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Anyone testing old Minolta - Sony lenses? Like to use some on A7

Started Dec 7, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Re: Anyone testing old Minolta - Sony lenses? Like to use some on A7
In reply to UnderDriven, Dec 7, 2013

I own these lenses and I have tested them on a m4/3 camera:

The 28mm f/2.8 MD is one of the weaker Minolta lenses. It may perform slightly better on FF, but it is not sharp on m4/3...

The 50mm f/1.4 MD does well stopped down--do not expect great results wide open (soft and lowered contrast)...

The 85mm f/2 MD is one of the best Minolta lenses. Again, not fantastic wide open but stopped down a bit it will do very well. However, it is not a cheap lens...

The 70-210 f/4 MD is okay for a zoom from 30+ years ago. I suppose it is the ancestor of the beercan, so it will do a decent job. But a modern zoom should be much better...

I enjoy using my old Minolta MF lenses--to me they feel like lenses should be: well built and very smooth focusing with long focus throws (compared to modern AF lenses). However, you have to realize that they were designed 30+ years ago. Primes were designed pretty well back then (other than extreme wide angle lenses), but zooms were very difficult without modern computerized design. Also, lens coatings are better now. The MD lenses were all multi-coated, but MC lenses may only be single-coated (I also have a 300mm f/4.5 MC single-coated and it doesn't do very well at all--not very sharp and lots of CA).

Also, consider Vivitar Series 1 lenses with Minolta mount. The primes were very well designed, especially the 55mm and 90mm macros. I have the 135mm f/2.3 close focusing lens and it does well on m4/3, but I think it would be a lot better on FF (it is a heavy lens, though). In general, these old lenses may struggle at ~42MP FF resolution (12MP m4/3 sensor equivalent), but they should perform much better at 24MP FF. However, the 85mm f/2 at f/5.6 can easily handle a 12MP m4/3 sensor...

The advantage of good modern lenses is that they should perform better wide open. Even the cheap "plastic fantastic" Sony A-mount primes do very well in terms of resolution (35mm f/1.8 DT, 50mm f/1.8 DT, and 85mm f/2.8). These lenses are probably better than their MD equivalents in terms of IQ (except, possibly, for some great lenses like the 85mm f/2), although they are inferior in terms of build quality and handling. But they do provide AF and aperture control--it is difficult to enjoy stop-down metering unless you are shooting static subjects. Unfortunately, only the 85mm f/2.8 is FF...

One thing to keep in mind if you are doing stop-down photography with legacy lenses: you should focus at the aperture you are shooting at (or close to it). Initially, in my testing I was focusing wide open and then stopping down to the desired aperture. I saw some terrible results, especially with a fast lens like the 50mm f/1.4 stopped down to f/5.6. I soon realized that stopping down affected point of focus, and I got much better results focusing at f/5.6 (anything f/4 and above seemed to be okay). Now I only focus at the aperture I am shooting at...

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“The world is going to pieces and people like Adams and Weston are photographing rocks!” --Henri Cartier-Bresson

I believe the OP was asking about Minolta AF lenses that are all A-Mount and all provide AF with LA-EA2/4 adapters and have been used on many Sony Alpha digital bodies right up to the A99 with good and sometimes excellent results.

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