1st adapted lens... looking for tips on using a heavy lens handheld w/o tripod or VF

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by Amamba, Apr 18, 2013.

  1. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    So, after losing a couple of eBay auctions, I finally scored my first adapted lens off CL, the Minolta MD 70-210/4. The guy who sold it to me claims to be the only owner, the lens is in great shape (only missing a front cap).

    I was initially set on getting a 35-70/3.5, however I am slowly warming up to the 18-55 kit, and with that and the SEL50F18, I figured I am missing the tele range.

    I never however held the 70-210 before. The thing is larger than I expected (not as huge as my Tamron 70-300VC on Canon, but still large). It's heavy (solid steel and glass). No stablization. And I can see right away that using it handheld, without a viewfinder that helps to brace the camera against your face, could be problematic. I will not however use a tripod or monopod - just doesn't work out for the way I use the camera.

    So, I am looking for some tips from people who are used to this kind of shooting. Bumping up ISO and shutter speed is obvious, so is bracing it against some surface. What else do you do ? Any way of holding the camera & lens that makes it steadier while still alowing you to focus & see the screen ? Do you use the flip screen a lot ?
  2. dbmiller

    dbmiller TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Mar 2, 2012
    New England
    I had a 70-210/4 in FD mount. Only shot with it a few times so far, but I definitely recommend Shutter preferred mode, with Auto-ISO. That way, you select the aperture on camera, and a minimal shutter speed to avoid camera shake, and let Auto-ISO do the rest.

    I have used the flip-up LCD and braced against my chest, but also have the EVF for my 5n, so that's works too. Other than that, find a way to comfortably cradle the lens in your left hand, so that you can still make minor focus adjustments while holding it steady.
  3. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    That zoom is pretty ok and the focal range is very nice (with 1.5 crop factor you have 100mm-300mm). I don't have that particular lens but I have Vivitar series 1 70-210/3.5 and it is ok hand held if there is enough light. I use monopod quite often, I have nothing against it.

    I think that those 70/80-210/200 zooms are pretty good addition to the kit zoom. Old shorter zooms are not generally very good but primes are so I would look about legacy 50mm prime, sigma 19mm and 30mm primes (maybe 24mm and 135mm legacy primes) and after these that 35-70mm/3.5 (it is pretty ok and it is faster than kit zoom and would suit my needs very well and it is inexpensive so I will get one sooner or later, it will probably be my first md lens).
  4. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    I def need to learn how to brace this lens. But holy poop is it sharp ! I took several shots wide open with a flash to avoid motion blur and even wide open at f4 this lens looks amazing. Definitely a keeper, especially given the price (not super cheap but at $55 not bad for such sharp lens).
  5. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    It is super cheap. SEL55210 is about 10 times more expensive and slower (but has got OSS, autofocus and is lighter).
  6. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur Subscribing Member

    Nov 13, 2012
    Ad Dieleman
    I have that Minolta 70-210mm as well but I never use it after having played with it on the NEX. For me it's simply too large and heavy, and focussing is difficult at 210mm even with the NEX-6 and its peaking. Holding it still is another challenge, especially after some time when my hands and arms get tired of the weight. IMHO the 6's boxy shape isn't the best when it comes to handholding large lenses. I fare much better with the Minolta 50-135/3.5 and 75-150/4. Indeed, less range, but both are much lighter and optically better. I'm one of the few people who isn't overwhelmed by the 70-210mm nor by the earlier 75-200/4.5, for me these are just not sharp enough. If pressed I'd have a slight preference for the 75-200/4.5 which has a more even image quality across the zoom range; the 70-210mm is best at the long end.

    I've had 2 samples of the SEL-55210 and returned both because of the troubles I had with them; shame really, because it's a convenient lens with stabilization, decent AF and an image quality that is quite good in the center, but less in the corners. I'd go for it again if Sony gets a better grip on its quality control, I'm not prepared to return and return anc return a lens until I get an acceptable sample.
  7. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Some good advice.

    I will add that the priciple of breathing out before shooting, the same as when shooting a gun, helps out as well.

    Additionally, using your arm in a triangle against your waist gives some additional support.
  8. eno789

    eno789 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Jan 1, 2012
    NoCal, USA
    There're adapters with tripod socket. That might help in some cases.
  9. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    I don't use tripods. Kids and tripods are a bad combination, for many reasons.

    I took it out for a walk in the park yesterday and it was an interesting experience. Kind of mixed. It was very bright and peak focusing didn't work very well. The lens feels very heavy and awkward with small body, and because there's no viewfinder it's very hard to hold still. I jacked up shutter speed so high it was shooting at ISO3200 before I caught this. I was expecting the resulting shots to be a total disaster.

    The results, once I got them into LR, are very interesting. Slight motion blur ( likely from my hands) if I pixel peep, yet surprisingly nice zoomed out, beautiful bokeh and overall 70s feel to the photos.

    I will probably try to get a smaller tele with similar IQ, perhaps Minolta 138/2.8.



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  10. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    If your lens adapter doesn't have a tripod collar on it you might be able to use a walking stick. Or rather a shooting stick similar to this one. Once you set the focal length you'd just lay the lens in the "V" and let it support the weight while you compose/focus the shot.

    If you already have a monopod you may be able to find just the "V" support by itself if you look around.
  11. Jaf-Photo

    Jaf-Photo TalkEmount Veteran

    Mar 25, 2013
    I mostly use EVF but I think you could cradle the 70-210 in your left hand while using the screen. I find the combined focus and focal length ring to be quite intuitive and easier to use than separate rings.

    The weight and length of the lens, especially with the long NEX adapter, makes it quite impractical to carry. So I only bring it if I know I will be doing tele or macro shots.

    I can recommend the 135mm Rokkors for macro and portrait work, especially the 4/4 versions. But 135mm is a bit too short for real tele. And the lens is pretty long with the NEX adapter too.
  12. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    What lens in MD / MC mount would you recommend ? I don't care if it's long, as long as it's not heavy and can be shot handheld, and I don't really need a super tele, I am more looking at FL that allows to nicely compress the background for portraits and has great bokeh and colors. 85mm or 135mm would work just great. I really don't need tele all that often, and when I do I'm better off with a stabilized lens.
  13. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    ^^I like this shot :thumbup:

    Definately try the MD 135mm 2.8 or 3.5 - I have the latter and I think its a lovely lens ;)

    But If you're looking for MD zooms and want something relatively small (short and not very heavy), there are a few options available (not to the long 210mm side tho) - most not good as prime/fixed focal lenth lenses but still quite good...
  14. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Feb 4, 2013
    Probably not what you want to hear, but I have a Minolta MC 70-210mm f4 and a MD 135mm f2.8 and I have all but given up trying to use them (though I think may 135mm prime may be a dud).

    I might try again if I have a shot in mind, of something very still! I am not selling just because they look and feel amazing.

    I have had a lot more success with 50mm and 35mm legacy primes, the lack of zoom makes the focusing easier. Anything beyond that an I go for the SEL55210.
  15. Jaf-Photo

    Jaf-Photo TalkEmount Veteran

    Mar 25, 2013
    A safe recommendation is the MD 135mm f/3.5. It is cheap and sharp (most 3.5 are [4/4]). You will get some distance between you and the subject and it is sharp enough to crop down a bit for even closer photos. Very smooth bokeh but you won't get closer than about five feet.
  16. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    I am slowly getting a hang of it.. but slowly. About 50 % keeper rate, not just because of camera shake but a lot of times because I forget to set ISO and it ends up shooting at ISO3200 which can be pretty noisy.

    When I manage to nail focus and not get too much noise the results are nice. These photos were processed but I didn't have to "resque" them, just the usual stuff:



    Perhaps 135/2.8 could work out better, how is the optics / bokeh on that one ?
  17. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur Subscribing Member

    Nov 13, 2012
    Ad Dieleman
    Look here for some examples. For me bokeh is good, but I'm not overly critical to it. And the handling is great. When I stick to 1/500 s shutter speed, I hardly get motion blur and the lens is already excellent at f/4 so it's useable under less favourable lighting conditions.