This was, for me, a step up from the zoom lenses I had been using by Minolta and Sigma (see my review of the Sigma 28-80mm for Minolta) inasmuch as there was an extra 55mm of zoom - all those extra possibilities!
Recommend this product?
I describe this is as an 'in between' lens because I suppose what I've really got my eyes on are the new super zooms going from 28-300mm. Maybe I'll wait until my birthday.
This lens was bought as part of a package for someone else and I sacrificed my existing silver colored Minolta 28-80mm lens (Minolta AF 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 II Zoom Lens (Silver)"), which I was happy to do because it didn't have a separate macro facility - unlike the older model that I also possess and am very happy with. This means that I can't be accurate about the price it cost but probably around $100 + the cost of the 28-80mm.
What I like most about this lens is twofold:
1. The range of the zoom - 28mm lets you get wide enough for most landscape work, whereas the 135mm end is good for both portraits and for some long distance work. I've used it at games of cricket with good effect even though at f/5.6 it's not a particularly 'fast' lens. It's easy to get over that though with some fast film. On medium bright days 400 asa is perfectly good enough at all zoom lengths. Thus, this is a very good lens to travel with, rather than schlepping around with a bunch of (no doubt very good, but somewhat bulky) prime lenses.
2. The macro is what does it for me though. As with the 28-80, there is a little macro switch that you flick at the top end of the zoom, which lets you get in nice and close. As with the 28-80mm it's also a 1:2 macro - so half actual size. One day I'll get a true macro but in the meantime this lens' performance at the macro end is fab - clear and crisp images, good, quick autofocus. As with the 28-80 though, it takes some getting used to getting out of macro mode - you have to basically focus on infinity to be able to switch the switch back to 'normal' mode.
I have found the barrel movement to be smooth and easy, but not so loose that it slips down when you have to shoot facing the ground - gravity may suck, but it doesn't suck hard enough for this lens.
I also like the fact that this also has a metal mount. It makes it feel more substantial in its use although it really is not a particularly heavy lens when compared to equivalent Minolta lenses.
My experience with Sigma has (touch wood) been pretty good and this confirms that view. I rate them highly although I am vaguely suspicious that they won't last as well as the actual Minolta lenses have demonstrated that they do. Sigmas are more cheaply made but that means that they are, doh, cheaper to buy, which can only be a good thing for aspiring photographers!
The thread size on this puppy is 62mm. A little excessive maybe, considering how slow a lens this is - and I assume that this is one of the ways that costs are cut. That said, my Minolta 24-85mm also has a 62mm thread, so they can share my Cokin adapter rings and my blue indoor photography filter...