Sony A7r and Minolta lenses

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New(ish) readers might think that the posts on this blog are somewhat unpredictable. First I write two posts about how I don't think m4/3 can be a professional system for me and how m4/3 cameras and lenses are too expensive and the system is 'doomed'. Then I write a post saying it can be and it isn't. I'm pre-ordering a Nikon D3300, then I'm not. I criticise mirrorless cameras (and owners) and 'praise' DSLR's but I don't actually own one. And I also make disparaging comments about Minolta lenses and then I buy some. 

Well for those of you who understand what this blog is all about I don't need to explain. For those who haven't worked it out yet, patience is a virtue and try thinking about what I'm not saying rather than what I am. Oblique? yes. Pretentious? probably. But consider the term 'Devils advocate'. 

And now back to the plot.

I bought 4 Minolta lenses from ebay and a second hand dealer the other day.

50mm f/1.7. Excellent lens. But then if you can't make a good one of these there isn't much hope really.

70-210mm. Going back as it 'sticks' and doesn't zoom past 150mm.

35-70mm. Plastic mount. Some vignetting. Surprisingly sharp. Cost me £18 plus postage.

24-105mm. Very decent lens with a really useful zoom range.

Total cost - Just over £200.

Reason for purchase - It was so nice to go out with an AF lens after buying the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 and I thought I'd try a few of these cheap as chips Minoltas with the LA-EA4 adapter to see if they could fill the huge gaps in the Sony FE lens range. 

So have I changed my mind about Minolta SLR lenses? 

Well they all exhibit what I might describe as the Minolta Sony a-mount trademarks.
Sharp in the centre, no so much at the edges.
Some vignetting on the zooms.
Lots of CA and fringing.
Terrible bokeh.

However all mostly fixable and / or not an issue for how I'm going to use them.

So how do they perform? The ones that work properly that is.

50mm - Really good. Excellent across the frame. Best lens of all of them.
35-70mm. Haven't used it much. Intending to test it today. However despite the vignetting it does seem pretty sharp in the centre. 
24-105mm. Liked it a lot. Used it extensively yesterday. Results look better than the FE 28-70mm, but today the weather is supposed to be terrible so I'm going to be doing a four-way lens comparison. These two Minolta zooms, the Sigma and the native Sony.

All the Minoltas are a bit noisy and 'creaky' with the adapter. But the AF is a decent speed and they all work well. Not as smooth and quiet when focusing as the Sigma 35mm, but the fact that they do it and have full communication with the camera is testament to just how useful this adapter is.

And yes I'm sure these old Minoltas can do a great job. As general purpose lenses used mainly at their 'sweet' apertures, they are really rather good. So good in fact that I'm probably going to be selling my Nikon primes. 'What!!!' I hear you say. 'Aren't those your favourite lenses?' Well yes they are (were), but having AF and zoom lenses in particular is quicker, easier, more preferable and useful for the style and content of what I shoot. Plus these S/H Minoltas are relatively small and light and of course inexpensive. The 50mm is top class and the 24-105mm is such a perfect zoom range for what I do. Plus I'm still keeping my Voigtlander 20mm and I'm afraid the 28mm and 50mm Nikons have been replaced in my affections by the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 lens which is fast, even allowing for the adapters light loss, seriously good at all apertures and the best lens I've ever owned. Plus of course it gives me autofocus.

So, I'm finally getting some decent versatile lens options for my Sony's. I must admit the adapter was a great purchase and it's opened up all sorts of possibilities. And if any of you have experience of these old Minolta lenses then please feel free to make some recommendations. 

Some notes on the pictures in the album.

Went down to Worcester. I was intending to walk along the river, but as you can see from a couple of the pictures, that's somewhat wider than normal due to the intense rain we've been having lately. Not here, but further up stream and this weekend the UK rivers are supposed to be at their highest. So a long detour via the city centre. Great winter light but cold though not as windy as recent days, so not quite so chilling. 

As before, I'm still blown away by the A7r images on my screen. The colour, the dynamic range and the resolution are just crazy good. I used the 24-105mm and the 50mm and while the results didn't reach the heights of the Sigma 35mm I was really pleased with what I got. 

And on the gear front I would really like to go out with my Fuji's and the GH3 is looking longingly at me, but knowing what I'm going to get with the Sonys it's really hard to consider anything else at the moment. 

So stay tuned for the big four-way lens test. And if that goes well I'm definitely up for a trip with the A7r, battery grip, AF adapter and an £18 years old Minolta 35-70mm fronting the whole lot. Should be fun.



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