Brass tacks, how bad are the 70,75,80-200,210 zooms from Minolta : LUSENET : Leica Photography : One Thread

There seems to be much debate about the quality of these lenses. One camp says they are nothing but re-badged minoltas and not worth the money. Another camp says they were extensively re-worked and were run through leica quality control and while not up the perfomance of the latest 80-200 f4, are not bad lenses at all and quite a bit better than the minoltas they were based on. Well who's right? Loaded question I know, but has anyone actually shot these lenses against the minolta versions and the newest leica lens? If so, what did you see?

My hunch is that the leicas are going to be better (how much is debateable) than the minoltas and that a batch of leicas will be consistantly better than a batch of minloltas. I also think the new zoom will be the best, but don't know how much better. Are the older zooms within 10%, 15%, 20% of the perfomrance of the new lens? If I could, I'd do the test myself but don't have acces to the lenses. Has anyone done this?

It also occurs to me that Jeff Spirer (and others) would say shoot what you have or buy what you can afford, stop quibbling, and shoot with that. In fact, just shoot!

-- Mark (, January 24, 2002


I have shot with the 75-200 (briefly, 1 roll, lens borrowed from store), owned 70-210 and (current)80-200. The $400-500 you pay for the 75-200 (and the even earlier 80-200/4.5)is not a good value. For half that you could buy the Minolta version and a body (perhaps even one on which the R3 or R4 were based) to fix it permanently to. Performance is exactly what you'd expect from a top-quality consumer- level Japanese-made zoomlens from the late 70's. The 70-210 looks more like a Leica lens (physical appearance)and performs better than the earlier ones, but again you're talking 80's Minolta technology in zoom design. You won't get even performance across the focal range, nor the kind of sharpness and contrast at wide apertures that Leica lenses are known to give. In addition if you use a polarizer, be aware that these lenses are push-pull and have a built-in shade which is pushed out when the zoom slide is advanced. To retract the shade to adjust the polarizer means pulling back the zoom slide. Very inconvenient to say the least and using a screw-on hood doesn't help because then you can't advance the slide at all.

There is no such thing as a free lunch, but in Leica terms the 80- 200/4 comes closest. It's performance is startlingly close to the much heavier, much costlier 70-180/2.8 APO, and can be shot wide open at all focal lengths with complete confidence. It is a 2-ring zoom, very nicely made. My only gripe is the lack of a tripod collar which I believe a lens of its length and speed should have, even if it's a removable one.

-- Jay (, January 24, 2002.

My only gripe is the lack of a tripod collar which I believe a lens of its length and speed should have, even if it's a removable one

Jay, have you tried the STA-1? I've read that with a small modification it can be used with the 80-200 f/4.0.

-- Douglas Herr (, January 24, 2002.

I'd like to know what the small modification to the STA1 is. It might be removal of the red mounting index bump on the lens. Or it might be careful slicing of the STA1 collar. I'm not sure. But I sure would like to use the STA1 unhindered with the 80-200/4.

-- Ken Shipman (, January 24, 2002.

Here's an example showing the middle version (75-200 f/4.5) compared with some contemporary (c. 1980 +-) Leica primes.


By comparison the present 80-200 f/4 will be slightly better than even the 180-APO 3.4 at f/4 (based on non-comparison shots and MTF charts). Just wish I could find a version that fits an SL. 8^(

-- Andy Piper (, January 24, 2002.

Here's a link to the STA-1 info:

-- Douglas Herr (, January 24, 2002.

Is the STA still in production?

-- Jay (, January 24, 2002.

Thanks Douglas. The link is in reference to using the STA1 on the 100 macro, but the point pretty much holds true for the 80-200/4 too.

Yes, Jay. B&H shows the STA1 available on special order for $98. Do a search on "STA1" and it'll pop up.

-- Ken Shipman (, January 24, 2002.

I'd have to say that worked out pretty well. I cut two small semicircle slots into the STA1 rim to allow for the lens red index bump. One slot at the 1:30 position and the other at the 10:30 position APPROXIMATELY - you need to measure and mark to be exact.

I used a small triangular needle file to mark the exact position, then a small round needle file to form a neat slot with the clearance for the red index dot.

BONUS: the STA1 does NOT have click stops. You have to take time to align the collar with the lens index marks. Now with the new slots I have a couple of easy alignment slots - next best thing to real click stops.

DOUBLE BONUS: since all R lenses have the red index dot in the same place, the STA1 now works even better with the 100 macro and 180 APO.

-- Ken Shipman (, January 24, 2002.

I purchased a used 75-200mm Leica zoom in 1986. I was satisfied with the lens performance, but had always read/heard that the lens was a Leitz-Minolta compromise; whatever. About 7 years ago, I purchased a late 180/2.8 and performed some tests projected and louped against the zoom. I saw little difference, and returned the 180 lens. About a year later while in contact with some Leica technical reps, I discovered that this individual also used the 75-200mm zoom. I was impressed and surprised. I guess the kicker was when at about the same timeframe, I was speaking with Jim Lager, the well known and respected Leica expert, he told me that he ALSO uses this lens. At that point I decided to stick with the lens until it was no longer useable or fixable. Now I suppose that the new 80-200 zoom is a better lens, but I also suppose that it isn't 4 times better even though it costs 4 times as much the older zoom. Most people will not see or appreciate the differences except under the most extreme and, generally impractical, enlargement sizes. I'd recommend purchasing the 75-200mm lens if you can get one affordably.

-- Joe Barbano (, January 30, 2002.

Mark for what its worth Ive been using a Leitz Wetzlar 75-200 f4.5 on my Leica RE for about a year. I purchased it in mint condition for 400.00 and felt it has been one of the better buys Ive managed in my photo gear acquisitions. Its compact, light, uses 55mm filters, and is very very sharp based on the 8x12 color prints Ive made from 400ASA film. It is sharper than the old (fat) style 250f4 Telyt that I used to use by a good margin. I admit the new 80-200 f4 is a superb lens by all accounts, Ive been tempted to trade up but even used it costs three to four times as much. I would be glad to send some JPGs to anyone who is interested, scanned negs from the 75-200 zoom. If anyone has comparison shots with the older zooms vs the new one from Kyocera I would love to see them.

-- Ron Dixon (, January 31, 2002.

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