This is a short review of two lenses I picked up from eBay a couple of weeks ago when I bought a Minolta X300 SLR camera, and they were bundled with it. I've named the lenses "Star D/Image Lens" in the title of this post because, although both lenses are labelled as "Image MC Automatic", I believe they are made by the same company that makes/distributes the Star D1 lenses. In physical appearance they certainly seem to be the same, are made in the same country (Korea) and I can't find any reference to the name 'Image' as a lens manufacturer on Google.
Photos of the Star D/Image lenses
Here is a quick run down of the two lenses. They are both, as I said above made in Korea, and are Minolta SR fit manual focus lenses. There is a short telephoto lens, which is 135 mm f/2.8 and a wide angle 28 mm f/2.8. Aside from the difference in length they are very similar in appearance and operation, with nice smooth focus rings and half stop aperture adjustment from f/2.8 to f/16 and then a single step to f/22. The aperture in both lenses is 6 blade and opens and closes nicely without any stickiness. I would guess the lenses date from about the mid 1980s and since I bought them with a Minolta X300 which started manufacture in 1984 that is probably accurate.
When I received them, the telephoto lens had quite a bit of dust in the internal gap between the front element section and the rear element section, but I was able to remove that simply by blowing air with a Giotto puffer in the gap which forms inside the back of the lens when it's set to it's closest focus point. The telephoto also has a couple of small marks on the back element, but I've taken some images of the sky with the lens set to f/16 and these don't seem to show at all.
The wide angle lens just needed a bit of a clean to its front element to remove some dust and grime from the front element and filter ring and otherwise seems pretty good.
Fortunately neither of the lenses had any mould or fungus, so after a bit of a clean they are both ready to go.
I took a trip to the Fairlands Valley Park in Stevenage to test the lenses on my NEX 6 using a Minolta SR to Sony NEX mount adaptor and the images I've obtained are shown below. Obviously, being an APS-C sensor camera this will only test the middle section of the lens, but that normally means full frame lenses, as these are, work better than they did on the 35 mm film frame they were designed for!
The images here are split into 4 different galleries - 2 for each lens. There is a 'jpeg from camera' and 'Processed in Lightroom' gallery for each lens and I used the 'vivid' profile to create the in camera jpegs.
28mm f/2.8 'Camera Jpeg' gallery.
28mm f/2.8 'Lightroom Processed' Images.
Looking at the two galleries above it is pretty obvious that the 28 mm lens is not much of a performer when fully open. There is significant softness and flare and the colour is pretty washed out. Once it's stopped down however it's not too bad and by the time you reach f/8 it is a pretty useable lens. When you think about the typical uses of a 28 mm (42 on APS-C) it's likely that you would probably not be looking for a great deal of bokeh and would likely use it stopped down a couple of stops, so it's probably not such a big issue. The Lightroom processed images show that it can be a capable performer.
135mm f/2.8 'Camera Jpeg' gallery
135mm f/2.8 'Lightroom Processed'
The 135 mm lens seems a more consistent performer than the 28 mm and actually produces some pretty good image quality. It doesn't need to be stopped down as much as the 28 mm for the sharpness and contrast to show, and I wouldn't mind using it as a medium telephoto lens for most occasions. In a couple of the pictures there was a bit of CA but although that would have been a problem if the lenses were being used on film it's easily corrected on digital.
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