Modern Classic SLR Series
Minolta Maxxum 7000 AF SLR camera - Part VII
First Generation AF Lenses by Minolta for Maxxum 7000 - Part II


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Standard lenses at 50mm focal length

Most of the time, the standard lens is often taken for granted and neglected as a lens capable of complementing a photographer's imagination. But when you see a particular scene as appealing, it is with your own eyes that you perceive it. Technically, a normal lens is defined as one whose focal length closely approximates the diagonal dimension of the picture frame. A 50mm lens' focal length is closest to the 43.2 mm diagonal of the 35 mm camera's 24 x 36 mm frame. Another is that its field of coverage (40° horizontally, 46° diagonally) is roughly equal to what one human eye can view with relative clarity. Even though their focal length are somewhat longer than the 43mm diagonal of the 24 x 36mm format, simply, the 50 mm standard lens gives an "honest" image because of its perspective yields, which is extremely close to what the 'unaided eye sees. And if you want to capture that same view, an appropriate lens choice is the standard 50mm lens. Compared with other focal length lenses, it does not project unusual characteristics into the image - it remains essentially faithful to human vision. Since this lens is usually comes with the SLR as the standard package during those days before the popularity of zoom lens, the 50mm lens is usually sells at the most in 'volume' , it should be the cheapest and more importantly, it usually offers superb optical performance and often referred as the company's yardstick in exhibiting their best in optical design and performance. Why ? Before since it usually comes with the camera as a package during those all manual focus SLRs days, and most likely the lens is usually used as the 'reference lens' in most camera test as well, and thus a lot of research is focusing on its performance. Generally, the standard lenses in the 50mm focal length offer the widest options and at this focal length, it also has the fastest lens speed among all lenses in any brands.

Minolta has designed 3 AF lenses for the MAXXUM 7000 at this specific focal length. Two of them were 'normal' application lens while another was a specialize lens that was specifically for working at close working range, where it was referred as "Macro" lens.

lens5014mm.jpg lens5017mm.jpg lens50macromm.jpg
AF 50mm f/2.8 Macro
Construction: 7 elements in 6 groups
Angle of view: 47
°
Minimum focus: 0.2m
Maximum magnification: 1 X
Minimum f-stop: f/32
Dimensions: d>68.5 x 59.5mm
Weight: 310 g

AF 50mm f/1.4
Construction: 7 elements in 6 groups
Angle of view: 47
°
Minimum focus: 0.45m
Minimum f-stop: f/22
Dimensions: 65.5 x 38.5mm
Weight: 235 g
AF 50mm f/1.7
Construction: 6 elements in 5 groups
Angle of view: 47
°
Minimum focus: 0,45m
Minimum f-stop: f/22
Dimensions: 65.5 x 38.5mm
Weight: 195 g

The fastest AF lens was the AF 50mm f/1.4 lens. Generally, both lenses at f/1.7 or faster will produce a bright and easy to focus image in the viewfinder and allow you to shoot in low light condition without using any artificial illumination such as flash. An additional characteristic of fast lenses is the shallow depth of field that can be obtained when the lens is used at maximum aperture. When the aperture is at its maximum aperture, the foreground and background become blurred, isolating and emphasizing the main subject. The difference between the minimum and maximum apertures of these two lenses is very large so you have a lot of control over whether the depth of field should be deep or shallow. Normal lenses can be used for a variety of subjects like candids, landscapes or full length portraits inside a studio to on location.

The special application optic in the Minolta lens family is the AF 50mm f/2.8 Macro lens. This lens is capable of delivering 1:1 Life-size reproduction. This versatile lens has all the characteristic of a normal standard lens, except with a slower maximum aperture at f/2.8 but unlike the two normal standard lenses which can focus down to only 0.2m and 0.35m respectively, this macro lens is capable of focuses for 1: 1 magnification without extension tubes or adapter rings. And focusing is faster than that which can be done manually. Further, in order to take full advantage of its close focusing capabilities, the minimum aperture has been adjusted to f/32 for maximum control of depth of field. Thus, it is also a very good choice as an alternative 'normal' lens due to its versatility.

Telephoto lenses of 135mm and 300mm

The fascination of a telephoto lens lies in its ability to pull in a distant scene. Without being close to the subject, you can get truly dramatic frame filling shots of almost everything. In comparison to wideangle or normal lenses, telephoto have inherently less depth of field at each f/stop. Selecting wider aperture will easily make subject stand out from background in bold relief. This is often called "selective focus". Another characteristic of telephoto lenses is that it seems to compress the space between objects, producing impression of flattened perspective. Telephoto lenses exhibit moderate-powerful magnifications, minimal depth of field and compressed perspective which makes them indispensable for sports, action, theatrical performance, fashion, news, reportage and wildlife photography.

Minolta has two options in prime lenses at 135mm and (strangely, the 200mm was omitted during that time) another was at a longer focal length of 300mm. Basically, as you move up the focal length scale you'll see an increase in compression of perspective, a narrowing of the angle of view where less background will be revealed, an increased magnification of the image but also a decrease in depth of field. Although these changes are at a less extend with shorter lenses such as 85mm and 100mm lenses but still, the effect is significant enough to notice a powerful visual difference. But with a 135mm, these changes become more apparent.

< A field of view comparison chart of telephoto lenses and the standard lens

The 85mm is about 10° greater in angle of view than the 135mm lens, while the 135mm lens has 10° more angle of view than the 300mm. As we noted earlier, the subject area of the 135mm is about 25 percent of the area covered by the 85mm lens and about four times that of the 300mm. The 50mm covers about four times the subject area of the 100mm lens. The 100mm covers about four times that of the 200mm.

Most noticeable is the compressed perspective begins to shown in a more obvious form those lenses of shorter focal length. Generally, photographers use 135mm lenses to photograph action-type of photography or as an outstanding portrait lens on the other. In fact, 135mm can also be a very good lens for landscape as its narrower angle of view is good to isolate scenic view.

lens135mm.jpg
AF 135mm f/2.8
Construction: 7 elements in 5 groups
Angle of view: 18
°
Minimum focus: 1 m
Minimum f-stop: f/32
Dimensions: 65.5 x 83mm
Weight: 365 g
The advantage of its maximum and constant apertures of 135mm lenses are its flexibility in providing more depth of field control and high speed enough to make the lenses useful in low light situations especially when used in combination with faster films.

If you have the financial resources to spare and has a physical body to take on weight, Minolta has also designed a massive 2,480g AF 300mm f/2.8 APO lens for you to use. Compared with a wide-angle lens that covers a tremendous-subject area, a 300mm super telephoto lens is more than good enough to reach out distant to magnify the subject and at the same time eliminates distracting elements in the photograph.

Although most people would regard 300mm focal length as the end of "normal" telephoto lenses, but I would like to classify it under short super telephoto lenses category . This lens was the only* APO class prime optic which uses rare earth glass to contain chromatic aberration, an optical aberration which might degrade performance of a lens often found at longer focal length lenses.

lens300mmf28.jpg
AF 300mm f/2.8 APO
Construction: 11 elements in 9 groups
Angle of view: 8
° 10'
Minimum focus: 2.5m
Minimum f-stop: f/32
Dimensions: of 28 x 238.5mm
Weight:
2,480 g

* Minolta added AF 200mm f/2.8 APO and AF 600mm f/4.0 APO prime lenses later. Telephoto lenses usually have larger entrance pupils than wideangle

With an angle of view decreases to 8° 10', the 300mm telephoto lens gives magnification of 5X over normal 50mm focal length. It is not a cheap lens, because it features some of the best optical innovation can offer; features such as "APO' (Low dispersion glass) to ensure images of brilliantly crisp images with excellent color rendition and internal focusing system is also incorporated in these lenses to eliminate traditional heavy, bulky Helicoid system. The 300mm super telephoto lens shares many similarities with 'normal' telephoto lenses except they are extend their key features to a greater degree. It is characterized to have an extremely narrow angle of view of 8° 10' with depth of field almost limited to the plane of focus, unless stopped down to their minimal departure which usually being designed to provide f/22 or f/32. The lens also seem to compress space to the point where objects which in reality separated by great distances between, appearing to have tack right behind one another - a creative visual advantage which often used and manipulate by many creative eyes behind the viewfinder.

The powerful extra reach of the 300mm super telephoto lens is also useful to those who wish to cover scenes which its is physically impossible to approach the subject, either due to danger involved (hazardous or scientific research, such as Rocket launching or nature study etc..) or there is something in between such as water or crowds etc. The lens is a formidable, weapon for shooting fast action sports, wildlife, scientific research, journalism or simply capturing the private mood in leisure photography.

Zoom lenses

One of the main advantage of zoom lenses is its ability to let you crop your shots in the camera's viewfinder. With their instantly variable focal lengths, zoom lenses are extremely flexible. Action-packed scenes and agile movements of wildlife, stationary photography such as portraits or still life, can all be photographed with a just a single high performance zoom yet may still produce crisps, sharp images with high resolution and utmost contrast. The varying angles of view permit different perspective on the subject and flexible framing, and also eliminate unnecessary footwork by moving forth and back. General perception and photographers' overwhelming response to all those well advertised high performance zoom lenses had influenced manufacturers' attention. Such convenience found in a zoom lenses contributes to its popularity which has soared over the years. It was a natural market trend where development trending towards demand and most of the research development effort by manufacturers was focused into development of even more exotic and high power zoom ratio lenses.

Today, zoom lenses with such 'high end' specification such as amazing zoom ratio* of 17-35mm, 28-300mm, 35-350mm or 80-400mm etc. is not uncommon. The extensive use of rare earth glass like ultra-low, extra-low or super-low dispersion, or even artificial fluorite, fluorite calcium optical glass which has special high refractive Index, low dispersion optical properties, couples with special molded or grinned aspherical elements, have all contributed toward superior optical performance. There were five original Minolta AF zoom lenses to choose from from the early days and they all feature macro focusing for one-quarter life-size magnifications. In macro focusing, manual focusing with focus signal is required.

OFF TOPIC SUPPLEMENT: * "Zoom ratio" is the maximum focal length divided by the minimum focal length. The larger this value, the greater the zoom range. A 35-105mm, has a three-to-one zoom ratio. Ratio as high as three-to-one or even slightly more are common. Generally, zoom lenses of higher zoom ratio (up to 10-12X) demands great deal of effort to maintain acceptable optical quality and usually that is where some of the finest in optical design comes in with clever use of rare earth glass or technical advancement in glass manufacturing process in order to achieve a respectably high optical performance. Basically, computers have automated such complex calculation and designing of any zoom lens; a task that was unimaginable in those early days. This has rendered zoom lenses viable to manufacture commercially in a large scale.

One of the factor that contributing to its immensely popularity is, most would also agreed that the most appealing factor of zoom lenses is its ability to substitute many of prime lenses by just one single lens which also interprets as more cost effective to invest in a zoom lens. Further, the all-in-one element greatly enhance mobility and the needs to travel light from place to place. Secondly, one should be more responsive to changes in events or happenings as there is no necessity to physically change lenses of different focal length. Well, however, even the most hard-core supporter of zoom lenses would agreed to the fact that the weakest link in any zoom lenses is at its maximum aperture which usual stays slow as compared with prime lenses. But things are changing for the better and the difference is closing with some of the camera manufacturers and third party lens makers already started introducing high speed zoom lenses. Currently, high speed long tele-zoom lenses is still too bulky for comfort to travel and for quick handling and the market is flooded with medium variable apertures zoom lenses with zoom ratio of around 3 to 5 times. Naturally, with additional lens elements used in its optical design, a zoom lens should weighs more than most of the fixed focal length lenses singularly. Whatever it is, zoom lenses are here to stay, well appeal to many photographers' needs and below are the listing of the original batch of 5 Minolta AF zoom lenses. However, as I don't own any of these optic and it is hard to comment their respective optical performance other than outlining their basic essential lens data:

lens28-85mm.jpg (10k) Loading ...
AF 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5
Construction: 13 elements in 10 groups
Angle of view: 75
°-29°
Minimum focus (macro): 0.8m (0.25m)
Maximum magnification: 0.25X
Minimum f-stop: f/22-27
Dimensions: 68.5 x 85.5mm
Weight: 490 g

lens28-105mm.jpg (10k) Loading ...
AF 28-135mm f/4-4.5
Construction: 16 elements in 13 groups
Angle of view: 75
°-18°
Minimum focus (macro): 1.5m (0.25m)
Maximum magnification: 0.25X
Minimum f-stop: f/22-27
Dimensions: 75 x 109mm
Weight: 770 g

lens35-70mm.jpg (9k) Loading ...
AF 35-70mm f/4
Construction: 6 elements in 6 groups
Angle of view: 63
°-34°
Minimum focus (macro): 1 m (0.32m)
Maximum magnification 0.25X
Minimum f-stop: f/22
Dimensions: 68 x 52mm
Weight 285 g


lens35-105mm.jpg (11k) Loading ...
AF 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5
Construction: 14 elements in 12 groups
Angle of view: 63
°-23°
Minimum focus (macro): 1.5m (0.41 m)
Maximum magnification: 0.25X
Minimum f-stop: f/22
Dimensions: 68.5 x 87mm
Weight: 495 g


lens70210mm.jpg (12k) Loading ...
AF 70-210mm f/4
Construction: 12 elements in 9 groups
Angle of view: 34
°-12°
Minimum focus (macro): 1.1 m (1. 1 m)
Maximum magnification: 0.256X
Minimum f-stop: f/32
Dimensions: 72.5 x 152mm
Weight: 695 g



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Credit: Mr Aaron Oh, for lending his old Maxxum 7000 brochure to prepare certain content appeared in this site; LEONID.SL<leonid.sl@prodigy.net> for his great image of the Maxxum 9000; Johannes Huntjens <yawngie@msn.com>, LT Jack B. Nunley <jnunley@insightbb.com> and "Jarret LaMark" <jlamark@wbhunt.com> huntsphotoandvideo.com for their generosity for granting permission to use some of the Maxxum 7000 images appeared in this site; Lapapl@aol.com for his image of the Minolta Maxxum 7000 AF Body / Program Back 70;"Camera Works" <cameraworks@qwest.net> for some superb view of the camera; Dan Dorsey <Fotowv123@cs.com> for his shots of the 7000 Body w/ Org. Box & Manual; "Rehmat Iqbal" <mimifour@hotmail.com><srafiq@houston.rr.com> for being so considerate and helpful. Certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets, Instruction Manual(s) & brochures published by Minolta and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their work for educational purposes. The creator of the site will not be responsible for may discrepancies arise from such dispute except rectifying them after verification. "Minolta", "Rokkor", "X-700", "Dynax" & "Maxxum" are registered trade names of Minolta Optical Inc., Japan. A site dedicated to all Minolta fans worldwide. Site made with an Apple IMac.