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Here's a brief look at the Minolta AF 80-200mm shutter cap zoom lens.  Scroll down for the main review.

Lens

Minolta AF 80-200mm F/4.5-5.6 shutter cap   

Box contents

Rear cap and user's manual.

Cost

$30-$50 in good used condition.

Build quality

Cheap plastic, but good fit and finish.

Additional information

Introduced in 1988.

Specifications below

 

Optical configuration

9 elements in 9 groups

Angle of view

30°-12° full frame,  20°-8° APS-C.

Aperture

7 blades, curved

Full frame and APS-C

Yes, full frame and APS-C.   APS-C equivalent, 120mm-300mm

Depth of field and focus scales?

Nothing.

Minimum focus, image plane to subject

57.25"  (1454mm)

Minimum focus, end of lens barrel to subject

51"  (1295mm)

Hard stop at infinity focus?

Yes, but no marks

Length changes when focusing?

Yes

Focus ring turns in AF?

Yes

Filter size

46mm

Filter ring rotates?

No

Distance encoder?

No
 

Max magnification

0.16x, or 1:6.25

Min. F/stop

F/22-29

Sony teleconverter compatible?

No

Length changes when zooming?

Yes

Dimensions WxL  (my measurements)

2.6" x 3.1"   67mm x 78mm.  

Maximum  extended length (my measurements)

4.8"  (121mm)  includes 6mm focus extension                                             

Weight bare (my scale)

9.8oz  (279g)  10.3oz (292g) with rear cap.


Requisite product shots.

May2010/3580scftclos3.jpg
35-80mm on left, 80-200mm on right. Front shutter closed
May2010/3580scftopen2.jpg
35-80mm on left, 80-200mm on right. Front shutter opened.
May2010/3580scbk.jpg
Backside
May2010/3580scsdlow.jpg
35-80mm on left, 80-200mm on right. fully drawn in
May2010/3580scsdex.jpg
35-80mm on left, 80-200mm on right. fully extended, including focus.

 
 
The Sony A900 was used for this review, (except for the macro shot).  For a better understanding of terms and methods used in this review, go here.
 
Instead of offering quality optics at a low price as a purchasing incentive, Minolta decided to try and lure buyers with a cool looking pair of lenses with a somewhat convenient built-in front cap.  These were kit type lenses, (made in Japan), and released around 1988.  They both featured a front shutter cap that opened and closed like the doors on the Starship Enterprise.  Unfortunately, they weren't futuristic, or ahead of their time.  They were from the bad ol' days, like the TV show "Lost in Space."
 
The product shots show both lenses, but this review will cover only the Minolta AF 80-200mm F/4.5-5.6 model, on the right side in the shots above.
 
Fit and finish are good, but it still feels like it has an over-abundance of plastic, like the Sony 18-70mm kit lens.  It does have a metal mount and the ability to use 46mm filters.  There is no hood for the lens, and a screw-on type would probably result in additional light fall-off at wide angle, based on tests with a filter.  The color and sheen, black satin, is the same as the later models of Minolta and Konica Minolta lenses, and most of the newer Sony lenses.
 
The shutter cap opens and closes by way of a sliding switch on the side of the barrel, towards the top, see product shots above.  Spring pressure holds the blades closed, but very light finger pressure (or stuffing the lens in a bag) will open them up.  Banging the front part of the lens against something solid would probably protect the front element, but then again, if it broke, there wouldn't be a great loss.
 
All filters go on the outside (or on top) of the shutter mechanism, so they will be prone to damage because they are unprotected.  Unfortunately, the filter is probably worth more than the lens itself!
 
The zoom action is somewhat stiff, but it holds its position well, so there is no zoom creep.  Focal length index marks come at 80mm, 135mm, and 200mm, and the EXIF data matches those lengths.  There's a blue "M" above the 200mm index mark, which means that's the maximum reproduction size setting, or largest macro size.
 
In the box is the lens, and rear cap.  There is no hood for this lens.
 
Focusing.  AF works good, so don't try and manual focus, it requires turning the extension barrel, and is a real hassle unless zoomed out some.  If you want infinity, crank it over to the hard stop and it will be right.  Focusing takes about 1/5 of a turn from close up, to infinity.  Also, focus extension adds 6mm to the length.


Lens flare/ghosting.  Below average control for a telephoto zoom by today's standards.  I see multi-color ghosts if the sun is at the edge, or inside the image.  The ghosts change shape and color with focal length and aperture.  Look below for examples.  Veiling glare seems a little strong as you zoom out, so prepare to block the sun or other super-bright light source with your hand to keep the contrast up in your shots, if the sun isn't actually in the shot.  

Color fringing (CA).  below average control.  Look for minor to moderate amounts of lateral color fringing (magenta) towards the short end, and heavy amounts (green and magenta) near the long end.  I see some axial color fringing in the centers at the long end when the aperture is wide open, but stopping down gets rid of it.
 
Bokeh.  Mostly harsh, especially when the aperture is wide open, but looks a little smoother by stopping down.  Look below for sample crops.
 
Color.   Same as other Minolta AF lenses. 
 
Close up filter.  N/A    
 
Coma.  None.
 
Regular filters cause very minor additional light fall-off on full frame cameras at 80mm, F/4.5.  
 
Filter size is 46mm.  This is an odd-ball size, and not used on any other Minolta lenses, except the little brother to this lens, the Minolta AF 35-80mm F/4-5.6.
 
Distortion.  You'll notice moderate pincushion distortion around 80mm, then gradually getting worse as you zoom in, where pincushion is strong at 200mm.  Check out the cropped samples below.
 
Distortion examples directly below.
 

May2010/80200dis80.jpg
80mm, moderate pincushion distortion.
May2010/80200dis200.jpg
200mm, strong pincushion distortion.

 

Aperture/focal length guide.

 

Maximum aperture

          F/4.5

       F/5

        F/5.6

Range

80mm-90mm

100mm - 110mm

120mm-200mm

 
Bokeh crops next.
 

           80mm F/4.5

             80mm F/5.6

May2010/80mmbokf45.jpg
May2010/80mmbokf56.jpg

           200mm F/5.6

             200mm F/8

May2010/200mmf56bok.jpg
May2010/200mmf8bok.jpg

 

Bokeh is pretty harsh at all focal lengths, especially when the aperture is wide open, but does smooth out some by stopping down.     

 

 

Flare and ghosting below.

 

80mm F/5.6, ghosting.

80mm F/11, ghosting.

May2010/80200gst80f56.jpg
May2010/80200gst80f11.jpg

 
I see multi-colored blobs when the sun is near, or inside the image.  The shots above were taken at 80mm, and zooming in makes things worse.  This lens produces some heavy veiling glare, especially zoomed in, and overall control of glare and ghosting is poor when compared to modern telephoto zooms. 
 

 
Light fall-off.

See the crops below.  Light fall-off or corner shading is heavy at 80mm, F/4.5, especially when focused close.  Stopping down helps.  At longer focal lengths, there is some light fall-off when the aperture is wide open, but stopping down a little really helps out.    

           80mm F/4.5

             80mm F/5.6

May2010/80200vig8045.jpg
May2010/80200vig8056.jpg

           80mm F/4.5 close focus

             80mm F/8

May2010/80200vig8045cf.jpg
May2010/80200vig8080.jpg

           200mm F/5.6 

             200mm F/8

May2010/80200vig20056.jpg
May2010/80200vig20080.jpg


Center sharpness.

Below are crops from the image centers at 80mm.

         F/4.5

          F/5.6

May2010/80200wf45ctr.jpg
May2010/80200wf56ctr.jpg

         F/8

          F/11

May2010/80200wf80ctr.jpg
May2010/80200wf11ctr.jpg

 
Center sharpness is poor when used wide open at 80mm, however, stopping down to F/8, sharpens things up.  The centers actually look pretty sharp at F/8, and stopping down more isn't necessary.
 
 
Below, crops from the 80mm mid-section.
 

         F/4.5

          F/5.6

May2010/80200wf45mid.jpg
May2010/80200wf56mid.jpg

         F/8

          F/11

May2010/80200wf80mid.jpg
May2010/80200wf11mid.jpg

 

At the mid-section, (APS-C corner area) sharpness is better at F/4.5 than the center crop, that's weird.  There is some light fall-off, which lowers the exposure in this area, but sharpness doesn't look any better when stopped down.

 

Below are the corners at 80mm.

 

         F/4.5

          F/5.6

May2010/80200wf45cn.jpg
May2010/80200wf56cn.jpg

         F/8

          F/11

May2010/80200wf80cn.jpg
May2010/80200wf11cn.jpg

 
The 80mm corner crops are poor, and don't really seem to sharpen up any by closing the aperture.
 
 


Center sharpness at 200mm.

Below are crops from the image centers at 200mm.

         F/5.6

          F/8

May2010/80200tf56ctr.jpg
May2010/80200tf80ctr.jpg

         F/11

          F/16

May2010/80200tf11ctr.jpg
May2010/80200tf16ctr.jpg

 
Center sharpness at full telephoto suffers from poor contrast with the aperture wide open, however, stopping down sharpens up the image a little, but not much.  Notice the color fringing is gone in the centers at F/8-11.
 
 
Below, crops from the 200mm mid-section.
 

         F/5.6

          F/8

May2010/80200tf56mid.jpg
May2010/80200tf80mid.jpg

         F/11

          F/16

May2010/80200tf11mid.jpg
May2010/80200tf16mid.jpg

 

At the mid-section, (APS-C corner area) I see the same issue as with the 80mm crops, the mid-section looks a little sharper than the center crops with the aperture wide open, but about the same stopped down.

 

Below are the corners at 200mm.

 

         F/5.6

          F/8

May2010/80200tf56cn.jpg
May2010/80200tf80cn.jpg

         F/11

          F/16

May2010/80200tf11cn.jpg
May2010/80200tf16cn.jpg

 
The corners have low contrast, and don't respond much by stopping down.  Also, notice the massive lateral color fringing, which doesn't go away by closing the aperture.  The corner crops above are a little off (as compared to the others at 200mm), because I was sloppy in taking the original images.
 
 
 
Let's check out the macro capabilities of this lens.

Below, check out the 100% cropped portion of the full image.  The sample shot was taken with the Sony A 700 12.2MP camera.  The subject is a standard US stamp, 0.87"x 1.0" or 22mm x 25mm.  Also, note the macro shot was taken as close to the subject as focusing allowed; in this case a long 51" (1295mm), measured from the front of the lens barrel to the subject.  
 
This lens has a reproduction size of 0.16x which is somewhat small for a telephoto zoom lens in today's world.  Contrast is noticeably poor.  F/11 was the sharpest at close focus.   As a side note; the "1996" on the bottom left of the stamp measures a mere 1mm wide.
 

May2010/80200mmac275.jpg
As close as you can get. F/11. No larger image

   
 
 
Conclusion. 
 

This lens performs better than its little brother, the Minolta AF 35-80mm F/4-5.6, unfortunately, it's not much better. It's a total waste on a full frame camera, either digital or film.  It might be ok on a 6mp camera from long ago.

 

This is a lens you would buy (at a very low price) for emergency use only, such as photographing in a place where you think you may be attacked or robbed.  You could also permanently keep it in the trunk of your car in case you forget your real telephoto zoom lens.

 

If you have an APS-C camera, you might try the better 55-200mm DT lens.