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Choosing Minolta Legacy Lenses

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by Hawkman, Jun 5, 2014.

  1. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount Top Veteran

    938
    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    Now that I've become mildly addicted to Minolta legacy lenses, and while my budget remains limited, I'm thinking I might be able to fit one or two more in if they can be had at less than $100 each.

    So, that being said, I've been keeping my eye out for a 35mm and two lenses have caught my attention: (1) the MD W.Rokkor-X 35mm f/2.8, and (2) the MD 35-70mm f/3.5 Macro zoom. I have read goo things about both.

    So my question, especially to the Minolta experts out there, is if I had to choose just one of those two right now - and let's say that the 35-70 is actually less expensive than the 35 prime - which would you recommend? All hypothetically, of course. ;)

    On the one hand, the 35 prime is a faster lens, but in the other, the 35-70 is apparently well-regarded, has macro-like capability, and offers a little more flexibility in focal lengths.
    Since I'm also considering the currently discounted Sigma 30mm f/2.8, I have to say I am leaning toward the MD 35-70.

    (Man, this GAS - or LBA - is a tough affliction.)
     
  2. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    I'd say it's a bit of a toss-up in terms of image quality. The 35/2.8 can be very good, but my 3 samples show a lot of sample variation while they are supposedly of the same optical design. The best sample is completely satisfactory for landscapes on an A7 at f/8. I've also had a number of MD 35-70/3.5 macro samples and they were consistently very good from f/5.6 onwards both on the NEX-6 and the A7, but they all suffer(ed) from mild decentering: the left edge was less sharp than the right edge or the other way around, even varying with one lens when zooming through its range. If you're not bothered by its smaller max. aperture I'd go for the 35-70/3.5 zoom.
     
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  3. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount Top Veteran

    938
    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    Thanks Ad, that's great info. I was going to ask if the 35-70 is sharper than the SEL1855 kit lens (which I suspect I know the answer to: "Yes, if you focus it properly."), but I just checked and the one I was eyeing has already been sold.

    That was quick. Next time I see one, I won't hesitate.


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  4. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Cyprus
    Nick
    They are pretty easy to come by on ebay, both not expensive ;)

    I have both and to tell you the truth I don't use the MD 35 2.8 much. Probably cause I prefer the versatility (and close focus capabilities!!!) of the MD Zoom 35-70mm 3.5 macro - which btw I use A LOT :D

    But...the prime is faster and should be better/sharper @ 35mm than the Zoom is...I guess in the end of the day is a question if you are a prime or a zoom type of photographer ;)
     
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  5. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount Top Veteran

    938
    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    The close focus abilities of the MD Zoom 35-70mm f/3.5 Macro are probably the thing that tilts the balance heavily in its favor. And, from past experience, I've been mostly a "zoom-type". So, I am really kicking myself for not grabbing the one I saw immediately. It lasted less than a day on KEH... that ought to tell me/everyone something about it's desirability.

    That said, I've really gotten to like the MC 50 1.4 prime. ;)



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  6. Snowy

    Snowy TalkEmount Veteran

    218
    Nov 18, 2013
    Melbourne, Australia
    Barry
    I've had two of the 35-70 macros. I think they deserve their good reputation. I sold one to fund another lens purchase but would not willingly part with the one I kept. I don't have a 35mm so can't offer a comparison there I'm afraid. The 35-70 and the 50 1.4 are my two favourite Rokkors among a number of favourites.


    Best wishes
    Barry
     
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  7. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Cyprus
    Nick

    That's my latest and current bag configuration :D (until I buy the PZ 18-105 and Minolta Macro)
     
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  8. eno789

    eno789 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    720
    Jan 1, 2012
    NoCal, USA
    Brian
    On APS-C 24mm ~ 28mm will be very useful. I can walk around with a 24mm or 28mm prime on my NEX 5N. My 35-70mm gets a lot more use on the full frame, even the corners are good.
     
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  9. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount Top Veteran

    938
    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    I've come to appreciate my MD W.Rokkor-X 28 f/2.8 a bit more again. Took it out for just a bit this weekend while working and realized that it's field of view is pretty good... just slightly wider than "normal" on an APS-C body. Turns out I just need to learn to use it properly. For the time being, between it, the MC 50 1.4, and the kit 18-55 and 55-210 zooms, I think I have most situations covered. For now, I think I should learn to better use what I have.

    That being said, I reserve the right to snap up a good, decent priced copy of the MD 35-70 if I see one. ;)



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  10. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    I have both, and I have noticed my MD 35-70 does have slightly better contrast with nicer colours.

    I very rarely use it at 35mm though, If I want to shoot at that focal length I normally do take the prime, just because it is much smaller and more ergonomic on my 5R.

    The MD 35-70 is quite complicated, you twist to zoom, twist to focus and then push a little button to twist over into macro mode.
     
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  11. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Cyprus
    Nick

    Personally I prefer the twist to zoom lenses than the push-pull type :)
     
  12. mingus2112

    mingus2112 TalkEmount Regular

    142
    Jun 16, 2014
    I was about to tell you to grab the 35mm 1.8 (Old style MC with the metal focus ring) and quickly looked up the prices on ebay. OUCH! I certainly did not pay those prices for it and, honestly, I don't remember where I got it. It's a solid performer, though, if you ever come across one in your budget. It's pretty sharp at 2.8 and not bad even wide open.

    Another one you might want to check out is the 28mm 2.8. It's definitely under budget and a nice lens. I like it a lot on my NEX so far - kind of reminds me of a 50mm on a full frame. I'll also use a 45mm F2 from time to time but, honestly, price and physical size wise the 28mm beats it.

    edit:
    oops - also meant to mention that I also have the 38-70 (non-macro version) and it's pretty sharp. It's an impressive zoom lens considering zoom technology wasn't really top notch back when these were being made!

    -James
     
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  13. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount Top Veteran

    938
    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    James, thanks for the input. I do have an MD 28mm 2.8 and am learning to appreciate it more, when used in the proper circumstances. I think it will tide me over in the "normal" range for an APS-C sensor mount. My problem before (and still) is knowing which lens to use in which circumstances.

    Example: I took the SEL55210 zoom into the Air & Space museum Udvar-Hazy annex here last month and left the others, including the kit 18-55 and the MD 28 2.8 in the car. Oops, big mistake... big planes need wide angle or normal at most, not telephoto. Silly Steve. ;)




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  14. mingus2112

    mingus2112 TalkEmount Regular

    142
    Jun 16, 2014
    SUCH a coincidence! Not to hijack the thread, but I would love some DC-centric tips if you have them! Would love to see some shots that you got while you were there. The whole reason I picked up the NEX 3N last week is gearing towards a family vacation to DC (and of course the Air and Space museum) this summer or fall. I want to shoot some slide film outside, but on days that i'll be in a few museums, I'd rather not risk them forcing me through the metal detector! Feel free to PM me if you have any tips and if you can/are willing to share some pics!

    Back on topic...

    You might want to take a look for a 135mm Rokkor if you don't already have one. I have three different versions and the 4/4 (4 element, 4 groups) 2.8 version is my favorite. They're sometimes marked "QD." Another thing i'm considering picking up (and you might too) is a focal reducer. I was recommended one but quickly dismissed it as 1) the highest rated one (metabones) is outside my price range for the "hobby" right now and 2) I didn't like the idea of "cheap glass" being added to the lens. Seemed like it defeated the whole purpose of using awesome older lenses! That said, i've heard some great things about the new "Lens Turbo" II (second version) and, for about $150, would make my 28mm ACTUALLY 28mm. Could be great!

    -James
     
  15. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount Top Veteran

    938
    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    As it turns out, I live in the DC area, so I imagine I could think of a few tips... starting with using normal or wide angle lenses in museums. Unfortunately, as a now longtime resident of the area, I find I don't get out to many of the "sites" as often as I ought to, except when I have visitors.

    One money saving tip I can share is that while all of the Smithsonian museums and the National Gallery of Art have free admission, the Stephen F. Udvar Hazy Center of the National Air & Space Museum, which is well outside DC proper and just south of Dulles International Airport, does charge for parking in its lot. However, at 4:00pm everyday they stop charging for parking. The museum closes at 5:30pm typically, so that won't leave you much time, but certainly enough to see some great stuff and get some good shots... of things like the Space Shuttle Discovery (the oldest and most traveled of the shuttles), an SR-71, the in/famous "Enola Gay" B-29, a Concorde, and more.

    As it turns out, I do have a MD Celtic 135mm f/3.5. I haven't used it much (it was an "impulse buy" at just $17), but I took a few shots this morning and if any came out okay I'll post 'em.


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  16. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount Top Veteran

    938
    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    Back to the 35-70, I have another quick question for our Minolta experts. I have just seen a few listings for a MD 35-70mm f/3.5-4.8 2-Touch Macro. I don't see this one on Ad's site and was curious if this is any way comparable to the famous MD 35-70mm f/3.5?

    I can't seem to find much on this MD 35-70 3.5-4.8, but do see some more info on the MD 28-70mm f/3.5-4.8 2-Touch Macro. Are either of these worth the $40-$50 I am seeing them go for? They don't seem much different in range (FL and Aperture) from the SEL 18-55 kit lens.


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  17. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    I cannot speak for the 35-70/3.5-4.8 zoom. I have the 28-70/3.5-4.8 and optically it is decent if I remember correctly; I bought that one for € 10 out of curiosity but I don't see the point in using it. These are Minolta branded lenses but supposedly made by Cosina; mechanically they're not up to Minolta standard IMHO. If they go for $40-50 they're obviously worth it in the economical sense, but personally I wouldn't spend more than € 10 on those if I'd consider buying one (which I don't).
     
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  18. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount Top Veteran

    938
    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    Thanks Ad. When I looked up MD 35-70 f/3.5-4.8 via Google, most of what I saw was for Cosina lenses, Tokina, or other similar 3rd party makes.


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  19. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount Top Veteran

    938
    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    Back with another Minolta lens choice thought/inquiry: Macro.
    Which Minolta MC/MD macro lens is the "better" choice, the MD 50mm/3.5 or the MD 100mm/4? I know "better" is a subjective term and the answer will be a very personal choice depending on each person's preferred shooting style, but I'm curious as to what experiences others have had with each of these lenses, especially the 50.

    The 50 seems much easier to find and at prices generally under US$100, whereas the 100/4 is much more rare and seems to tip the scales well over $100 (I'm seeing a lot of $300+ "buy it now" listings on eBay). And I also know that with its longer focal length the 100/4 will likely be easier to "get in close" to elusive things like insects, but I'm still curious what experiences others have had with each lens.


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  20. mingus2112

    mingus2112 TalkEmount Regular

    142
    Jun 16, 2014
    You're exactly right with the getting in close part. I only have the 50 and have only shot some test shots with it. Please excuse the "spots" that I didn't care to edit out of these. They were actually two dust particles on the sensor of my NEX 3N! They were probably there since I bought it and I never notices until I was shooting macro shots. A few quick puffs of air fixed that.

    14476798295_9e40938e2e_z.
    Macro Flower - Wide open by jamesderose, on Flickr

    This one is the only one that is a crop - but not by a lot. EDIT: it is NOT the cropped photo - this one is the full image!
    14476795845_d34552530b_z.
    Macro BUG - Wide open at 3.5 by jamesderose, on Flickr

    14475598764_a1a93a648a_z.
    Bud by jamesderose, on Flickr

    I just took these shots testing out the lens one day with a buddy. I'm going to try to do some more extensive tests with the NEX/Rokkor combos once I get my NEX-6 in the mail today or tomorrow. Bottom line is that I'm extremely happy with my 50mm macro, but the COLLECTOR in me is still seeking the 100mm. From a practical standpoint, and having the ability to crop MUCH more than I did with that bug photo (it was probably only about a 20 or 30% crop), i'd be just as happy with the 50mm. The extension tube is MANDATORY, though. Hope that helps!

    -James

    edit: made images a little larger
    edit: second photo is not a crop!
     

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