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it's just because of the greater contrast in the branch there and vignetting. at 100% that part of the branch is pretty defocused.
I thought so. I had the same problem when I first examined that tree-branch test shot I posted.
It's not sharp wide open, and the 7's much more punishing on the lens stopped down than the a99. Still, you picked a great subject for it. When I think about this lens, the 58/1.2, the 35/2.8 MC HG, the 35/1.8 MC HH, and, from what I've seen, the 85/1.7, I'm convinced Minolta was on a mission to design lenses that were soft wide open, but pleasingly so.