Defects in Manual Lenses and lens buying advice

This blog is mostly about manual lenses which are usually 30 to 50 years old. And while most of them are surprisingly reliable the are a few things you should check before or after buying a lens.

This checklist is based on the experience I gained from buying  more than a hundred lenses since I discovered how much fun it is to use them on Sony’s Alpha cameras.

If you have additional info about a defect not listed or disagree with my assessment please leave a comment!

Scratches on the lenses

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a large scratch on the front lens of a AI-S Nikon 4.5/300

Use a large light source like a window and place the lens between you and the light so that you can see the colorful coating of the lens.

Scratches are seldom a problem in the real world but they lower the resale value of a lens. In theory they could reduce the contrast of a lens or cause some flare but I have never seen that happen.

You can’t really do anything to restore coatings but it sometimes makes sense to fill larger scratches with black paint to avoid light scattering.

Continue reading Defects in Manual Lenses and lens buying advice

Test: $20 Minolta MC 1.7/55 vs $1000 Zeiss 1.8/55

55erIn this comparison I want to compare two very different lenses.

The Minolta MC Rokkor-PF 55mm 1:1.7 was introduced in 1968 and it was always an affordable lens. Today it usually sells for around $20 at ebay.com (affiliate link).
I like it because it has very nice bokeh, the nice focusing feel and the small size. I is not one of my sharpest manual lenses, the Canon FD 1.4/50 for example is noticeably sharper but it has very nice character, not far away from the much heavier and more expensive Minolta MC 1.2/58.

The Sony FE 1.8/55 ZA was introduced 45 years later in 2013 and it costs around $1000 or 50 times as much as the Minolta. It has received very positive reviews and is considered to be one of the best normal lenses available today.

The question I try to answer with this test is: How different are the results I can expect from the lenses? I will look at smaller images optimized for the web but also at 100% crops to judge print quality.

All images are developed from raw and I used a tripod unless I mention otherwise. Please click on them to see them in full size (1500px wide).

Scene 1: Bokeh and Sharpness in the center wide open

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The same settings applied to the image taken with the Minolta 1.7/55

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Continue reading Test: $20 Minolta MC 1.7/55 vs $1000 Zeiss 1.8/55

Minolta MD Zoom 35-70mm 1: 3.5 – Review

MD3570

The Minolta MD 35-70mm 1:3.5 is a affordable zoom which offers a light weight and very good performance in a handy focal range

Specifications

Diameter 69 mm
Length 68.5 mm
Filter Thread 55mm
Weight 365g
Max. Magnification 0.1
0.25 (Macro Mode)
Close Focusing Distance from the sensor 80cm
33cm (Macro Mode)
Number of aperture blades 7
Elements/ Groups 8/7
Price (June 2015): $80-120 in good condition.
Check current prices at ebay.de or ebay.com (affiliate links).

Image Samples

winterfarben3
Sony a7 | 70mm |f/5.6
magical forest
Sony a7 | 35mm |f/11
the pond
Sony a7 | 50mm |f/8

Continue reading Minolta MD Zoom 35-70mm 1: 3.5 – Review

Minolta MD 50mm 1:2 Review

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The Minolta MD 50mm 1:2 is one of the smallest and cheapest Minolta lenses and most importantly it is also an excellent lens for landscape photography.

Specifications

Diameter 64 mm
Length 36 mm
Filter Thread 49 mm
Weight 150g
Max. Magnification 0.15
Close Focusing Distance from the sensor 45cm
Number of aperture blades 6
Elements/ Groups 6/5
Price (June 2015): $10-30 in good condition.
Check current prices at ebay.de or ebay.com (affiliate links).

Image Samples

 

the last beer
Sony Alpha 7 | Minolta MD 50mm 1:2 | f/2
Spring
Sony Alpha 7 | Minolta MD 50mm 1:2 | f/2
SonnigerMorgen
Sony Alpha 7 | Minolta MD 50mm 1:2 | f/8

Continue reading Minolta MD 50mm 1:2 Review

Canon FD 20mm 1:2.8 Review

The Canon FD 20mm 2.8 is an affordable wideangle lens (around $200 mid 2015) which performs well on the Alpha 7. I have owned and used my copy for more than a year now and wanted to share my experience with you.

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Canon FD 20mm 1:2.8 | Novoflex E-mount adapter attached

Sample Images

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Sony a7 | f/11
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Sony a7 | f/2.8
Untitled
Sony a7 | f/5.6
Rursee in Flammen
Sony a7 | f8
Lake District
Sony a7 | f/11

 Specifications

 
CANON FD 20 2.8
Length 62mm
Diameter 78mm
Weight 305g
Filter Thread 72mm
Aperture Blades 6
Short focusing distance 25cm

The Canon FD 2.8/20 at ebay.de | ebay.com (affiliate links)

Continue reading Canon FD 20mm 1:2.8 Review

My thoughts about the Sony Alpha 7r II

So Sony announced their newest flagship camera and it got a lot of hype. And after my initial enthusiasm cooled down a bit I collect my thoughts and ask myself the essential question: Would the a7rII improve my photography if I upgraded from my Alpha 7?

sony_alpha-7r-ii-_05

Image quality

The specs tell us that the camera will sport a 42MP back side illuminated (BSI) sensor.

Continue reading My thoughts about the Sony Alpha 7r II

Useful Accessory for the Sony Alpha 7: A L-Bracket

What is a L-bracket?

A L-bracket is a peace of metal which serves about three functions:

  • It makes it possible to mount the camera in portrait orientation on a tripod
  • It is a more solid connection to the camera than quick release plates because it has a much bigger area of contact to the camera.
  • It increases the size of the grip and makes holding the camera easier.
lwinkel-4
my L-bracket

For me an L-brackets has improved the everyday experience of my Sony Alpha 7 and I think too few people know about L-brackets so I want to share my experience in this post.

Continue reading Useful Accessory for the Sony Alpha 7: A L-Bracket

Old against New: Zeiss 2.8/28 vs Sony FE 2/28 vs Minolta MC 2/28

I wanted to see how my new FE 2/28 compares against my older manual lenses, so I ran a comparison between four lenses:

  • The Minolta MD 2.8/28 is very small, light and affordable
  • The Carl Zeiss Distagon 2.8/28 T* enjoys a very good reputation and it is a bit more expensive at around 250€.
  • The Minolta MC 2/28 is the oldest and fastest of the bunch, it was introduced in 1975. My copy has some fungus in it and other copies might be better.
  • The Sony FE 2/28 is brand new and the most expensive one at 450€.
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Minolta MD 2.8/28 | Zeiss 2.8/28 | Sony FE 2/28 | Minolta MC 2/28

Continue reading Old against New: Zeiss 2.8/28 vs Sony FE 2/28 vs Minolta MC 2/28