Monday, January 28, 2008

Minolta 50mm f/1.7 Lens on Sony Alpha A700 Body: Harsh Conditions Review

I am currently shooting with the Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 body (firmware version 3) with the VG-C70AM vertical grip. I purchased a used Minolta 50mm f/1.7 AF lens from a local pawn broker after first testing it, and talking him down. This prime lens has the "old Minolta" style grip. "50mm has an apparent focal length of 100mm on this 1.5x crop body, f/1.7 is a nice wide aperture but it's not as fast as so and so, and blah, blah, blah. Get over yourselves, people. The thing cost me fifteen bucks. So let's get on with the show.

I have recently subjected this kit to some particularly tricky lighting and focusing conditions, and I would like to report on it. Instead of creating a fleshed-out blog post, I wrote the intro paragraph, the sentence before this one, and then everything below here: starting at the bottom and writing upwards. It was an interesting experience but I guess I need to go start on that Andy Warhol Project for school. Then maybe I'll come back and fill in some of the holes. There is much to discuss.

Focusing Ability
Used no flash
Center sharpness
Edges not sharp
NOT SHARP at f/1.7, f/2.2, f/2.5, or f/2.8 at many distances.
Lens Flare

Lens Hood

The manufacturer included one too many or one too few pieces of plastic on this lens. The lens hood is basically trash, but it's built in and you can't really get it out easily. It can do one thing very well: piss you off.

Kit Balance


800 shots in 1 hour, depleted ~50% of battery #1. This is 5th battery power cycle.

Thermal Concerns

I regularly subject this kit to harsh cold temperatures outdoors and subsequently bringing it into a warm indoors. I can tell that condensation appears on the innards of the lens. I cannot think this is too healthy for the sensor but no problems so far.

Memory Card

Shooting with 4 GB 133x Transcend Compact Flash card.

While going about some fast-paced shooting I only noticed the camera/memory card slow down one or two times. This was while doing 3-in-1 drive modes such as white balance bracketing or dynamic range bracketing. Got to remember every time you make an exposure with those, it's recording three full-sized files instead of one. After trying out a few of these (with results) I quickly went back to continuous and/or continuous bracking for the sake of speed and storage.

Interface Personal Note

Regarding a custom adjustment of the camera color scheme.

Those who know me know that I am a bit of an orange freak. You won't like what I'm about to say if you're one of those crazed, old-timey Minolta freaks or Sony fans bois. Believe it or not, I took an orange-colored Sharpie marker and colored over the white "AF Lens / 50" and "Minolta [logo]" on the lens barrel. This semi-matches the color of the lens alignment bump and adjacent orange lens mount detail. Plus there's the shiny alpha symbol too. Right, so I markered my lens.

And then I looked at the back of the camera, the air still rank with sharpie. Blue buttons = playback mode. I know it; locked in. The entire QuickNavi menu/setting system has items highlighted with orange. The button to activate QuickNavi? Fn. Function. With white print. No, no. So as quickly as I could, I filled in the white Fn with orange. Yes. Color coded; locked in.

Hey, what if I wanted to change the on-screen menu system "skin" to more white (or gray or blue) instead of orange?

TO DO: Make Andy Warhol Blog

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