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11/30/08

 

The Minolta AF 24-50mm F/4 lens review has been updated with full frame results.  It's not a bad little lens, but there're better choices in my opinion.  I'm planing on updating the Minolta AF 24mm F/2.8, Minolta/Sony 28mm F/2.8, Minolta AF 35-70mm F/4, and the Sony 24-105mm F/3.5-4.5 during the month of December.

 

I've added the two new lenses from Sony to the "Sony lens chart" page.  If you're interested in all the specifications, you'll have to look in the "shop Carl Zeiss lenses" link or "shop G series lenses" link, not the regular lens pages at SonyStyle.com.  I'm a little surprised that Sony made the 70-400mm F/4-5.6 Teleconverter compatible, but as you'll see, there will be no auto-focus.  Based on my own review of using teleconverters on a zoom lens, the 2.0x will be worthless, but that's easily predictableI also have massively updated the "coming soon" page, so check that out and see what kind of work I've got ahead of me!  The lenses are not put in order of review, so I'll let you know what's coming up next. 

 

Speaking of the next review, this time it'll be the Sony 24-70mm F/2.8 CZ.  Since I just finished a couple of fast medium zooms I thought I might end the series with the most recent model and see how it stands up to the old models.  On a side note; I added all the upcoming lens reviews to the "lens reviews" page, which are listed in red.Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving weekend.  I had some leftover pizza and a can of Schlitz, OK, not the most exciting thing on the menu, but I'm not a "big feast" kind of person.  

 
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11/26/08 
 

I have the Konica Minolta AF 28-75mm F/2.8 (D) review ready.  This lens produces sharp centers, even at F/2.8, but the image periphery is soft unless stopped down hard, especially on a full frame camera.  If you're using an APS-C body, you might consider the Sigma 18-50mm F/2.8, which would give a better zoom range in my opinion, and may give better results depending on: Sigma quality control, which is bad, if you buy one, plan on sending your lens back to get it corrected.  I've sent all but one Sigma back at least once, and they've corrected the problems (usually sharpness) quickly.  For full frame users, the same story, but slightly worse.  If you only care about the central area of the image, this lens is very good, and is better at flare and ghosting control than the much more expensive Minolta AF 28-70mm F/2.8 G just tested.

 

october08/km2875kit.jpg
Click for review.

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11/23/08

 

Back by popular demand is another installment of "Odds and ends" of the day.  This time I've posted a few shots from my hikes this past couple of weeks in the local mountains. The page has some fall color and a few weird shots as well.  All the images were taken with the ever-present Panasonic FX100 pocket camera.  This camera is much more useful than my A900, which sits on the shelf waiting for the "big important jobs" and whatever.  They say the best camera is the one you have with you.  I've actually packed my A700 a time or two, but it's too inconvenient to pull out of the pack for those quick shots. 
 
I'm finishing up the KM 28-75mm review, and should have that ready by mid-week.  

october08/buttlys3.jpg
Click for odds and ends look.

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11/21/08 

 

It looks like my prediction (last entry below) was right.  Sony has made the price cuts permanent, and then some.  They've added even more price cuts in just the last couple of days.  They quietly lowered the 500mm F/8 reflex $50 to $649.  Also changed from earlier in the week is the 100mm F/2.8 macro, now $589 instead of $599---weird!  Sony has taken the strike through "original price" out of most lens listings. Camera bodies had one additional cut, the A700 has been lowered $100 to a great bargain of $999.  I noticed the HVL-36AM flash is no longer listed on SonyStyle.com, that was the entry level flash unit, and seems odd to remove it entirely and not replace it.  Additionally, the vertical grips for the A900 and A700 have been slashed $100 each, now get the grip for your A700 for $249, or $279 for the A900.  The grip for the A900 has just started shipping, so they may be sensing problems already.  Don't start quaking in your boots people, let's wait and see what happens in the next couple of months.

 

I have the full frame results for the KM 17-35mm F/2.8-4 finished up.  Things are about what you'd expect, like real soft corners opened up at the wide end, and plenty of ghosts and coma.  The price is the good part though.  If you keep this lens out of the sun, you'll be ok.  I added some bokeh examples towards the top of the page if you're interested.

 

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11/20/08 

 

It looks like the Sony (DSLR/accessories) unilateral pricing policy (June '08) is making the executives sweat at night, and in an effort to avoid following in the footsteps of Konica Minolta, they've lowered the prices on most camera bodies, and nearly half of their lenses.  I've always thought Sony high-end lenses and accessories were over-priced, and it looks like Sony agrees with me.  Maybe they visit my site!  Since I'm not on their payroll, I don't have to worry about being cut-off from their loaners and junkets by stating my opinion.  Check out the price reductions below, which come from the SonyStyle.com site.   B&H photo, and Adorama are both using the dubious "instant rebate" on the price reductions, but based on past experiences, and what the Sony website is doing, the price cuts are permanent.  Only one "DT" lens gets a lower price, the 11-18mm F/4.5-5.6.

 

* 11-18mm F/4.5-5.6, $599  ↓ $50  (still $75 high)

* Both Teleconverters, 1.4x, 2.0x, $399 ↓ $50  (still $100 high)

* 100mm F/2.8 macro, $599 ↓  $50  (still $100 too high)

* 50mm F/2.8 macro, $399, ↓  $50  (about right)

* 70-200mm F/2.8 G, $1699, ↓  $100  (still $100 too high)

* 70-300mm F/4.5-5.6, $749, ↓  $50  (good price)

* 35mm F/1.4, $1199, ↓  $100 (about right)

* 16mm F/2.8 fisheye, $749, ↓  $50  (still $100 too high)

* 20mm F/2.8, $509 ↓ $50  (still $50 too high)

* 135mm F/1.8 CZ, $1299, ↓  $100  (still $150 too high)

* 85mm F/1.4 CZ, $1199, ↓  $100  (about right)

* 135mm F/2.8 STF, $1199, ↓  $100  (about right)

* 28mm F/2.8, $199, ↓ $50  (good price)

 

Again, these are all the lenses that Sony is having trouble selling.  The first dollar amount is the new retail price, the down arrow indicates how much the price was lowered, and then I add my personal opinion after that.  I'm not trying to kick Sony when they're down.  I've always said Sony camera bodies are very competitively priced, now it appears they're trying to adjust their ambitions against reality. 

 

Oddly, the 300mm F/2.8 is apparently selling briskly at $6000, they seem to be on continuous back-order.  I would've thought $4000 as a fair price.  I guess I'm wrong.  I'm surprised at the $50 reduction of the new 70-300mm SSM, I thought the old price was a deal.  Also, the two Carl Zeiss primes are not flying off the shelves as expected.  This all may be due to current economic conditions, we shall see.

 

Camera body prices; Sony A200 two lens kit, $549, Sony A700 body only, $1099, Sony A350 body only, $649, all good prices.

 

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11/14/08
 

Check out the latest lens review, the Minolta AF 28-70mm F/2.8 G.  On the A700, the lens turned in a stellar performance.  Full frame results are similar, with more light fall-off, distortion, and corner softness, but not enough to worry about.  The only troublesome issue is flare and ghosting, which is very strong.  You'll have to block the sun with your hand when the sun is close to the image, when the sun (or any bright light) is part of the image, you're pretty much SOL.  I've noted in the review if you want great pictures of shots which include the sun, as in a sunset, you should use the Sony kit lens, as it's about as good at controlling flare and ghosting as it gets.  I threw in a comparison shot also.

 

Next up will be full frame results using the Konica Minolta AF 17-35mm F/2.8-4.  This is another lens which has great difficulty controlling flare/ghosting. 

 

The next full lens review will be the Konica Minolta AF 28-75 F/2.8, you see these on eBay selling for $350-$450, about half of the G lens on the right.  I thought the timing would be good as I can compare it to the Minolta AF 28-70mm F/2.8 G and see how close they are optically.  Build quality is not even close, but AF speed and flare control may raise some eyebrows.  Look for that review in a week or so.

october08/2870ftsdhdsm.jpg
Click for review page.

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11/9/08 

 

Since the Sony 50mm F/1.4 lens review is the most popular page on the site, (I think I was the first one to review it a couple of years ago) I thought I'd post the full frame results as quickly as possible in case folks might be thinking about a stocking stuffer for themselves next month.  Bokeh and coma are very similar to the results of the latest lens review, the Minolta AF 28mm F/2.  I've posted both APS-C and full frame results for coma, plus light fall-off, corner sharpness, bokeh and distortion for full frame at the bottom of the page just like the latest review.   Check out the updated full frame Sony 50mm F/1.4 lens review here.

 

Next up, the Minolta AF 28-70mm F/2.8 G lens. 

 
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11/7/08 
 
By golly I finally finished the Minolta AF 28mm F/2 review, only a month late!  Sorry people, but blame it on Sony for being ahead (for once) on a release date---A900!  Speaking of which, I got the latest update for ACDSee pro 2.5 which handles the A900 ARW files, and found it gives better results than Image data converter, but not as good as ACR.  I also found the Minolta 28mm F/2 lens to be nearly flawless with the APS-C format, and almost as good with full frame, though you'll see more light fall-off and softer corners, but ehhh, big deal.  It's very sharp in the centers at F/2.8 through F/11.  The only drawback with this lens is the horrendous coma at F/2, check out the sample crops I have in the review.  It also suffers a little from flare and ghosting, but most of that can be prevented by using your hand to block the sun.  This is a perfect lens for inside stuff like museums and entertainment venues.
 
One last item; I'll be putting the full frame results at the bottom of each lens review page (separately) to avoid any confusion with results from the APS-C bodies, and then I'll only post samples which show significantly different results, such as light fall-off, corner sharpness etc.
 

october08/m28f2box3.jpg
Click for review.

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11/2/08 


Looks like I've wrapped up work on the A900 review.   Check out the latest entry, which is a comparison of results between Sony's Image data converter SR 3, and Adobe's Lightroom 2.1 with ACR 4.6.   I will say that Lightroom is light years ahead of Sony when it comes to RAW processing.  Check out the last comparison on the page and see how a JPEG with a little negative exposure compensation looks better than a RAW conversion using IDC.   Go to the bottom of the page to check out all this and more.  The page is long and may take awhile to load, so dial-up users please be patient.

 

Thoughts about the Sony A900.  My sensor is already dirty, time for a cleaning.  No dust reduction on the A900, though it didn't seem to work on my A700.  Funny, but I've never looked at the top mounted LCD, not even once while out shooting!  Could it go the way of the eye start auto-focus?

 

Initially, I thought I'd be using the A700 for most normal work, and the A900 for real important stuff.  That's changed now.  The A900 focuses more accurately, but not by much, and the weight and size differences are negligible.  I also like the fact that I have plenty of room for cropping an image, though file sizes are awfully large.  The differences between telephoto and macro shots are slim, (see review) so why be concerned with two cameras?  The viewfinder is great, it's also slightly brighter than my Maxxum 7000, probably due to the focus screen.  You don't notice just how great it is until you go back and look through your APS-C model!

 

Obviously, I'm still using the A700 for lens reviews, and I have a load of reviews coming up which will include the full frame results.

 

october08/origsml.jpg
Over-exposed RAW
october08/lrfinsm.jpg
After adjustments