I’ve forced myself to shoot exclusively with the Minolta 200mm f/2.8 High Speed APO G lens this year and I haven’t been able to get enough sunny days to really allow the lens to do what it does.
Today, it was sunny so I took my dog out to see if I could walk and chew gum at the same time… or throw a frisbee and then try to shoot the dog trying to catch it. I found it to be very difficult. I managed to get one shot of the frisbee in the air and the dog in the frame.
SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/5, ISO 100, 1/500s
Then I drove around and found this subject.
SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/4, ISO 160, 1/250s
And when I got home, this little one was having lunch out my back window. I cropped the shot down a bit.
SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/5.6, ISO 800, 1/80s
I am pretty happy with my purchase so far. I’ve noticed a couple of things about the lens. First of all, it has a very heavy vignette at f/2.8 and it is present through f/4. The built-in lens hood doesn’t hurt or help the vignette. It is fixable post-processing, but I’d rather shoot with the knowledge the vignette is present and frame accordingly. At f/2.8 the lens is very good and at f/4 and above the lens is spectacular. As you can tell from the backgrounds from the shots above, the bokeh is very nice. The lens acquires just a hair slower than the 70-300 G did, but definitely faster than the 85mm f/1.4 ZA does and I have been able to use the AF Range functionality successfully with the lens to get faster acquisition. I’d be thrilled if a future firmware update allowed AF-D on the lens, but I am not holding my breath. Finally, this lens suffers from Chromatic Aberration wide open and to f/4 in high contrast situations. I am OK with CA as long as Lightroom can fix it.
I have a feeling there’s more to this lens than meets the eye… I just haven’t found it’s true purpose quite yet.