster than its non-HS predecessor. Unfortunately manual focusing is very difficult due to the very short focus path. - which is also a reason for the high AF speed.
|Optical construction||8 elements in 6 groups inc. 2x AD elements|
|Number of aperture blades||9|
|min. focus distance||1.5 m (max. magnification: 1:6.25)|
|Dimensions||86 x 135 mm|
|Filter size||72 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||built-in hood, barrel-shaped|
|Other features||focus hold button, focus limiter, compatible to converters|