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Old Jan 30, 2008, 3:00 PM   #1
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[align=center]First a little background as I am new to this site:[/align]
I've researched my little brain out the past couple of weeks and have decided on buying the A700 when my tax check arrives. This will be my very first ever SLR camera and I'm very excited!

[align=center]What will I be using this camera for:[/align]
1. A photography class I plan to take in the summer just for fun.

2. Photos of friends and family indoor and out for gatherings.

3. VACATIONS! I love to travel and have taken countless photos already with my point and shoot Sony T10 cam of architecture, wild life, and over water shots as I enjoy cruising on big ships and needless to say the point and shoot just isn't cutting it anymore.

4. I am interested in blowing up shots as well for my own art.


I'm thinking of buying the 18-200mm standard zoom Sony lens as a kit w/the cam as it is has been marked down at sonystyle.com.

The other lens I thought would be good for the photography class as the classes I've read about requires that students have a 50mm non zoom lens is the SAL-50F14. I believe this will be a lens I'll use for shots in more dim lighting such as indoor parties/gatherings as well as it has an aperture of 1.4.

Has anyone here had experience with the Tamron AF70-300mm F/4-5.6 Macro Lens? It has good reviews on amazon.com but I'm unsure if I'll need it....any advice?

Any recommendations on a teleconverter lens for any of these lens?

What would be the best lens for capturing whales on film? Is this where one should use a wide angle lens?

Since I'll be taking shots over water often, what filters would you recommend if any? Are they worth it?


THANKS IN ADVANCE!!!!!
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Old Jan 30, 2008, 6:23 PM   #2
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Congratulations on your decision and welcome!

I'm sure you'll absolutely love the A700 based on the feedback I've seen here. I have the now defunct Konica Minolta 5D which shares some generational DNA with the A700. I can say the 5D (really, any DSLR) has made me a much better photographer and I'm sure you'll see the same , if not better, results with the new Sony. Also, I might add that this Forum has made me a better photographer. This is definitely the place to get the most up-to-date info and opinions.

I'm certainly no expert, but I think I can help with some of you questions. First, you may or may not be aware that any AF lens ever made by Minolta will fit the Sony Alpha DSLR. There are thousands of lenses available on the used market. Not as many bargains as before, but still there none the less. That might open your options up if you're ok with used lenses. I have bought several and have had great success. JimC has probably had more success than anybody aquiring used lenses and I'm sure he'll be glad to give you some insight. Check out E-Bay, Keh.com, and Adorama.com. I've purchase from all three with great results.

For your 50mm prime lens, you might want to consider a used Minolta 50mm 1.7. A lot less expensive than the Sony 50mm 1.4, but arguably just as good. BTW, you can check out user ratings at Dyxum.com. A great resource for Minolta/Sony lens ratings.

I have a Tamron 28-300mm and a Tamron 90mm macro. The super zoom isn't the sharpest lens but it does the job. I think you'll find the same for the 18-200mm Sony you're speaking of. Actually, if you have the budget you might want to look at the Sigma 50-500mm for the whale shots. It rates very high for such a super zoom. Yes, it's BIG and EXPENSIVE, but you get what you pay for. I've never done any whaling, but unless you're REALLY close I would imagine you'll want something that brings you in quite a bit.

I wish you luck and hope I've helped!
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Old Jan 30, 2008, 10:42 PM   #3
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Chicagogirlie wrote:
Quote:
2. Photos of friends and family indoor and out for gatherings.
I have a Tamron 17-50/2.8 that I use for this purpose. It is quite a useful range, and the f/2.8 aperture works well for low light photography. If you can do it, I suggest you get the Tamron 17-50/2.8 instead of the kit lens. You'll lose the range from 50 to 70mm, but the kitlens is pretty dark at that range anyway.

Chicagogirlie wrote:
Quote:
3. VACATIONS! I love to travel and have taken countless photos already with my point and shoot Sony T10 cam of architecture, wild life, and over water shots as I enjoy cruising on big ships and needless to say the point and shoot just isn't cutting it anymore.
The Tamron 17-50/2.8 is a good choice for architecture too.For wildlife, you'll want something longer. There isn't anything really good in Sony's current arsenal (unless you've got money to burn), but there is a very good lens that Minolta made, the 70-210/4 'Beercan', that will work nicely. I've also got one of these. They are available on eBay and through KEH.com, and you might be able to find one at Adorama or B&H.

Chicagogirlie wrote:
Quote:
I'm thinking of buying the 18-200mm standard zoom Sony lens as a kit w/the cam as it is has been marked down at sonystyle.com.
I think that would be a mistake. I had the Minolta version of that lens. It has significant geometric distortion at the wide end, significant chromatic aberration at the long end, and is soft through out its range. Superzoom lenses are too much of a compromise, but the best of the breed seems to be the Tamron 18-250 and it's Sony twin.

Chicagogirlie wrote:
Quote:
The other lens I thought would be good for the photography class as the classes I've read about requires that students have a 50mm non zoom lens is the SAL-50F14. I believe this will be a lens I'll use for shots in more dim lighting such as indoor parties/gatherings as well as it has an aperture of 1.4.
The 50/1.4 is a fine lens, but a less expensive lens thatmay be just as good is the Minolta 50/1.7 that DrChris pointed out. I also have one of these and am pleased with it.


Chicagogirlie wrote:
Quote:
Any recommendations on a teleconverter lens for any of these lens?
I recommend that you not use teleconverters unless you have to. Teleconverters introduce additional optical elements into the lens system, and usually result in lower image quality. If you really need one, you should avoid the generic'4 elements in 4 groups' 2X teleconverters. The teleconverters with either 6 or 7 elements, or the matched teleconverters,are less bad. For a good introduction to teleconverters, see http://www.dyxum.com/lenses/TC/index.asp

Chicagogirlie wrote:

Quote:
What would be the best lens for capturing whales on film? Is this where one should use a wide angle lens?
I'd say that, unless there are a lot of whales, or a really big one is close, you'll need a telephoto zoom lens, not a wide angle. The aforementioned 'Beercan' would be a good choice for that task.

Chicagogirlie wrote:
Quote:
Since I'll be taking shots over water often, what filters would you recommend if any? Are they worth it?

You might try a Graduated Neutral Density filter, but I think a 'must have' filter would be a Circular Polarizing filter to reduce reflected light from the water's surfaceand increase contrast in the sky. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photographic_filter

Good luck, and come back and show us what you've been up to.
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Old Jan 31, 2008, 11:11 AM   #4
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TCav already told you about the 16-50 from Tamron. Depending on when your class is you might want to wait for availability and pickup Sigmas 50-150 f/2.8. In the 35mm world this will give you the equivelent coverage of 24 - 225mm. Or if you don't mind the hole from 50 - 70 you could get either Tamron's or Sigma's 70-200 f/2.8.

And as already mentioned the Minolta 50 f/1.7 is a great buy!

So summary if I were in your shoes knowing what I know now.

My first 2 lenses would be

Tamron 16-50 f/2.8
Sigma 50-150 f/2.8 or Tamron or Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 (I'd probably go with the latter)

Go ahead an pickkup the 50 f/1.7 You can pick it up attached to a used Maxxum body for less than you can get it by itself some times.

Then later get the 18-250. I don't have one yet, but I keep eyeing it. I may order it with an A200 to use for vacation and such where I don't want to cary around my larger heavier kit.
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Old Feb 1, 2008, 12:32 PM   #5
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Chicagogirlie,

Kberntsen is right. I picked up my 50mm 1.7 for $40 with an old Maxxum 7000 still attached to it. I gave the camera body to my sister-in-law. She still likes to use something called "film". The lens by itself is going for about $80 -100. Some people have an old Maxxum film SLR and do not realize the sought after lenses like the 50mm and the 70-210 f4 are worth more than the camera. You gotta just be willing to search. Here's a listing on E-Bay that is worth looking at: http://cgi.ebay.com/Minolta-Maxxum-7...QQcmdZViewItem
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Old Feb 1, 2008, 2:54 PM   #6
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I agree with both kberntsen and DrChris, in that, you can often pick up some real bargains from people who don't know what they've got. But I caution you that a lot of the old Minolta Maxxum film cameras listed on eBay (and the like) come with other lenses like the 28-80 and various third party lenses that aren't worth the postage it would take to get them. So be very careful to read all the fine print.
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Old Feb 1, 2008, 3:25 PM   #7
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Hello all,

DrChris, TCav, kberntsen...THANKS SO MUCH! I appreciate all of the recommendations and referrals to other sites and to all of the different lenses.

I've been studying up on the lens you suggested at dyxum.com. What a great site by the way! I wish I would have know about it before trying to search for reviews from multiple places. How time consuming, but I do love doing research

I've decided on buying the just the A700 body and to buy theTamron 17-50 f/2.8. I'm going to hold off and buy the Minolta 50mm 1.4 or the 1.7 when I see a good deal on Ebay. I have some time before that photography class this summer which will allow me to shop around. Have any of you tried putting a T mount on your camera and using an Olympus Zuiko lens? I found a Zuiko 50mm 1.8 that my dad had used years ago in great condition. It's manual but I did read on the net somewhere that at least one person has had success w/their A700 and this lens after buying the T mount.



As for the zoom lens I think I'll be going for the "Beercan" 70-210 f/4. I'm curious though still about the the SAL18200 or the SAL 18250 in addition eventually. I know the Sony lenses will be much lighter but I would be sacrificing picture quality because of the aperture. Would this be the case in bright daylight shooting as well? I'm just afraid that on some of my hiking or excursions off the cruise ships the beercan and the Tamron 17-50...well it might be difficult to switch back and forth and to carry around for long periods of time since I am not the strongest female in the record books. That and I don't want to risk getting my equipment dirty while hiking.

I've decided not to go the route of a teleconverter. I'll just feel out whether I need more than 200mm of zoom and see what lenses would be best if so. Anyone have a reccomendation of any lenses that doesn't cost over 800 bux in this zoom range? I did see the Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 lens but it is out of my price range. If it's worth it maybe I'll save up for it. I also took a look at the Sigma 135-400mm f/4.5-5.6 which is more in my price range at $530. I've read that pics can still be sharp out to about 350mm but with wildlife it can be difficult. The reviews for the Minolta 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 aren't too shabby either.

Again, thanks a million!

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Old Feb 1, 2008, 3:33 PM   #8
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DrChris wrote:
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Chicagogirlie,

Kberntsen is right. I picked up my 50mm 1.7 for $40 with an old Maxxum 7000 still attached to it. I gave the camera body to my sister-in-law. She still likes to use something called "film". The lens by itself is going for about $80 -100. Some people have an old Maxxum film SLR and do not realize the sought after lenses like the 50mm and the 70-210 f4 are worth more than the camera. You gotta just be willing to search. Here's a listing on E-Bay that is worth looking at: http://cgi.ebay.com/Minolta-Maxxum-7...QQcmdZViewItem
Thanks for the heads up! I have my eye on it.
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Old Feb 1, 2008, 3:35 PM   #9
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TCav wrote:
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I agree with both kberntsen and DrChris, in that, you can often pick up some real bargains from people who don't know what they've got. But I caution you that a lot of the old Minolta Maxxum film cameras listed on eBay (and the like) come with other lenses like the 28-80 and various third party lenses that aren't worth the postage it would take to get them. So be very careful to read all the fine print.
Yes, I've dealt with Ebay for years and there are so many dealers on there that try to pull one over on people.
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Old Feb 1, 2008, 9:20 PM   #10
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Another wildlife lens combination I've seen recommended is the Sigma 100-300mm f/4 + teleconverter(s). It's over your budget but with this lens you might not need a beercan.

Check the review of the Canon mount version at http://www.photozone.de/Reviews/Cano...report--review

I use a Tamron 200-500mm for wildlife shots with my A100. I find it a difficult lens to use and don't seem to get many keepers. There again I'm not very skilled.
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