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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 3:07 pm 
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I hope I’ve not missed the answer to the question which follows but so far I’ve not found it.

I am interested in the Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 and I’ve studied Gordon’s review. One aspect that attracts me is that Jessops tell me that my existing Minolta lenses bought for a Minolta autofocus film camera will work with it. My Minolta AF lenses are about 20 years old but they’ve were only lightly used while I was working. Now I’ve retired I can see myself getting a lot more use out of them.

My question is whether it make sense to use old lenses with a new and expensive digital camera? Has there been much technological development over this period which would mean I’d be wasting the capacity of the A900? Would it be better to buy a cheaper camera and get new lenses?

I suppose this is one of those ‘how long is a piece of string’ questions. I imagine there are all sorts of pros and cons but any advice would be most welcome.

The old lenses I have are:

Minolta AF 24—50
Minolta AF 50 Macro
Minolta AF 50 (which came with the camera)
Vivitar (licensed by Minolta) AF 28—200


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 3:17 pm 
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Unless they were very expensive (i.e. thousands of $$$) to begin with, I don't think it's wise to use them with the Sony A900. You won't be getting the most out of the camera and it would be a real waste of money.

Digital camera sensors are highly demanding, and since viewing images at 100% is so easy to do (with film you had to use loupes) you are going to be quite disappointed with the results you get.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 4:42 pm 
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I don't think it is as bad as pgtips might make it sound. There are great lenses, there are bad lenses regardless of when they were made. While the A900 has a high total pixel count, due to the bigger sensor size it has a comparatively low pixel density so would be a bit more forgiving on sharpness than if you went for a lower range body.

When it comes to things like this, I often use the Alpha mount lens database on Dyxum as a starting point, which contains user ratings for lenses.

The 24-50 and both 50mm lenses comes out well rated, all above 4 on a 5 point scale (some variations depending on specific model).

The Vivitar 28-200 does less well but still reasonably, but that's not too much of a concern as longer zooms don't tend to do as well.

One note of caution is that most user reviews will probably be using the lenses with a crop sensor body, making more of the lens' middle sweet spot. So border performance may be less good.

Look at it another way, what are the modern equivalents like? The exact version of the 50mm lens isn't stated, but if you take the f/1.4 as an example the Sony version is little more than the Minolta lens in a restyled body. Pretty much the same on the macro versions.

I guess the new questions are do you really need/want an A900 (or closely related A850)? What about the other models in the Sony range? Note they do have a smaller sensor so the field of view of the lenses will be different (smaller) in that case.

Alternatively if you don't use the film camera any more, sell the lot and start again with a clean sheet. Then anything goes - also opening up other brands.

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3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 10:17 am 
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I don't believe the whole "old lenses do not get the most out of your sensor" story.
Everybody knows there are good, bad or mediocre lenses. But a good lens on a film camera is still a good lens on a digital camera. And I think you won't be disappointed if you use your old minolta lenses on a A900. The quality of the pictures will be equal to the old film cameras, but don't expect to get better pictures when you shoot digital. So if you made gret looking pictures before, using film. Go ahead and use them on the A900, they will still make great looking pictures.

What a lot of people forget is that digital still not has the high resolution that film has. I once read a story on the internet, where they calculated that, to get the same detail as a good film (velvia). You would need a 180MP FF sensor. So it's not the lenses that are to old, its the sensor that is just letting down in the resolution department.

cheers

ps. did a quick search. this is the story I meant:
http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/film-resolution.htm


Last edited by HoodedOne on Sat Oct 03, 2009 11:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 10:48 am 
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It's a debate for another thread perhaps, but most sources now say that digital has passed film resolution compared like for like. By that I mean considering colour only and same size detecting area. The most generous equivalent MP count I've seen is a certain Rockwell fellow saying 25MP for FF, with most other places stating lower figures. Digital APS-C would have beaten film even earlier.

Even then, that's still a little missing the point. Every pixel doesn't have to be perfect. You're looking for good enough quality from the lens, and chances are they still will be.

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Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
Tinies: Sony HX9V.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:31 pm 
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Keep in mind too that most things Ken Rockwell says has to be taken with a healthy dose of scepticism.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:51 pm 
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Since old Minolta lenses were originally used and designed on FF bodies, they would be good to use on A900. Especially 50mm/2.8 macro, which gives excellent results on my A200, would perform even better on A900.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 1:41 pm 
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Thank you all very much. Most interesting insights. The majority view seems to be that the old + new combination would work pretty well. In one way I like the idea of selling the old and starting again but, on reflection, I am overwhelmed by the choice out there and the vast number of pros and cons for each! Thanks again!


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 1:46 pm 
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Hello honandal, and welcome to the friendly Camera Labs forum!
To enjoy your stay here please have a look at the house-rules!
As you see, you can get lots of fast qualified answers here in the forum.
Let me add my two-cents: There is no reason to believe that the old lenses will suddenly disappoint you! I have tried my old Olympus SLR lenses after 20 years and they worked like charm. So my advice: Don'T hesitate to get a full-frame Sony (could save some money from getting the A850) and get acquainted back with your old lenses.
After that you find out
- how satisfied you are with them
- what the weakest link is that makes the most sense to be replaced

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 7:02 pm 
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I can personally vouch for the 24-50 f/4, I have that one and I love it. I've used it on film bodies and the performance is great even on borders, it also provides uniquely great distortion control - which is probably largely due to the very small range. No-less, its still a good wide and standard angle, particularly for a full frame. Good for portraiture but the range makes it a little less than ideal for that, you'll frequently want that 50-70 range when shooting portraits. It is an ideal lens and range for landscapes though.

I can't imagine any reason why the Macro would be a bad idea either - not a lot has changed with 50mm macros in the last year. Is this the f/2.8 macro or the 3.5?

If its the 50mm f/1.7 you got with it - it will also be a great option to pair with an A900, however it has very soft borders even one stop down, which is even fairly noticable on crop sensors. On the full frame, the 50mm f/1.4 will have better border performance and more diverse usability.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:08 pm 
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pgtips wrote:
Unless they were very expensive (i.e. thousands of $$$) to begin with, I don't think it's wise to use them with the Sony A900. You won't be getting the most out of the camera and it would be a real waste of money.

Digital camera sensors are highly demanding, and since viewing images at 100% is so easy to do (with film you had to use loupes) you are going to be quite disappointed with the results you get.


GASP* Are you suggesting film lenses don't work well on dSLRS?
I would go ahead an use them. After trying out a Tamron Adaptall 300mm f/2.8 and shooting with it, I am absolutely jealous. There are a lot of good film lenses out there still, namely the Pentax 31mm and 77mm lenses. Heck, I am still using the FA-100mm, 35mm f/2, and 50mm f/2, all film lenses. (of course, there is a higher "crap to good" ratio for film lenses since CAD was not available til near the digital age...)

Film lenses were basically getting pictures on "full frame" film? It should work exactly the same on digital.

And I think all your lenses should be able to work... Why not just put it on your camera and test it?

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:16 pm 
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Yep, I think you'll be fine using your old Minolta's (until gear lust kicks in and you end up getting the CZ135 for no justifiable reason :lol: )

I found this some time ago and it may lay your fears at rest.

http://artaphot.ch/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=134&Itemid=43

Also, check out Dyxum.com as well, lots of good reviews with lenses on the A900.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2009 7:56 pm 
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Minolta glass works just fine on my A900,belive me you will not be disapointed with this combo

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:20 am 
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I've found the only way of knowing if a particular lens is any good is to test it...there's far too much variation, even within one brand....including Minolta!!
I dug up an old free lens test chart from a magazine, about 25 years old, I think, and it's the best thing I've ever done. Having had EOS 350D, Sony A100, and now A350 cameras, I've tested just about every lens I've got hold of, and results can be startling!
Best so far is an old Minolta 50/1.4...with a scratch on the back!!!...BUT... when I say "best", that's only at f5.6 and smaller. The 50/1.7 I had a while ago was better at wider apertures.
Next example is two 28/2.8 minolta lenses. One was excellent, the other not great...but a crack on the front plastic plate may be an indication why!! Oddly though, was the difference: reduced resolution at most apertures, but also a considerable difference in CAs. Wierd!
.....And the kit lens?? ....Not too bad, but don't stop down beyond f8 or so.....!
Recomended zoom: 28-75/2.8 Minolta....Superb! ALMOST AS GOOD AS THE FIXED 50mm and 28mm[and BETTER than the rougher 28mm]
.... So.... MAKE YOURSELF A TEST CHART...just get high quality magazine pages, fix a few FLAT onto a wall, and for each lens, use BOUNCED FLASH off the ceilling at various apertures. Try and frame every shot indentically, so move forward and backwards for different focal lengths to fill the frame the same way every time. MAKE SURE YOU FOCUS ON THE SAME CENTRE POINT, WHICH SHOULD BE AT THE HEIGHT OF THE LENS AS YOU LOOK THROUGH IT. And finally, SHOOT RAW[and jpeg], otherwise you won't see what's possible with CA corrections in RAW converters!![and it might surprise you.
It's not an ideal set-up, of course. You'd be shooting at a rather close distance, when many lenses are designed to perform better at much longer ranges, but it's a start. The main thing to remember is to make sure any comparisons are shot with identical conditions.
ANd it's fun to do... and Will turn out interesting results!


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 5:51 pm 
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Hello Raz of Bexley, and welcome to the friendly Camera Labs forum!
To enjoy your stay here please have a look at the house-rules!
----
Good advice. And thanks for the feedback with your findings.
Just need to add that you have to shoot absolutely perpendicular to the test-chart. Otherwise some corners will be off.

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