Author Topic: Adding Sony to the mix  (Read 224 times)

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Offline Jeff Behm

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Adding Sony to the mix
« on: January 21, 2018, 09:26:47 AM »
I'm a Canon Shooter.  Have been (except for the large and medium formats of course) since the mid 90's when my then forty-ish vision went from 20/15 to presbyopia and I couldn't trust my ability to close-focus.  Canon, at that time, had surpassed Minolta as the pre-eminent auto focus system.  Until then my 35mm system was all Minolta, and they were superb.

Since the changeover, I've been tempted by Nikon because of their then-better white balance and focus accuracy.  Tempted to go to Sony because of their incredibly clean imagery and exquisite color plus superior AF.  Always I've reined in those impulses because A) Canon made great improvements in exactly the right areas, and B) the sheer volume of Canon L glass that I'd have to give up.

No longer.  I'm keeping all the Canon stuff, it's my workhorse gear, but I just bought a Sony a850 24.6MP FF DSLR camera body.  The good news is, a lot of old Minolta auto focus stuff still works with the Sony Alpha  A mount system.  Minolta, in its heyday, was one of the world's best lens makers, even providing incredible lenses for Leica.  Despite its quality, they lost market to Canon and Nikon, were purchased by Konica, and eventually Konica-Minolta was bought up by Sony.  Sony then rebranded the Minolta cameras and redesigned a lot of the Minolta lens exteriors, left the guts alone, and reissued them at prices we usually see attached to the Big Two.  However, all that old Minolta Maxxum gear is still out there at bargain prices and works as intended.  A lot of it is the equal of the priciest current gear, albeit more likely to be f4 than f2.8.  Regardless, that's how good they are.  Oh, and get this, the Sony a850/a900 have image stabilization built into the bodies! 

So, in addition to the a850, which, with the exception of a slower motor drive and a 98% viewfinder instead of 100%, is the same as the former flagship a900 (precursor to today's a99 II), I also bought these Minolta Maxxum lenses :  a 100 macro f2.8, a 35-70, a 28-105 that I found after buying the 35-70, and a 70-210 known as "the legendary beer can", a great lens.  Total expenses - body and lenses -  not including shipping, is a shade over $900.

The gear arrives starting Tuesday, the day before I start a 2 day shoot, so I may not get to play before the weekend, but you can bet I'll be back to report on this.  Donna and Theresa (Sony shooter members here) chime in!

Offline Duck

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Re: Adding Sony to the mix
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2018, 01:45:13 PM »
[...] Total expenses - body and lenses -  not including shipping, is a shade over $900.

The gear arrives starting Tuesday, the day before I start a 2 day shoot, so I may not get to play before the weekend, but you can bet I'll be back to report on this.  Donna and Theresa (Sony shooter members here) chime in!

Seriously? Let me pick my jaw up of the floor... That's an amazing savings. I'll be interested in your observations on its performance. Looking forward to seeing some images. Thanks.
My name is Charles Unitas but friends call me Duck

"If you didn't learn something new today, you wasted a day."

Offline Sam Levitan

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Re: Adding Sony to the mix
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2018, 09:01:41 AM »
Oh, Jeff, if I had a nickel for every time you've said "this is the last camera I'm ever going to buy," I'd... well, I could maybe buy a cup of coffee...

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Adding Sony to the mix
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2018, 11:18:27 AM »
Yeah, Sam, but it would be a really large, really good cup of coffee!  I just figured if I don't like it, I can sell it.  Meanwhile, I'll put a long-time question to rest. 


Offline Houston George

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Re: Adding Sony to the mix
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2018, 06:52:55 PM »
Oh no! You don't really expect decent images from 9 year old camera technology and lenses far older than that do you? (sarcasm noted)

I like hearing someone recognize that quality isn't new and isn't reserved for the latest and most expensive gear. I've become somewhat of a "picker" of old Nikon lenses. I've bought some at near giveaway prices that have optical quality equal to current glass that costs 4 digits.
Houston

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Adding Sony to the mix
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2018, 01:48:50 PM »
OK.  I'm just back from a 2 day location jewelry shoot and took a little time before my bod forces me to nap, in order to play with the Sony a850 and the Minolta 100mm macro lens.  Nothing deep, just placing a couple of ring sized objects on the product table and hitting them with a little feathered hard light.

The photo is just a screen grab from the Lightroom comparison page.  Best seen on your monitor at pretty close to the full width of the screen, at least that's so on my 27” iMac.

On the left is the Sony.  First, these were shot on the same tripod, but the Canon body sits the lens up a little higher, so its a tiny bit higher perspective.

The color balance is from using the eyedropper on the background, just to the left of the “B” in football,  focused on the “C” in Club. 

The exposure for each is ISO 100, 1/125th at f11, and should be bumped about a third to a half stop brighter.    There’s a little more warmth in the gold in the Sony, I think, as well as the blue looking deeper or something I can’t quite identify.   It also looks like the Sony focuses a little closer than the Canon, although both are 100 mm macro lenses.  Of course, the sensor on the Sony is 24.6 MP vs Canon’s 22.3 MP, so perhaps that’s what I see there.  Both are cropped slightly tighter by the exact same amount.

All in all, they’re both sharp.

Consider this the march of the unused/unwanted toys:  my old wedding band (divorced), my old Letterman’s pin (no longer playing),  a Sony a850 (no longer current) with a 35 year old Minolta lens (no longer in existence).   But hey, Houston, I like what I see here.

Offline Duck

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Re: Adding Sony to the mix
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2018, 02:16:07 PM »
Looks like you're getting a little more contrast from the Minolta lens. Overall, I'm impressed by the sharpness and quality.
My name is Charles Unitas but friends call me Duck

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Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Adding Sony to the mix
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2018, 04:48:52 PM »
Agreed Duck, and if you look at that little black dust spot to the left of the ring, it’s a little crisper in the Sony shot.  I attribute the color to the Sony sensor, the contrast to the quality of Minolta glass and the sharpness to both. The 28-105 lens is good, but I think for critical work with food, I may look at the superb Zeiss 24-70 f2.8.  Wish Sigma made Sony mounts.   Meanwhile, the macro and the 70-210 “Beer can” are tremendous. 

Offline Houston George

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Re: Adding Sony to the mix
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2018, 10:11:09 AM »
Looks good. Impressive sharpness at f11 for the Minolta since I would assume it's spherical given its age. Some new lens technologies, like VR, are awesome, but most lens talk centers around sharpness. The above comparison shows that lens sharpness is not a recent advancement.
Houston

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Adding Sony to the mix
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2018, 03:04:52 PM »
Right, Houston.  Minolta in its day made its own glass and fashioned that glass into lenses that led the world, even making lenses for Leica.  More recent technology has led to faster lens designs but the sharpness of the Minoltas is still superb. One cool factor is that the Sony a850/a900 have the image stabilization in the body!  Major savings on lens design/cost is the result.  In learning about the camera I’ve shot handheld 100mm frames at 1/8 second that are snarp.  Lots to like.

Offline Houston George

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Re: Adding Sony to the mix
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2018, 06:33:39 AM »
I'm jealous. Nikon and Canon really missed the boat by not integrating VR  into the body. Of course I'm sure they saw a loss of sales if they did that as opposed to forcing people to purchase new lenses. How awesome it would be to mount any old lens and have VR.
Houston

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Adding Sony to the mix
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2018, 11:28:19 AM »
First controlled test with manual metering, Macbeth chart, etc.  SOOC except for slight bump in exposure.  WB determined by eyedropper on the lightest gray panel, next to the white.  I liked the +.5 bump for the hero shot, but forgot to adjust its WB to exactly match the test chart.  Still, nice looking image.  Lens in shot is the "famous beer can" Minolta 70-200 f4, sharp, sharp, sharp; cost $59.00  Taken with the  Minolta 100mm macro f2.8, also sharp, sharp, sharp.  Cost $149.  The other 2 lenses - a 35-70 and a 28-105 -  are not quite as impressive, but cost $29 and $39 respectively.  My work lenses for food and jewelry are likely to be the 100 macro and a yet to be acquired Sony Zeiss 24-70 f2.8, or perhaps the Minolta 28-75 f2.8. 

Offline Jenny Gavin-Wear

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Re: Adding Sony to the mix
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2018, 06:55:56 PM »
Great deal Jeff, nice images too.

Curious what you will do for flash/triggering.

Was thinking what I'd have to do to if making the change. 
 - Heap of L lenses.  Although, I still have my old glass and my Maxxum 7000 - unfortunately not Minolta lenses, Sigma 75-300 and Tokina 28-70.
 - Elinchrom/Canon trigger for wireless D-Lite strobes - don't think I'd like to have to use a PC port.
 - Yongnuo 622Cs, they don't make an equivalent for Sony - apparently there is a way to make it work, but loses HSS and ETTL, so that's no good for me.

When I've seen SOOC images from the Sony A7s the skin seems to look a bit yellow.  They seem to underexpose at mid to high ISOs.  I'm assuming that's not happening with the A850?


Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Adding Sony to the mix
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2018, 08:31:12 PM »
I’m not changing, I’m adding Sony is all.  Of course your Maxxum 7000 lenses will work with the a850 or 900 or the new a99II . If you wanted to get an E Mount Sony mirrorless, there’s an adapter that works nicely on those lenses too.

There’s a flash hot shoe attachment that I got with it that allows my wireless trigger to work on my studio strobes. I intend this as a food, jewelry and product addition to my Canons.  The images look just “different”.

Offline Mike Nykoruk

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Re: Adding Sony to the mix
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2018, 05:59:16 PM »
  The images look just “different”.

er...accurate!  8-} 8)

Offline Jenny Gavin-Wear

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Re: Adding Sony to the mix
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2018, 06:03:32 PM »
I’m not changing, I’m adding Sony is all.  Of course your Maxxum 7000 lenses will work with the a850 or 900 or the new a99II . If you wanted to get an E Mount Sony mirrorless, there’s an adapter that works nicely on those lenses too.

There’s a flash hot shoe attachment that I got with it that allows my wireless trigger to work on my studio strobes. I intend this as a food, jewelry and product addition to my Canons.  The images look just “different”.

Thanks, interesting :)

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Adding Sony to the mix
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2018, 03:43:55 PM »
Since I'm still testing the Sony's capabilities and acquiring some better glass that the cheapest one I grabbed at first, it seems appropriate to post more for anyone interested in the a850/a900 cameras.  Don't be swayed by the 10 years since the a900 came out (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_Alpha_900)  this is great imaging gear from everything I'm discovering.  The Minolta 100mm f2.8 macro and the Minolta 70-210 f4 are great.  The macro rivals and may even surpass my Canon 100 f2.8 macro.  The 28-105 f3.5-4.5 xi is not the glass I'd hoped, but at $40, it's not a catastrophe.  The $29 Minolta 35-70 f4 has a sort of soft glow to it that is extremely pleasing for certain subjects.  I like it, even as I admit it's not totally sharp.  The just received 24-105 f3.5-4.5 seems quite good for the $116 price, and I'm considering either a Minolta 28-70 f2.8 G or the highly touted (but somewhat suspect mechanically) Sony Zeiss 24-70 f2.8 Vario Sonnar T as a wide to moderate tele pro lens. 

Actually, input from those with Minolta lens  experience or knowledge is appreciated.  I was a Minolta guy in the 70's and 80's, but those were the old MD film lenses.  Outstanding, but not pertinent today.

Meanwhile, a few images:

1) The first is of me, by TPPF's own Sam Levitan at a local coffee house.  35-70 f4  I like the softness of this lens, as I said before.  The colors are also very good.

2) Next is Sam, as he examines his grandfather's Minolta Maxxum 7000, for which these lenses were made.  35-70 f4  Sam generously loaned these mementos to me when I first got the body and had no lenses.  The fact that Sony's A mount bodies still operate these ca. 1985 lenses is terrific, because the best glass is just special.

3) And finally, a scenic from Wednesday evening's sunset, across from my home, after I'd gone in search of the far too elusive Super Blue Blood Moon at 5:30 that morning.  This is with the 70-210 f4 "Beer Can" a legendary period zoom.  Focused on the mailbox, f5, 1/125 sec., ISO 800, 130mm (in body stabilization activated)  combined with sunset sky at f8, 1/8000, ISO 800, 210mm   The colors are just extraordinary.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2018, 04:02:07 PM by Jeff Behm »