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Old Jul 20, 2004, 8:12 AM   #1
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Item: Minolta ACW-100 Wide Angle Converter

Yields a 22mm equivalent image when used on the D7i/A1/A2 cameras set at the 28mm focal length.

This converter has pluses and minuses.

The pluses first:

* It works without vignetting, yielding the equivalent of a 22mm focal length image. While the difference from 28mm to 22mm may not sound like much, the difference is significant in image coverage.

* The lens is of quality glass and sturdy metal construction.

* Image quality is excellent.

The minuses:

* The converter is NOT zoom through. Indeed, the lens must be used with the camera lens set at the 28mm setting and the macro switch engaged.

* The lens is large, about 89mm across the front, and fairly heavy.

* The lens does exhibit a small amount of barrel distortion, but not overly objectionable, and probably not noticable unless shooting things with vertical or horizontal lines, like buildings. But then the tilt needed to get the building into the frame would probably be of greater concern.

The Minolta instructions warn that the camera lens cannot and should not be zoomed while the converter lens is attached. I suspect that this is due mainly to the added weight.

In fact, the lens will allow shooting with the camera lens zoomed out to other focal lengths, and it appears to focus properly too. However, by the time you get to 200mm zoom, it looks like you are shooting through the bottom of a coke bottle. There is a circular 'clear' zone of correct focus, with the rest of the image being increasing smeared outwards. So the lens is definately not of a zoom through design.

Shooting with the macro switch off seemed to have no effect, so I suspect Minolta says to turn it on, only to prevent the lens from being zoomed and to prevent lens creep if the camera should be held lens down. Macro on or off does not seem to effect focus.

The converter has a 49mm screw thread, so it just screws onto the front of the camera lens. It also comes with a firmware update for the three cameras mentioned above. Notably absent is the original D7. The firmware update adds another item to the menu allowing the user to select if a converter lens is attached.

So, for anyone who wanted a real WA converter that does not vignette, this is the ticket. It is not unreasonably priced at about $160. The main drawback is the lack of zoom threw, necessitating the adding and removal of the converter if one wants to use the 22mm WA setting and any other focal length.

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