Old Lenses (15-20 years) vs. New, for Sony A550

Started Apr 14, 2010 | Discussions thread
cplunk
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Re: Old Lenses (15-20 years) vs. New, for Sony A550
In reply to MarkCutler2, Aug 4, 2012

MarkCutler2 wrote:

I have ordered a Sony Alpha 550 (body only) that I should have early next week. I have several lenses that I have had since my Minolta film camera days:

Maxxum AF Zoom XI 100-300 mm 4.5-5.6
Maxxum AF Zoom XI 28-105 mm 3.5-4.5
Maxxum AF Reflex 500 mm f8
Maxxum AF 50 mm f1.7

These must date back to the mid-1990s

I often read about the great strides that have been made over the years in lens design. I know there are better lenses available - pro quality - but way too expensive for me to justify. But are the less-expensive Sony lenses of comparable focal lengths significantly better than what I have, just because they are newer?

A lot of the differences are going to be PF and flair, both are much better controlled with modern lens coatings. Using a hood on the older lenses will help this a lot, if it even is an issue with your use.

I have all but the 100-300, and they are all good lenses, At least comparable with modern equivalents. The 28-105 is one of the best of the XI power zooms, some places claim it's incompatible with non XI bodies but you only loosing some crazy functionality that I barely understand, and obviously very few people liked that it was never maintained on newer bodies. My big grief with the lens is no MF ring (but I think the zoom switch will do that in MZ mode, but mine has a busted motor). I 'replaced' it (i.e. still have it but never use it) with the Minolta 28-105mm RS that I've been told is basically the same optical design, without the powerzoom mechanics, it is my main walk around lens.

Sony continued to sell the 500mm for a while, but discontinued it only several years ago. There is simply no equivalent to this lens, even if you can find another mirror lens of comparable quality (most are pretty cheap) none of them autofocus. Newer 500mm glass lenses would probably be much higher quality, but also cost a fortune (Sony 500 f4 is something like $12k or more) and heavy, you aren't going to hand hold any of them.

And the 50mm f1.7 is, IMHO, just as good as the 50mm f1.8. The 'RS' 50mm f1.4 counterpart to this lens, apparently with some updated coating, is apparently the design still used by Sony for there 50mm f1.4.

There are no doubt better lenses out there, most of them newer designs, but they are going to be higher end lenses. The Sony 70-300 SSM for instance, or the Tamron 70-300 SP USD, or the Sigma 100-300 f4, Tamron being the cheapest at about $500. The 50mm f1.7 could be upgrade to a 50mm f1.4. The 28-105, there's a Sony 16-105mm, and a couple other options, none are inexpensive. Trying to replace these with entry level budget lenses that are newer designs is probably a terrible waste of money and possibly going to get inferior quality.

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