Category Archives: Equipment

Minolta AF 500mm Reflex Lens

Finally got a hold of a Minolta 500mm Reflex Lens, which is a catadioptric photographic lens. This lens, and the repackaged but optically identical Sony Version (SAL–500F8), are the only production mirror lenses designed to have its focus controlled by the camera’s autofocus motor in conjunction with TTL autofocus sensing. In terms of the Minolta AF and subsequent Sony α DSLR systems, these lenses are an anomaly, being the only lenses guaranteed to auto focus at f/8.

This lens will, by default, set the focusing to spot and cannot be changed. This restriction is because of the lens design using mirrors. Since using spot focusing, one must make sure to place the spot focusing square on the subject so it focuses properly. Doing this, focusing is very good, however the depth of field is super slim up close.

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Installing Sony’s GPS Assist Data manually

Sony succeeded in making it very difficult to update the GPS Assist Data on their GPS enabled cameras using a Mac or Linux. Sony supplies a windows-only software for downloading and updating the GPS almanac on the camera. The supplied PMB Portable software runs on Apple’s OS X, but it does not support downloading the GPS almanac.

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My Other Photographic Equipment – Part 2

In last week’s Part 1 article I presented my camera support and bags gear. In this final part I will present my other equipment I use with my camera.

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My Other Photographic Equipment – Part 1

In this article I discuss the equipment I have in addition to my camera and lenses to support my photography efforts. I start with the second most important element, the tripod or other device I use to support my camera for the sharpest possible pictures.

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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:

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My Minolta Maxxum Lenses

There is no question that lenses are to many photographers more important then their camera body. A good lens, well looked after, should last decades, much longer than any digital camera body. That’s why professional photographers spend thousands on their lenses. I am not a professional photographer nor do I have thousands of dollars to spend on my photography equipment. That was one of the reasons that I selected the Sony A65 since it can be used with the older line of high quality Minolta lenses which cost much less then the current lineup of Sony digital specific lenses.

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Lens Categories

In my last two articles I talked about why Minolta Glass is still popular and which of those lenses are still popular today. Before decided which lenses to buy to add to my two kit lenses I did some research on lens catogories. There are dozens of different types of lens available, designed for use in a wide range of circumstances. The most important factor in any camera lens is its focal length. This determines which type of lens it is, and what subjects it will be able to photograph. Focal lengths range from just a few millimetres up to over a metre, and can be loosely grouped as follows:

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Minolta Lenses to look for

Updated 2016-12-30 – Added Minolta AF Maxxum 24mm f/2.8 lens

Though no longer existent, Minolta is still an important name in the world of photography. Many photographers claim that such incredible and well-built lenses are no longer manufactured. This is especially true for Minolta lenses manufactured pre-mid-1990s as they provide unrivaled color and contrast matching. This was because Minolta made all their own glass, from the mix to the coating, they did something which no other maker did at the time. They used the lens coatings to balance color and contrast, so that an entire set of lenses would need no Color Correction filters if tested critically on a single roll of film. Sadly they changed their philosophy considerably once the Malaysian plant was opened.

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What makes Minolta Lenses such a great option for Photographers

One criteria for selecting my DSLR was a good selection of lenses. To many it must have come as a surprise when the learned I selected the Sony Alpha 65 as my new camera. I bought the camera with two kit lenses, the Sony DT 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 (SAL-1855) and Sony 75-300mm F/4.5-5.6 (SAL-75300). It was a special bundle price, about $200 less then any other deal at the time that I could not refuse.

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Selecting my new camera

In my Getting back into Photography posting I outlined my research in selecting which DSLR/SLT camera to get. The main features I was after were:

  • Minimal delay to take the picture
  • P/A/S/M modes
  • Fast autofocus
  • Continuous auto-focus when taking multiple or sequential images
  • GPS Geotagging
  • Image stabilization
  • Good selection of lenses

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