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Here's a brief look at the Konica Minolta AF 17-35mm F/2.8-4 (D) lens.  Scroll down for the review.

Lens

Konica Minolta AF 17-35mm F/2.8-4 (D) 

Box contents

Front and rear caps, hood, and a users manual.

Cost

$250-$300 on eBay

Build quality

Good

Additional information

No longer produced and no Sony equivalent yet.

Specifications below

 

Optical configuration

14 elements in 11 groups

Angle of view

104°-63° full frame, 69°-42° APS-C.

Aperture

7 blades, circular

Full frame and APS-C

Yes, made for full frame.   APS-C equivalent, 25.5-52.5mm

Depth of field and focus scales?

Just focus scale

Minimum focus, image plane to subject

13"  (330mm)

Minimum focus, end of lens barrel to subject

6"  (152mm)

Hard stop at infinity focus?

No

Length changes when focusing?

No

Focus ring turns in AF?

Yes

Filter size

77mm

Filter ring rotates?

No

Distance encoder?

Yes

Max magnification

0.19x

Min. F/stop

F/22-32

Sony teleconverter compatible?

No

Length changes when zooming?

Yes

Dimensions W x L (my measurements)

3.3" x 3.5"   83mm x 88mm 

Maximum  extended length (my measurements)

3.8"  (96mm)                                                      

Weight bare (my scale)

15.2oz  (431g)  16.04oz (466g) with caps


Requisite product shots.

Aug08/km1735ft.jpg
Front
Aug08/km1735box.jpg
Box and lens
Aug08/km1735bk.jpg
Backside
Aug08/km1735sd.jpg
Side shot fully extended


The Sony A700 and Sony A900 were used for this review.  Go to the bottom of the page for full frame results.  For a better understanding of my review methods and terminology, go here.
 
Check out the comparison review which includes this lens. 
 
The Konica Minolta 17-35mm F/2.8-4 (D) is very similar to the KM/Sony DT 11-18mm F/4.5-5.6.  They're both about the same size, same weight, same basic front element and filter, and they perform alike.  The barrel extends out 1/4" (6mm) when zooming.  This lens can be used on a full frame or film camera, unlike the 11-18mm which is for APS-C cameras only.  The focal length scale is marked at 17mm, 20mm, 24mm, 28mm and 35mm.  The lens is matte black, and looks to be made of a mixture of metal and plastic, with a good build quality.  It has no focus distance window but has the distance scale in FT/M.  It has a metal mount.  The lens says Japan so I assume it's made in Japan.  The "D" means it has a distance encoder for ADI flash metering, most Sony lenses have this, but not all.  Konica Minolta claims the use of aspherical and AD glass in the lens, no word on how many each.  I believe Tamron made this lens for Konica Minolta.
 
Filter size is 77mm, which is the same as the Sony 70-200mm, 24-70mm, CZ 135mm, and 11-18mm.   

Zooming.  Nice and easy, just right.  The focal length marks don't correspond exactly to the index marks in the EXIF data.  If the lens marks read close to 29mm-30mm, the EXIF data would show 28mm etc.  No big deal.

Focusing.  Auto-focusing is pretty quick and accurate, manual focusing is OK to good.  These less-expensive lenses aren't really made to be manually focused, especially on a wide angle.  There is sufficient rotational movement (1/4 turn) for an accurate focus though. 
 
Coma.  Moderate to strong with the aperture wide open, at both ends.  Not really noticeable at F/5.6.
 
Color looks the same as the newer Sony lineup. 
 
Lateral color fringing.  Control here ok, not great, very similar to, and slightly better than the KM/Sony 11-18 DT lens.  Stopping down does nothing.  Pretty common results among super-wide zoom lenses.
 
Bokeh.   Not too bad in the centers, but on the image periphery it can be harsh.  I prefer the stopped down look as it is more consistent throughout the image.  Overall, smoother towards wide angle.  See crops below.
 
Aperture/focal length guide for the Konica Minolta 17-35mm F/2.8-4 (D)

Maximum aperture

F/2.8

F/3.2

F/3.5

F/4

Range

17mm-18mm

20mm - 24mm

26mm - 28mm

28mm - 35mm


The numbers above are pretty normal, the overlapping 28mm on the end is also normal and depends on tiny rotational movements of the zoom ring. 
 
Lens distortion below.

Aug08/km1735brl.jpg
Barrel distortion @17mm.

Aug08/km1735pin.jpg
Pincushion distortion @35mm.

 

Distortion.  Moderate to strong barrel distortion at 17mm, by 22mm it's flat, then pincushion starting at 26mm, though pretty mild to 35mm.  Very good from 20-30mm.

 

 

Example of ghosting below
 

2008/1735ght.jpg
Green blobs in left center at 17mm, F/8.


Lens Flare/Ghosting.  The KM 17-35mm F/2.8-4 does a decent job with flare, but ghosting can be strong at times around 17mm, with a long line of green blobs from the sun.  The F/8 shot above was taken in the morning, with the sun just out of the frame.  Veiling flare is controlled well.  F/2.8 shots were very similar to F/8, except the green blobs are more diffused as you open the aperture.  The lens comes with a plastic petal type hood, but doesn't help with the problem above.  Use your hand for much better control.  Do not use this lens if you like to take pictures with the sun close to the center of the image.  Dead center shots look terrible, see below.  Things look marginally better as you zoom in.
 
Random samples.
 

        17mm, F/3.5 sun centered

          17mm,  F/22 sun centered

october08/1735sun.jpg

october08/1735sun22.jpg

         17mm, F/2.8

          17mm,  F/5.6

october08/km1735bokf28w.jpg

october08/km1735bokf56w.jpg

        35mm,  F/4

         35mm,  F/5.6

october08/km1735bokf4tel.jpg
october08/km1735bokf56tel.jpg

 

These 100% crops were taken from the center of the image where bokeh looks best, towards the periphery, things get a bit busy, especially on the wide end.  I happen to like the stopped down look best, because the blur shape stays more consistent throughout the image.  The 17mm crops come from the center background about 8ft (2.4m) behind the close focused subject.  The 35mm crops also come from the center about 15ft (4.6m) behind the subject. 

 

Light fall-off below. 

 

                        17mm  F/2.8

                        17mm  F/4

2008/km1728vig.jpg
2008/km1740.jpg


Actual results below with real subject.  17mm @ F/2.8

2008/1735vig.jpg


When you look at the 17mm test charts above, light fall-off appears moderate, stopping the lens down a stop or two eliminates most of the issue.  There's an overall darkening of the frame at 35mm and F/4, but one stop down and it's mostly gone.  You can also see by the real picture directly above that Light fall-off is not really noticeable, a good reason not to trust test charts.

Next we'll check out the center sharpness.

 

17mm real centers.

F/2.8

Aug08/km173528ctr.jpg

F/8

Aug08/km173580ctr.jpg


The centers using the usual US stamp.

 

17mm US stamp centers.

F/2.8

2008/17ctr28d.jpg

F/5.6

2008/17ctr56d.jpg


The 17mm centers on the Konica Minolta AF 17-35mm F/2.8-4 are pretty sharp wide open, but there are slight benefits to stopping down.  F/5.6-8 is the peak of sharpness when focusing close.  F/8 up -close doesn't show any sharper than F/5.6 in my opinion.  The real centers at infinity focus appear sharpest at F/8.  The postal stamp shows little difference between F/2.8 to F/5.6.
 
Corner sharpness.

 

17mm real corners.

F/2.8

2008/17cns28.jpg

F/8

2008/17cns80.jpg


US stamp corners.

 

17mm US stamp corners.

F/2.8

2008/1728c.jpg

F/4

2008/1740c.jpg

F/5.6

2008/1756c.jpg

F/8

2008/1780c.jpg


The US stamp corners show a big improvement at smaller apertures, peaking at F/8-11, but real shots are a bit less dramatic, but worth noting anyhow.

Next we'll check out the 35mm center sharpness.

 

35mm real centers.

F/4

2008/35ctr40e.jpg

F/8

2008/35ctr80e.jpg


The centers using the usual US stamp.

 

35mm US stamp centers.

F/4

2008/35ctr40.jpg

F/8

2008/35ctr80.jpg


The 35mm centers are nice and sharp wide open at F/4, actually falling off at one stop down, but not by much as you can ascertain from the image crops above.  Very good performance here.  The real centers showing no difference except DOF, but the cactus is the subject, not the wall in the background.  The stamp crop sharpness difference is tough to make out too.  Again, that's good.

Corner sharpness.

 

35mm real corners.

F/4

2008/44a40.jpg

F/8

2008/46a80.jpg


US stamp corners.

 

35mm US stamp corners.

F/4

2008/3540b.jpg

F/5.6

2008/3556b.jpg

F/8

2008/3580b.jpg


The 35mm corners are soft at F/4 and F/5.6.  You'll get a big sharpness gain by stopping down to F/8.  Again, really not a big deal.  On a side note; all images above are 100% crops of the original image.

Close focus image next.


Below, check out the maximum magnification sample.  This shot is a 100% cropped portion of the full size picture.  The sample shot was taken with the Sony A 700 12.2MP camera.  The subject is a standard US stamp, 1"x 3/4" or 25.4mm x 19mm.  Also, note the macro shot was taken as close to the subject as focusing allowed; In this case 6" (152mm), measured from the front of the lens barrel to the subject.

Aug08/km1735mac2.jpg
Close macro. F/8. click for full size crop. 192kb.

 

This isn't the best lens for close-up type shots, but it actually produces a decent reproduction ratio, and a sharp one too.

 

 

Full frame results using the Sony A900 below.

 

Check out the differences when using a film or full frame camera below.  I'm only pointing out the noticeable issues as compared to the APS-C bodies, so if I don't show it here, the results are not significantly different enough to warrant posting an additional set of images in this section.

 

Light fall-off 

 

         17mm F/2.8

          17mm F/4

october08/km1735lff28w.jpg

october08/km1735lff4w.jpg

        17mm F/5.6

          17mm F/8

october08/km1735lff56w.jpg
october08/km1735lff80w.jpg

         35mm F/4

          35mm F/5.6

october08/km1735lff4tel.jpg
october08/km1735lff56tel.jpg

 

Light fall-off is worse than the APS-C crops shown earlier.  At 17mm, F/2.8 it shows heavy, and rolls off hard.  There are still some dark corners past F/11.  See real 17mm, f/2.8 image below.  At 17mm, F/2.8, regular UV filters cause slightly more light fall-off in the corners, and regular polarizers cause even more.  Zoomed out to 35mm, there's nothing to be concerned with. 

 

Random shots from A900 below.

 

Ghosts at F/11

Light fall-off at 17mm, F/2.8

october08/km1735ghst900.jpg

october08/km1735vig2.8over9002.jpg

 

This lens produces some harsh flare and ghosting sometimes with a full frame camera.  The sun doesn't have to be very close to the image to cause noticeable ghosts.  Use your hand to shield the sun, the hood won't help much.  When the sun is in the image, you're going to have some problems depending on the sun location within the shot.  The shot on the left looks much worse enlarged.  The right image illustrates light fall-off with a real picture taken at 17mm, F/2.8.  

 

17mm corner samples next.

 

         F/2.8

          F/5.6

october08/km1735cnf28w900.jpg

october08/km1735cnf56w900.jpg

         F/8

          F/11

october08/km1735cnf8w900.jpg
october08/km1735cnf11w900.jpg

 

The corners are softer than the APS-C crops show.  Things sharpen up slightly at F/5.6, (I omitted F/4 as it was the same as F/2.8) then look better at F/8,  F/11 is best.  The exposure differences are from light fall-off.  When shooting landscape scenes, don't be afraid to use F/11, it looks fine with the A900.

 

35mm corners below.

 

         F/4

          F/5.6

october08/km1735cnf4900.jpg

october08/km1735cnf5.6900.jpg

         F/8

          F/11

october08/km1735cnf8900.jpg
october08/km1735cnf11900.jpg

 

The 35mm corners look all-around better than the 17mm crops, they're much sharper wide open.  Things sharpen up a little each time you stop down until F/11.  There isn't much difference between the images above, and the APS-C shots in my opinion.

 

Distortion next.

 

october08/km1735disb900.jpg
Barrel distortion @ 17mm on A900
october08/2870disp900.jpg
Pincushion distortion @ 35mm on A900

 

There is moderate to heavy distortion at both ends on the A900, but it wouldn't be all that noticeable unless you like shooting horizons or buildings close to the edge of the frame. 

 

Coma results with full frame.

 

F/2.8

F/5.6

october08/km1735cma28w.jpg

october08/km1735cma56w.jpg

 

This is coma @ 17mm on the A900.  It look rough, and doesn't go away until late in the game, like F/11, though this lens is not the worst offender at coma.  At 24mm, F/5.6, no problems, same at 35mm.

 



Now for the conclusion.

The Konica Minolta AF 17-35mm super wide angle lens turned in a pretty good performance, especially for $300.  It's really more appropriate for a full frame camera.  The APS-C equivalent is 25.5-52.5mm.  Let's look at the high points.  It's fast wide open, and pretty sharp, and the corners look good a couple stops down.  Cranked out to 35mm, the centers are sharp even at F/4, though the corners benefit from closing the aperture by two stops.  A couple of downers are; distortion is about average for a super wide on an APS-C camera, and color and contrast are lacking compared to other full frame super-wide zooms, though you'll only see this by comparing other lenses using 100% crops---see comparison review.  CA is a about average for a super-wide zoom, but only noticeable is you're looking very close.
 
Full frame users; this lens is very inexpensive for a super-wide, and will perform nearly as good as much more expensive lenses.  See the super-wide zoom comparison page.
 
So who would buy this lens?  This might be a very economical super-wide choice for people with a film or full frame digital camera, it performs similarly to the Sony 16-35mm F/2.8 when stopped down some and viewed at normal sizes.  If you have an APS-C Sony, and don't plan on upgrading to a full frame, I'd just get the more useful 11-18mm F/4.5-5.6, or the Sigma 10-20mm F/4-5.6, both reviewed here.