Minolta 35-70mm 3.5

Front view of a Minolta 35-70mm 3.5 lens.
Front view of a Minolta 35-70mm 3.5 lens.
Minolta 35-70mm 3.5

Focal Lenght: 35 – 70
Max Apeture: 3.5 – 22
Lens Mount: Minolta MD
Min. Focus: 1 m
Filter Size: 55mm
Weight: 365 g
Coated:Yes – Blue & Purple Ice Cream 

LENS STORY

For a long time I had this concept stuck in the back of my mind – Primes are better than zooms. I noticed when I was out browsing for a lens, I’d steer clear of zoom lenses, thinking to myself, why would I get one? Old zooms aren’t as good as old primes. 

As with most things you catch yourself doing, this made me feel like my bias made me miss out on something.

After some research and digging around I marked out a few zooms I wanted to try. Canon FD L lenses we’re expensive and hard to find, so when I read about the Minolta 35-70 it was right up my alley. 

Why did I choose this lens? There are 3 version of it – the first one was good enough for Leica to base their Vario-Elmar 35-70 3.5 on it. Mine is the second one, which most forums and reviews say is a bit sharper than the first one. I did feel a bit bad after picking it up and realizing it’s not the 3rd Macro version. Do your research before buying folks! 🙂

HANDLING

Not too heavy, useful range, moderately fast. There’s a dedicated zoom ring, which I managed to mistake for the aperture ring several times, but otherwise all good. 

It’s a well build lens with a metal barrel and a bit of plastic on the zoom and aperture ring. It’s pleasant to use and doesn’t feel like you’re carrying a massive lens on your small mirrorless camera.

Fun fact: It might be possible to convert the aperture to 2.8 via modification, from what I’ve read performance is not that good, so it might not be worth it. As always – do so at your own risk and don’t risk a perfectly good lens!

 

OPTICAL PERFORMANCE

You get adequate sharpness wide open, stop down and results are great. I tended to stick to the 35mm side of things, as at 70mm I didn’t find subject isolation that great. Most likely my own lack of skill and not the lens itself.  

Stopping down to f8 was enough for my landscape needs. 

On color:

Well saturated colors, more on the neutral side. More of a gentle caress than a “pop” color kind of thing. A good balance of contrast – although I might be spoiled and used to better, so I felt results were bleak at times. 

I did have some trouble with flaring at times, but a hood should sort things out. Flares cause loss of contrast and I personally like that look.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The first part of my journey with this lens was mediocre. The zoom did help me with composition and framing, but I tended to stick to a focal lenght and not move much most of the time. I’m just a prime boy. (Sing this line in a Queen-ish voice, please.)

It’s a good range, covering your 35mm, 50mm and weird-wider-than-usual portait 70mm.

It’s not heavy, so if you’re travelling this might be a good choice for you. 

If you’re curious about what zooms have to offer – I say go for it. But do learn from my mistakes and get the macro version!