My other Lenses

Last week I discussed the Minolta Maxxum lenses I have in my collection. Since my last Minolta lens purchase I have augmented the collection to cover more situations.

After a visit to the California Academy of Science, I realized that my Minolta AF Maxxum 50mm f/1.7 was too long for indoors. I therefore purchased the Sony DT 35mm F/1.8 SAM (SAL–35F18), which was on sale, lucky for me. The lens’ center sharpness is very high, even at F/1.8, Color fringing is well controlled overall, and distortion is about average. A review pointed out:

Something to think about; you’re out taking pictures in low light with the 18–55mm F/3.5–5.6 kit lens. You’re probably going to be at F/4 or F/5.6 when zoomed out a little bit. Using the 35mm F/1.8 with a shutter speed of 1/10 at F/1.8, ISO 400, you can just hand hold the camera for sharp shots. At F/5 with the zoom, you’re forced to ramp up the ISO to 3200, which is going to be good for a small print only. Worse yet, if you started off at ISO 1600 (still relatively clean) with the 35mm, you’d be forced to use ISO 12,800 on the zoom, that would be a smeared up mess! Do yourselves a favor; save about $1200 by purchasing this lens instead of the Sony 35mm F/1.4 G lens. There is a slight advantage in light gathering power with the “G” lens, but the DT 35/1.8 is better at ghosting control, and coma wide open. I’d say there is little difference in sharpness overall, with the “DT 35/1.8” coming out ahead at apertures wider than F/2.8.

During my Project 365 work last year, I tried some macro photograph and realized that my so-called macro lenses would not let me get as close as I would like. Doing some research I found the ProMaster Spectrum 7 AF 100mm F/3.5 MC Macro lens. It gained the nickname of “Plastic Fantastic” because the plastic construction is little different to the modern Sony lenses, but does have some better then average optical qualities. The AF is slow and noisy, a inherent property of 100mm macro lens with external focusing. The supplementary lens to take it to 1:1 has also been criticized. What this does is to shorten the effective FL(focal length) thus reducing the amount of lens extension needed for 1:1 and it does seem to work with minimal effect on IQ(image quality). More importantly, by reducing the FL, it has the effect of minimizing the loss of light often associated with a macro lens on full extension. This is macro lens is also a useful 100mm lens in its own right. Its relatively simple optics guarantee good color and contrast, something that is missing from its more expensive cousins. I was lucky to get an unopened box version for $100.

While watching what Minolta lenses showed up for sale on eBay, I came across the Konica Minolta AF DT 18–70mm F/3.5–5.6. It is not consider “old Minolta Glass” since the lens was introduced in 2005, way after the mid–1990s when Minolta started using outside sources. This lens was also rebadged by Sony in 2006 as Sony DT 18–70mm (SAL1870). Why did I go after this lens when I already had the Sony DT 18–55mm F/3.5–5.6? Two reasons, the starting price was only $20 because of the lens hood having a small crack; and curiosity if that extra 15mm make this an additional walk-around lens. It seemed that the cracked lens hood stopped anyone from bidding, except me, so I ended up with the lens. It must have been my lucky day, the lens itself was in excellent condition and that small cracked was really nothing.

In comparing the two lenses, the Sony lens has a internal focus motor and therefore is a bit quieter. Since I don’t use the A65 for movies, this is not a big advantage. Optically they are both almost identical, I detected a bit of better colors with the KM. I do however like the extra focal length which helps when being limited on how many lenses to take out on a field trip.

Getting back into photography I used 2013 to figure out what genres I was leaning towards. It turned out to be landscape photography in the broad sense, not limited to nature but can also focusing on man-made features or disturbances of landscapes. One shortcoming of my lens collections was that of a true wide-angle lens. My two 18mm lenses were effectively starting at 27mm, not wide enough. After some research I decided to get the Tamron 10–24mm f/3.5–4.5 DI-II lens. The lens is labeled as a ultra-wide-angle lens for APS-C cameras. After using it during my recent trip to Germany the lens is everything that I wanted it to be: the focus is fast, the images are crisp, and the wide-angle perspective gives an experience of striking realization.

My last lens I got was an impulse buy, because the lens, Sony 55–200mm F/4–5.6 SAM (SAL–55200–2), was on clearance for $50 new – too good to pass up, especially since it is updated version with the internal SAM drive. It is an excellent complement to the Sony 18–55mm F3.5/5.6 SAM lens. Since these 2 lenses are small and light, compared to the Minolta lenses, I can use a small bag that I have always with me, covering most circumstances of impromptu photo shoots.

As to the lens itself, it is sharp, even at maximum apertures, the corners look fine about one stop down, and it has nice colors in good light. This lens has proven to be sharper than my old 70–210mm “Beercan”. The build is plastic, but a quality build however. Overall, I like this lens.

My complete lens collection is now:

  • Tamron 10–24mm f/3.5–4.5 DI-II
  • Sony DT 18–55mm F/3.5–5.6 SAM (SAL–1855)
  • Konica Minolta AF DT 18–70mm F/3.5–5.6
  • Minolta Maxxum AF 28–135mm F/4–4.5
  • Sony DT 35mm F/1.8 SAM (SAL–35F18)
  • Minolta Maxxum AF 35–70mm F/4 (Mini Beercan)
  • Minolta Maxxum AF 50mm F/1.7
  • Sony 55–200mm F/4–5.6 SAM (SAL–55200–2)
  • Minolta Maxxum AF 70–210mm F/4 (Beercan)
  • Sony 75–300mm F/4.5–5.6 (SAL–75300
  • ProMaster Spectrum 7 AF 100mm F/3.5 MC Macro)

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