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Old Sep 15, 2009, 6:38 AM   #1
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I've came to appreciate this lens when I finally got the A900:
http://forums.steves-digicams.com/so...pt-secret.html

Here some more images from the lens after I have sometime to play with it this weekend:
http://forums.steves-digicams.com/wi...y-new-toy.html


-> As for action shots this combo will track the subject as long as you can hold the AF point (particularly tiny with a FF) on target:





Note the relatively very narrow DOF by the water:

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Old Sep 15, 2009, 8:41 AM   #2
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Doesn't seem to have the same sharpness and bokeh as the Bigma you were using in Nikon. In a vacuum these are nice shots, but don't look as good as the shots you've been posting with the D300 and bigma. What are your thoughts on how the two setups compare?
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Old Sep 15, 2009, 10:05 AM   #3
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It's a fixed (f/8) aperture Mirror (a.k.a., Reflex, a.k.a., catadioptric) lens. The Minolta and Sony 500mm Reflex lenses are the only AF mirror lenses made by any manufacturer. The advantage is that it's small, light and cheap (you can buy one for around $699 brand new and can find used ones for less), but I suspect NHL's is an older Minolta version, since I've seen him mention it before over the years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minolta...mm_Reflex_lens

So, it's not exactly the best choice for action (with the camera auto focusing at f/8, which means you'll probably need to stick with the double cross center AF point for best results), and bokeh can leave a lot to be desired from a mirror lens. There's really no way to compare it to other systems (as Canon, Nikon, Pentax, etc., don't have an AF lens like that one; as the Minolta/Sony 500mm f/8 is the only AF Reflex lens ever made).

Some of the photos he posted in this thread look pretty nice though (and he's got one showing how you get donut shaped bokeh from it, too -- as you tend to get from all mirror lenses):

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/wi...y-new-toy.html

Of course, he could always go with something like a used Minolta 600mm f/4 HS (high speed) AF lens, and you could use a 1.4x TC on it, too. B&H has a couple of them in stock right now. Here's one in 9+ condition (and they have one in 9 condition for less)

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._f_4_0_n_.html

But, then, he'd be lugging a lens weighing almost 14 pounds around and end up paying almost 10 times as much as you'd pay for a 500mm f/8 AF Mirror lens. LOL

You could also use a Bigma (but, on a full frame body like the A900, 500mm may be a bit short for birding).

Sony should also have a Super Telephoto lens offering soon (they had a mock up of it on display at PMA, but they haven't announced any details yet). Here are some photos someone took of it:

http://www.photographybay.com/2009/0...nses-up-close/
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Old Sep 15, 2009, 11:17 AM   #4
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Jim,

I guess you re-inforced my point which is: The A900 and this lens don't appear to be ideal tools for birding. IMO, if you're going to buy a pro camera I don't understand not using it with an equivelent quality lens. My reading of these threads was - look at the great results I'm getting using this setup. In my opinion I didn't think the results were up to par with results NHL has gotten with other equipment setups. I'm not knocking Sony here - just didn't think this particular gear combo produced results on par with other combos NHL has used.

As for arguing price of this lens - I don't comprehend the concept of paying for a full-frame professional camera but being budget conscious on the lens. I understand NHL already had this lens so I know why he used it - I'm simply referring to Jim's post where he mentioned the price tag as a benefit.

I'm much more curious to see how the Sony performs given equivelent quality of lens vs what NHL was getting with Nikon. It will be good to get some in-depth comparisons of how the two systems perform from someone actively using both systems. It's not too often you have people actively using high end DSLRs and lenses from two different systems.
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Old Sep 15, 2009, 11:30 AM   #5
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True. I did notice one comment NHL made about the camera's AF system in another thread:

Quote:
Actually the AF with the Reflex is quite fast and I'm amazed at how dark the twin f/2.8 AF sensor work on the A900: It can focus to the light of the only TV set in a darkened room where my 1DMrkII would hunt @ f/8 to no end
But, I don't know if he has lenses that are equivalent to the ones he has for his Nikon and Canon models. He did mention buying a Sony/Carl Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 as a kit with the A900. So, hopefully he'll comment some on how this model compares with his other cameras using similar lenses.

I think he's got a Minolta 85mm f/1.4G, too (he's mentioned it before in the past as a lens he used on Minolta 35mm SLR models).

Hopefully, he'll keep us posted on how this Sony camera compares as time passes with the lenses he has available for it.
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Old Sep 15, 2009, 11:56 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
I don't comprehend the concept of paying for a full-frame professional camera but being budget conscious on the lens. I understand NHL already had this lens so I know why he used it - I'm simply referring to Jim's post where he mentioned the price tag as a benefit.
It's not just the price tag either. It's the smallest and lightest 500mm Autofocus lens you can buy from any manufacturer (and it's stabilized on a Konica Minolta or Sony dSLR model). You have to take convenience (size/weight) into consideration, as not everyone wants to lug a large and heavy lens around. ;-)

Besides, I doubt NHL bought this camera for birding. But, we'll have to wait for him to tell us what he thinks of it.
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Old Sep 15, 2009, 12:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
It's not just the price tag either. It's the smallest and lightest 500mm Autofocus lens you can buy from any manufacturer (and it's stabilized on a Konica Minolta or Sony dSLR model). You have to take convenience (size/weight) into consideration, as not everyone wants to lug a large and heavy lens around. ;-)
When paired with a professional full-frame camera I don't agree with the size/weight argument. That argument holds more water if shots were taken with an entry level camera where you're targeting people who value size/weight/price more than quality. I don't think you'll find too many quality photographers who know how to use pro equipment who want that kind of reach but are willing to take the quality hit. So I think if you want to tout the size/weight of this lens as a selling point you need to show how it performs with the cameras the size/weight/price conscious are going to be using - which, without the same focus system, sensor or processor might have totally different results.
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Old Sep 15, 2009, 12:18 PM   #8
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Well... it may hold no merit to you. But, personally, I'd hate to lug a 14 pound lens around (like the Minolta 600mm f/4) to get better results. We'll have to wait for NHL to comment with his thoughts about it.
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Old Sep 15, 2009, 12:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
Well... it may hold no merit to you. But, personally, I'd hate to lug a 14 pound lens around (like the Minolta 600mm f/4) to get better results.
Jim, I realize youd hate to lug a large lens around. But you're not an owner of the A900, 1dsmkIII, D3 camera. In short, not the target market of the A900. From the forums I visit, people who are regularly shooting with pro bodies (and know how to use them) seem more interested in image quality than convenience. Now, if you were a pro body user who uses pro grade telephoto glass and you were saying "Id prefer the convenience of this lens vs. my heavier better quality lenses" then I'd buy it. But I've never heard a pro body user (with pro long glass experience) make that argument.

Normally if such a person wants convenience they're going to be using a smaller/lighter body in the first place - not a full frame DSLR.
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Old Sep 15, 2009, 12:36 PM   #10
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Yea, yea, yea. But, the entire idea of the posts NHL has made about this lens is that he's having fun with it. ;-)

If you're not having fun with a camera (because you're lugging lenses around weighing tens of pounds), what's the point (other than being paid well for pro photos, which doesn't appear to be NHL's primary goal with it)? ;-)

I've used pro bodies, and to be frank, I wouldn't want one for the camera I use more often (because of their size and weight).

That's one of the problems I see here in the forums. Members seem to forget that having a camera can be fun (with a lot of posts telling members that you can't capture photos without using a more expensive model costing a lot more than many members have budgeted). The Pentax forum is a notable exception (where members have a good time with budget lenses).

That's one of the things Steve has always tried to impress upon me (the forums are a place for members to have fun sharing their results, not for bashing one model against another, or making members feel bad because they don't have the required budget to get results as good as more expensive models). Sometimes I forget that (and go with the trend). But, I'll try to make an effort to think about the fun part more as time passes.
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