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Tell me about the LA-AE4

Brownie

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Tim
I'm thinking about pulling the trigger on an A7iii and would like to use my old Minolta A-Mount lenses and a Tamron 200-500. I have a couple of Sony A bodies, I'm not familiar with the E-Mount stuff other than my recent research. So I was surprised to learn Sony had manufactured an A to E with a motor. If it works as advertised it will help me make my decision. Anyone here use one? How well does the focus work, aperture, etc.?

I love the old Minolta glass and have the 28-135, 35-105, 100-200, 70-210, 75-300, and the 50/1.7 along with the previously mentioned Tamron. I do expect to end up with dedicated E-Mount glass eventually and will likely get the kit lens and a Rokinon 18 to start, but the A-Mount glass will give me some versatility while I add lenses.

Thanks for any help.
 

Tipton

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Rae Leggett
I use it pretty often and it works well. You only have contrast detect AF though, and no AF tracking. AF is surprising fast and accurate for all that. I use it mainly with the Minolta AF 70-210/4, Minolta AF 100mm f2.5 Macro and even the Minolta 500mm f8 mirror lens.

On some of the newer Sony A mount lenses, you DO have focus tracking.
 

Brownie

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Tim
You might also want to consider the LA-AE5
This is excellent info! As I said, I am just learning about the Sony E lineup. After looking at the 5, it appears to be a much better choice than the 4. Less bulky, no translucent mirror and better functionality. If it drives my old glass, I'm in. Plus, it's $100 less! What's not to like?

Edit: After a quick check at Ken Rockwell, it has limited functionality depending on the lens and body. I checked the A7Riii and the Minolta 28-135 A mount, and it won't autofocus. I'll probably need to stick with the 4.
 
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Brownie

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Tim
Yeah, there's some oddities with the LA-AE5. While it does "work" with all bodies, some features aren't supported everywhere. Like AF and AE tracking are supported with lenses lacking an internal motor when working with the Alpha a7R IV and a6600 cameras, but not older cameras.

So consider it, yes. But depending on your lenses and camera, it may not be the best choice. The AE4 has the mirror and drive motor, and may be the better choice. But for lenses that do have motors (SAM and SSM), the AE5 would focus faster and use all the Phase detection points of the camera instead of the limited PD points in the AE4.
I'm likely going to wait and see what the new rumored offering is for now. I was planning to wait until Panasonic announced a G9 successor anyway, so no big deal to hang on for the new Sony. If they (Sony) have their heads screwed on correctly the new body and AE5 will work well together.
 

Ziggy99

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Panasonic will in all likelihood stick with contrast-detect only AF which is limiting for action shooting in less than good light or busy scenes.
 

Ziggy99

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, I'm not familiar with the E-Mount stuff other than my recent research. So I was surprised to learn Sony had manufactured an A to E with a motor. If it works as advertised it will help me make my decision. Anyone here use one? How well does the focus work, aperture, etc.?
Gary Friedman has a YouTube vid on the adaptors. If memory serves the 4 has a phase detect AF module.
 

Brownie

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Tim
I've seen the videos. Bloggers don't do much for me in use. They help with technical bits and some operation, but I'm looking for real-world experience from guys like us. I think I've learned enough to wait for the rumored release of the A7IV. I can then make a decision to go with it, or an A7III.

As for Panasonic's focus, it doesn't use contrast based alone, it uses Depth from Defocus, an AI system in conjunction with contrast. On static or reasonably slow moving targets it's deadly accurate and fast as hell. The new firmware updates have improved tracking and animal recognition to excellent. On fast action though, it spends a lot of time hunting and fails to find focus more times than I think is acceptable. I don't mean kids and dogs action, or even sports, I means airshows, auto racing, etc.
 

Ziggy99

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I used a G9 for bird photography. It AFed effectively about 80% of the time. Perched birds it regularly failed at.
DfD means the body knows the blurring characteristics of Panasonic lenses and after a focus sample knows which direction to send the lens in and roughly how far. So it speeds up CDAF but doesn't overcome its other limitations and doesn't help with non-native lenses.
Panasonic did good work on the focussing algorithm to offer near or far lock preferencing, something that Nikon flubbed with its initial mirrorless FF offerings.
 

Brownie

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I used a G9 for bird photography. It AFed effectively about 80% of the time. Perched birds it regularly failed at.
DfD means the body knows the blurring characteristics of Panasonic lenses and after a focus sample knows which direction to send the lens in and roughly how far. So it speeds up CDAF but doesn't overcome its other limitations and doesn't help with non-native lenses.
Panasonic did good work on the focussing algorithm to offer near or far lock preferencing, something that Nikon flubbed with its initial mirrorless FF offerings.
Conversely, perched birds have never been an issue for me...only getting close enough! I don't typically do much bird photography but have been messing with it a bit more since there's a good selection near an overgrown area by a pond at work.

The near/far is actually pretty astounding. I have them programmed to the front buttons near the lens and can reach them without changing my grip. That addition was two firmware upgrades ago. The latest was released just a few weeks back and supposedly provides the same autofocus capabilities as the S5. I used it at a recent air show and was again underwhelmed.

These are 50-60% crops. The upgraded animal detect is pretty accurate. It had no problem finding the Yellow Warbler in brush. I love the shot of the juvenile Starling, nothing special but pleasing.

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P1074407 by telecast, on Flickr

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P1074426 by telecast, on Flickr
 

Ziggy99

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Yeah, BIF were a challenge with the G9 when there was a busy background or low light but other systems suffer from that in varying degrees.

I liked the focus point selection option with the G9 but can't say I ever mastered it. And with grab shots you have to make a guess about what's coming.

I went from the G9 to a Nikon D500 and now Sony A9 and A7R III. Out of those, for birds especially when IF, the D500 has proven the most reliable and the hardest to learn. The Sonys have a problem with small perched birds - so much so that they can't be recommended for record shooting. My local Sony/Nikon/Canon agent says it's down to the line-type on-chip PD sensors getting too easily confused.
 

Dan Euritt

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The way to play the LA-EA4 is to get a used one, it should be cheap and therefore maybe worth it for the old Minolta glass. As I recall, the LA-EA5 needed firmware updates for full functionality on the older 3rd-gen bodies, and that hasn't happened. Sony did a recent a9ii firmware update, but I don't think that it said anything about the LA-EA5.

I've used the a7r/LA-EA4 with a pristine copy of the old screw-drive Minolta 50/1.7. It was a disappointment, with both lens p.q. wide open and autofocus performance in low-light. The a7r/LA-EA4 works better with lenses that have their own SAM/SSM motors, in part because those focus motors eliminate the positioning vagarities of screw-drive. See below for some examples of a7r/LA-EA4/tamron 150-600 with difficult action performance shooting.

I used that same lens with an a9/LA-EA3, and it blew the LA-EA4 away, with a much higher keeper ratio. It's unfortunately limited to 10fps af-c due to Sony restrictions with a-mount glass on e-mount bodies, but it had accurate af-c even while zooming fast cars at 100mph, across different focal lengths. I had to retire the Tamron lens for the FE200-600, because it developed p.q. problems at 600mm. Of course the FE200-600 was another huge step up, it's 30fps-capable on the a1. Canikon still doesn't have anything comparable to the FE200-600, much less any camera body that can match a9 af tracking performance.

One other option is the so-called "Monster Adapter", aka remove the LA-EA4 mirror and replace the circuit board in the adapter. I don't have any experience with it, and afaik it only works with screw-drive glass?? https://friedmanarchives.blogspot.com/2021/05/my-last-post-about-monster-adapter-la.html

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