Enter the Makinon 300mm f5.6. Slightly longer focal length and slightly larger but has the same f5.6 aperture as the Minolta counterpart, but at about 5% of the price. The Minolta has a 62mm filter size, while the Makinon has 67mm filter size. The old Outlet Store used to sell these lenses for around $60, but now they are going for almost $200 on eBay. Insanity! I have had a few of them over the years, but eventually got rid of them due to lack of image quality when compared to glass lenses. I bought another one this Sunday at the Camera Show in Woodbridge for $40, just because I am curious how it would compare to the Minolta.
As it turns out, there is not a whole lot of differences between the two lenses. Both of them are well made and focus smoothly and both weigh about the same. The Minolta has a glass filter built-in the front while the Makinon does not. One feature the Makinon has over the Minolta, is the close-focus capability; the Makinon has a pseudo macro magnification ratio of 1:4 and focuses much closer than the 2.5m of the Minolta. In terms of image quality, the Minolta has a very slight edge in contrast and sharpness, but not much more. Definitely not worth the outrageous price difference.
The Makinon 300mm f5.6 is a good alternative to the Minolta, if you can live with a slightly larger size (few millimeters taller and a bit wider in diameter). Definitely worth $40, but not $200, in my opinion.
Left: Makinon 300mm f5.6, Middle: Minolta RF 250mm f5.6, Right: Canon nFD 50mm f1.2
Lunch Break - Sony A7 & Makinon 300mm f5.6. Click for larger.
Red Chairs - Sony A7 & Makinon 300mm f5.6. Click for larger.
Reflections - Sony A7 & Makinon 300mm f5.6. Click for larger.
Walking out of the tunnel - Sony A7 & Makinon 300mm f5.6. Click for larger.
Tree Trunks - Sony A7 & Makinon 300mm f5.6. Click for larger.