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View Full Version : Trying to help Dad become digital- old 35mm Minolta lenses


PaDisneyCouple
05-02-2011, 10:44 AM
My father has enjoyed photography for many years. Oh, the slide shows we used to look at. Saved our bacon after our wedding, when the "professional" photographer's post-wedding church photos didn't come out (none of them!). Dad has a Minolta 35mm camera, with about 4 different lenses for it. He's afraid that he'll never be able to use them again, with everything (it seems) being digital now. I thought I'd heard that Nikon made a camera body that old Minolta lenses fit on. Is this correct? If so, does this just apply to certain Nikon bodies, or all of them? What would be a good "starting" one for him to get (or be given) if his 35mm lenses can live again?

Thanks,
Sean

teekathepony
05-02-2011, 10:50 AM
No, not Nikon. Sony does though. Autofocus Minolta lenses will work on the Sony bodies.

zackiedawg
05-02-2011, 10:59 AM
He has 2 possible options for keeping current lenses:

If Minolta Maxxum/Dyxum/Autofocus lenses: Any Sony DSLR body will be fully compatible, and will meter, autofocus, and work like normal. All lenses will be stabilized as this resides in the camera body.

If his 35mm lenses are of the older MD manual focus variety, then the Sony bodies would not be the best choice. In this case, adapters are going to be needed for any camera you choose. As it happens, the best cameras to use old manual lenses with via adapters are the mirrorless cameras - Sony NEX, Olympus Pen, Panasonic G, and Samsung NX. All of these mirrorless systems have very small registration distances to their sensors and need only a very simple glassless adapter ring to mount any manual lens you want. The Sony NEX and Samsung NX both use an APS-C sensor and have the same 1.5x crop factor as most entry level DSLRs. The Olympus and Panasonic mirrorless cameras use a 'micro 4:3' sensor which is slightly smaller, and have a larger 2x crop factor.

Some DSLRs might be able to use the Minolta lenses via adapter, but may not be optimal to use them - often the adapters have glass elements in them which reduce quality, some have trouble with infinity focus, and you have to have very good lenses to make it worthwhile. If his old Minolta glass is really good stuff - the real high end lenses that people would still love to have, then it's worthwhile. If his Minolta lenses are kit lenses or basic cheap zooms, then it might not be all that important to try to adapt them.

Do you happen to know what the lenses are? Those of us familiar with Minolta lenses can tell you how good or valuable any of them might be, and whether it's worth it going with a Sony DSLR system, a mirrorless system, or just scrapping them and not worrying.

PaDisneyCouple
05-02-2011, 03:43 PM
Thanks to both of you.


Do you happen to know what the lenses are? Those of us familiar with Minolta lenses can tell you how good or valuable any of them might be, and whether it's worth it going with a Sony DSLR system, a mirrorless system, or just scrapping them and not worrying.

I don't know, but will try to find out. I might have to look at them myself when I see Mom and Dad next. I'll keep you posted.

Daisy14'sDH
05-02-2011, 09:31 PM
A friend of mine just went through all of this but had a substantial investment in Minolta lenses, the only bodies that will work with them are the Sonys, but there is still an issue ( he said) with all the lenses being able to focus to infinity, older lenses wont he says, I dunno how true it is, but after all this he decided to switch to Pentax...

zackiedawg
05-03-2011, 09:48 AM
The infinity focus issues would only be true of manual focus 'MD' Minolta lenses, via adapters. Any Minolta Maxxum (autofocus) lens of any vintage and from any third-party brands should work fully and without issue on Sony DSLR bodies - the only problem areas involved one or two Sigma lens models from the past which had a compatibility problem with the speedy focus motors of newer Sony DSLR bodies and suffered from some gear stripping. Minolta-made lenses are absolutely solid and in my experience over the past 5 years using Sony bodies, bulletproof.

Daisy14'sDH
05-03-2011, 07:55 PM
My freinds problem was that ALL his Minolta lenses are Manual Focus, out of his investment they just weren't worth the aggravation (his words)

So are you saying only the Auto focus lenses can reach infinity? Sorry its been a long day (in case I read that wrong)

KAT4DISNEY
05-04-2011, 01:08 AM
My freinds problem was that ALL his Minolta lenses are Manual Focus, out of his investment they just weren't worth the aggravation (his words)

So are you saying only the Auto focus lenses can reach infinity? Sorry its been a long day (in case I read that wrong)

Yes - Sony kept the Minolta Auto focus mount and all of those lenses are compatible.

I have a few manual focus Minolta lenses but never even bothered with an adapter for my Sony camera. However I bought a couple of Minolta Auto focus lenses to use.

Daisy14'sDH
05-04-2011, 06:57 AM
Yes - Sony kept the Minolta Auto focus mount and all of those lenses are compatible.

I have a few manual focus Minolta lenses but never even bothered with an adapter for my Sony camera. However I bought a couple of Minolta Auto focus lenses to use.

Hopefully the OP read this and can verify their Fathers lens kit....

zackiedawg
05-04-2011, 10:08 AM
It should be pretty easy to find out - either dad will know and can tell the OP, or as the OP said he may see them himself when next he visits - a quick look for a few keywords on the lenses (Maxxum, AF, or Dyxum), or simply the lack of an aperture ring most of the time, will confirm they are autofocus Minolta lenses and will work perfectly on a Sony body...or if they are manual lenses, in which case they will not work without an adapter, and wouldn't be recommended.

The other factor is which Maxxum lenses the father has. If he's got a basic kit lens, a cheap 70-200 zoom, and a cheap 50mm prime, those wouldn't be valuable or hard to replace/replicate. But if he's got any of the more desirable or expensive or rare lenses, like the 135STF, any of the APO G primes, etc, then by all means that would be a big motivator to picking up a great Sony DSLR body and put those gorgeous lenses to work!

KAT4DISNEY
05-04-2011, 03:25 PM
Hopefully the OP read this and can verify their Fathers lens kit....

Of course at the moment I'm really contemplating getting a Sony NEX camera and an adapter to use my old Minolta manual (MD) lenses! :goodvibes And the funny thing is that I'd have a set up that was similar in size to the 35mm film set up! Actually a little smaller but close.

zackiedawg
05-04-2011, 03:42 PM
NEXes are lots of fun with old manual lenses! I've been thoroughly enjoying mine - not only with my Pentax K-mount lenses from my film camera, but I've even become a bit of a manual lens hunter since, picking up a total of 11 manual lenses for my NEX so far, with two mount adapters to use them. Total investment for 11 lenses and 2 adapters: $140!

KAT4DISNEY
05-04-2011, 04:00 PM
NEXes are lots of fun with old manual lenses! I've been thoroughly enjoying mine - not only with my Pentax K-mount lenses from my film camera, but I've even become a bit of a manual lens hunter since, picking up a total of 11 manual lenses for my NEX so far, with two mount adapters to use them. Total investment for 11 lenses and 2 adapters: $140!

I think I'll partially blame you for getting me back looking at them again!! ;) And the fact that Sony has a decent package sale going on right now isn't helping and I have been considering one since I was first able to look at it. I don't have any terrific MD lenses but they are ones I always liked and it's kind of annoyed me to have them sitting around. And then I'll run across some nice old lenses now and then so I think why not?! A few of my A mount lense are SSM/SAM so if I get the adaptor for those it really becomes a versitile body for me. I just wish the price of that adaptor were more along the line's of the MD one!

MICKEY88
05-04-2011, 05:53 PM
It should be pretty easy to find out - either dad will know and can tell the OP, or as the OP said he may see them himself when next he visits - a quick look for a few keywords on the lenses (Maxxum, AF, or Dyxum),!

I believe the foreign name for the maxxums was Dynax

zackiedawg
05-05-2011, 08:26 AM
Oops - indeed it is. I know that! I think I'm too used to visiting the dyxum.com website and it just came out that way. Thanks for the correction!

MICKEY88
05-05-2011, 01:57 PM
Oops - indeed it is. I know that! I think I'm too used to visiting the dyxum.com website and it just came out that way. Thanks for the correction!

I kinda figured it was something like that, because you seem to know, the Minolta/Sony line like the back of your hand..:thumbsup2:thumbsup2

PaDisneyCouple
05-06-2011, 12:18 PM
I called Dad this morning, and gave him his assignment: locate all lenses, and get me the appropriate info to post. He said he knows where they are, and will call me with the information. Unfortunately, he has some other important things to tend to: like a lawn that is about half way up the limbs of his greyhound.

zackiedawg
05-06-2011, 01:15 PM
If he ends up with any large-sized, all-metal, white painted lenses with APO G designations written on the side...make sure to let him know they are worthless and I'll do him the favor of taking them off his hands for $20 each, and I'll pay shipping. Just as a favor to a fellow DISer. ;)

KAT4DISNEY
05-06-2011, 01:50 PM
If he ends up with any large-sized, all-metal, white painted lenses with APO G designations written on the side...make sure to let him know they are worthless and I'll do him the favor of taking them off his hands for $20 each, and I'll pay shipping. Just as a favor to a fellow DISer. ;)

I wouldn't want you to become overwhelmed with a bunch of big, white useless lenses Justin so I'll step up and take every second one. :rolleyes1

PaDisneyCouple
05-06-2011, 06:35 PM
I just got off the phone with Dad. Here's what I've found out:

The 35mm camera: Minolta SRTSC-II

Lens 1: Minolta, MD ROKKOR-X 45mm 1:2

Lens 2: Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm 1:3.5 Macro Focusing Zoom VMC (of G- having trouble reading it, he said). O (with a slash through it) 62mm

Lens 3: Minolta, MD 50mm 1:1.7 O (with a slash through it) 49mm (Dad said this was the one he used at our wedding)


I asked him where he keeps his stash of APO G lenses, and he just laughed. Guess he didn't want to give that out over the phone. :lmao:

zackiedawg
05-06-2011, 11:39 PM
Lens 1: Minolta, MD ROKKOR-X 45mm 1:2

Lens 2: Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm 1:3.5 Macro Focusing Zoom VMC (of G- having trouble reading it, he said). O (with a slash through it) 62mm

Lens 3: Minolta, MD 50mm 1:1.7 O (with a slash through it) 49mm (Dad said this was the one he used at our wedding)

The good news: He's got some nice lenses there. The 45mm and 50mm lenses are good, sharp, fast primes, and the Vivitar 70-210mm F3.5 can be anywhere from a good lens to an excellent lens (depends on when it was built - there are 3 different manufacturers who have made these lenses for Vivitar - one is highly desirable, one quite solid and well respected, and the third a solid good.

The bad news: They're all manual lenses, which means they actually won't work on any DSLRs out today without an adapter - and most DSLR adapters are going to have glass elements in them which reduce quality and occasionally trouble focusing to infinity. And some DSLRs cannot meter properly with these adapters and old manual lenses.

The alternate good news: If you think he would enjoy getting into digital photography, but doesn't necessarily need a DSLR body - there is a class of camera that is absolutely perfect for these lenses - the mirrorless interchangeable lens (MIL) cameras. These are the Sony NEX, Olympus Pen, Panasonic G series, and Samsung NX. All of these cameras have large, DSLR like sensors and much better quality than P&S cameras, but in slimmer, more compact bodies due to their removal of the mirrors. The Olympus and Panasonic both use a micro 4:3 sensor which is a bit smaller than DSLR sensors, while the Sony and Samsung use standard APS-C sensors the same as DSLRs. The removal of the mirror means the lenses attach almost on top of the sensor - what's known as the 'registration distance'...most SLR and rangefinder cameras vary in registration depth from 27mm to 61mm. Micro 4:3 cameras only need 20mm, and Sony NEX need only 18mm - which means they can, via glassless adapters which are nothing more than spacer rings, accept any lens of any mount of any brand ever made.

It's something worth considering - it'll still be old style shooting - manual focus and manual aperture - which some of us thoroughly enjoy and others might not like at all. But once you set the aperture, these cameras can fully meter with these lenses - they'll choose the shutter and ISO if you want, or you can control them manually.

But if he wants to get all the autofocus advantages of a modern DSLR, then he can choose any of the DSLR brands out there that best suits him and feels good in hand...the Minolta MD lenses, even the good ones, aren't very valuable...manual lenses are experiencing a little renaissance due to the mirrorless cameras' popularity - but that only means the prices have gone from $20 to maybe $40 or $50 for the good lenses - they're still dirt cheap (I bought my Vivitar Series One 70-210 F3.5 for $20!).

Hope that helps a little.

PaDisneyCouple
05-09-2011, 06:37 AM
Thank you very much for the detailed response. I'll read it to Dad in the near future (I also need to get him off the stick and get that laptop). If he has any questions, I'll post them here.

seashoreCM
05-09-2011, 08:38 AM
It's always nice to be able to use the old lenses although, of course, if the lenses are manual then they will still be manual.

The most obvious difference is that the digial camera sensor is smaller so it spans a smaller amount of the same image projected by the lens into the new camera versus the old camera. It's like cropping the picture after you upload it except you have no choice about this cropping. The final result is like having a wide angle lens give you a "normal" view, or a "normal" lens giving a telephoto view.

NWmom
05-17-2011, 12:14 AM
Now that the OP has gotten an answer can I play?

Camera #1 (Bought late 79s early 80s)Minolta XG-M
When I met him hubby had this camera and lenses he loved. The camera body has officially died. Hoping to salvage the lenses if it is worth it.

Minolta MD 50mm prime 1:2 filter opening 49mm

Tamron SP 60-300mm 1:3.8-5.4 filter opening 62mm

Minolta MC Tele ROKKOR-PF 135mm prime 1:2.8 filter opening 55mm

Albinar ADG 28mm 1:2.8 filter opening 52mm

Promaster Spectrum 7 Auto teleconverter 2x for M/MD


Camera #2 (Bought in 2001)Minolta Stsi -this one still works, just film is very hard to buy locally.

1-Are the lenses worth putting on a new body like the manuals?
or
2-Can they work with a DLSR body? And if yes, need adaptors or not?
3- Worth it or not?

Promaster AF 28-105mm 1:4-5.6 filter 62mm

Promaster AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 filter 55mm
Tele-Macro (1:4) infinity -1.5m

To round out the thoughts and know what we own, we just upgraded- the new camera is Nikon D7000.

Wildife shooting is my favorite.
AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor 18-200 f/3- 4.5? similar to next one same line
AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor 70-300 f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED Telephoto Zoom.

But no primes yet. Worth putting the old primes on a new body?
Or selling the old lenses and adding primes to this body as money allows?

Thanks for your help
NW

zackiedawg
05-17-2011, 08:18 AM
Camera #1 (Bought late 79s early 80s)Minolta XG-M
Minolta MD 50mm prime 1:2 filter opening 49mm
Tamron SP 60-300mm 1:3.8-5.4 filter opening 62mm
Minolta MC Tele ROKKOR-PF 135mm prime 1:2.8 filter opening 55mm
Albinar ADG 28mm 1:2.8 filter opening 52mm
Promaster Spectrum 7 Auto teleconverter 2x for M/MD

This camera is a manual focus system like the OP's...the lenses won't work on any DSLRs without clunky adapters and limited functionality. They would work very well on micro 4:3 cameras and Sony NEX system cameras via spacer adapters. The 50mm F2 lens is a decent average prime, and the 135mm F2.8 is a pretty nice lens. The Albinar CAN be good, if you have a good copy and 28mm F2.8 is a good length for APS-C crop bodies. The Tamron 60-300 is interesting - those can be hit or miss, but the focal length is good for wildlife/bird shooting. It's not a super-fast lens, but in good light might perform well. The 2x converter is nothing super special.

Camera #2 (Bought in 2001)Minolta Stsi -this one still works, just film is very hard to buy locally.
1-Are the lenses worth putting on a new body like the manuals?
or
2-Can they work with a DLSR body? And if yes, need adaptors or not?
3- Worth it or not?
Promaster AF 28-105mm 1:4-5.6 filter 62mm
Promaster AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 filter 55mm
Tele-Macro (1:4) infinity -1.5m

I'm not as familiar with these two lenses - but a brief look confirms that they are mostly rebadged lenses made by other manufacturers - they can be Sigma, Tamron, Cosina, or Tokina lenses, depending on the model and year. In your case, I believe both of the above are Tamron lenses. The 28-105 is slowish, but gets fairly favorable reviews from those who have them. The 100-300 is definitely a lens that needs a lot of light, but rates upper 3's and 4's on Dyxum, which puts it average to slightly above average. Probably nothing real special on either, unless you wanted a cheap entry into telephoto shooting. These will work perfectly normally on a Sony DSLR or SLT model with no adapters...they will autofocus and meter properly. If you were thinking of picking up a DSLR body anyway, then this might help sway the decision if you were intending to do any birding/wildlife as you'd have a starter lens already instead of spending another $500-1000 to buy one.

But no primes yet. Worth putting the old primes on a new body?
Or selling the old lenses and adding primes to this body as money allows?

Absolutely! Old primes are often as good as new primes, and sometimes better. A good piece of glass is a good piece of glass, no matter how old. I regularly shoot wildlife with a 23 year old Minolta lens that flat blows away 95% of the new stuff - the newest equivalent Sony lens for $1,500+ can't do any better, and isn't built as well. And it's always a fresh idea to sell old lenses, look to upgrade - maybe go from a 50mm F2 to a 50mm F1.4...or improve that slowish zoom to a faster, better one in the same focal length.

PaDisneyCouple
08-07-2011, 03:40 PM
I finally found my notes sheet from Dad. He read the post I printed out, and was interested in the Sony. I think it is because you can get by with just spacers, if we read correctly. Any idea how much the spacers run?
He also wanted me to ask if anybody had any recommendations among the models Zackiedawg mentioned.

Thanks!



(I'll be delivering his new laptop next week. Once he gets the internet again, perhaps he can come here and chat/learn)

zackiedawg
08-07-2011, 05:13 PM
Good timing - actually, with the old manual lenses, the best cameras to stick with would be any of the mirrorless interchangeable lens models - with Sony, that would be their NEX line. Up to now, all of the NEX models (NEX3, NEX5, NEXC3) were similar in design, using a very nice high-res LCD screen that tilts for shooting at angles. They don't have viewfinders - this doesn't bother some folks, but does irk a few others. It would be worth his trying them out to see if shooting with the viewfinder on his manual lenses is something hard to adapt to, or if he'd be comfortable with it.

But the reason the timing is good - Sony will be very shortly announging their enthusiast level NEX model, the NEX7 - this one will be similar to the NEX5, but will also include an electronic viewfinder (for those folks who can't get used to shooting with LCD panels, or those who just like having a viewfinder) built into the body - so you can shoot with the viewfinder or the LCD. And the new NEX5 replacement, likely to be called the NEX-C5, will apparently have an external viewfinder attachment made available for it - so if your father tries out the NEX cameras and is at all uncomfortable using only the LCD to frame and focus, there are two additional models coming that will offer viewfinders to solve that issue.

As for the adapters, there are some cheap ones available (usually around $24 - 35 or so), and brand shouldn't matter much since they are all just metal rings - I have had good luck with ones from Rainbow Imaging, but most seem to all be about the same quality-wise. You'd want the ones called Minolta MD to NEX converter. They are readily available on Amazon, eBay, and other places.

saintstickets
08-07-2011, 07:54 PM
My list is not nearly as extensive as others especially when I made these purchases I was a newlywed so cost was a BIG factor (still is after all these years too :lmao:) -

Minolta XG-1 camera with a Minolta Auto 132X flash
Lens:
Minolta MD ROKKOR-X, 45mm, 1:2, 49
Kamero Auto 135mm, f=135mm, 1:2.8, 55
Vivitar Auto Telephoto, 135mm, 1:2.8, 55, M/MD

They're not doing me any good so if anyone is interested in the bunch, pm me.


zackiedawg - I am thinking about getting the Sony Alpha A55. What are your thoughts about this vs a Canon EOS Rebel T3i? TIA for your response.

zackiedawg
08-08-2011, 09:07 AM
The A55 is a pretty slick little camera - super fast, small and light, image quality with that sensor is about as good as you'd ever need - I'd consider the A55 & T3 to definitely be on par for overall image quality - most of the top entry level cams regardless of manufacturer are all pretty much even - it comes down to feel in your hand, controls, and particular features. The A55 is of course faster in burst mode, if you need that ability - and the live view system is vastly superior.

I personally tend to stick with the larger body Alphas, like the A580 - but that comes down to how it fits in my hands - the smaller bodies don't work as well for me as I have large hands. It's really the main thing that keeps me from the A33/55 pair - and the same reason I can't get along well with any Canon entry-level body, or any Pentax body, as they tend to be smaller too. My best fits are with the larger Sony and Nikon bodies, which have larger, fatter grips and more weight.

GrumpyGoat
08-09-2011, 10:56 PM
I just got off the phone with Dad. Here's what I've found out:

The 35mm camera: Minolta SRTSC-II

Lens 1: Minolta, MD ROKKOR-X 45mm 1:2

Lens 2: Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm 1:3.5 Macro Focusing Zoom VMC (of G- having trouble reading it, he said). O (with a slash through it) 62mm

Lens 3: Minolta, MD 50mm 1:1.7 O (with a slash through it) 49mm (Dad said this was the one he used at our wedding)


I asked him where he keeps his stash of APO G lenses, and he just laughed. Guess he didn't want to give that out over the phone. :lmao:

Just a note for future reference: The little symbol with the number following it indicates the filter size in millimeters.

I shot for years with a Minolta X-700 and several MD lenses. When I finally decided my eyesight wasn't up to manual focus lenses any longer, I discarded my entire Minolta kit and switched to the Canon EOS system. I haven't looked back since. I eventually donated the Minolta gear to the photography program at one of the local high schools.

saintstickets
08-10-2011, 03:45 PM
GrumpyGoat - Side note...love your avatar of Walter from the Jeff Dunham show. Did you notice how much he looks like VP Joe Biden? :lmao: