Sony and Minolta AF lenses on FS100 at

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Sony NXCAM NEX-FS100 CineAlta
An interchangeable lens AVCHD camcorder using E-Mount lenses.

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Old August 3rd, 2011, 02:26 PM   #1
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Sony and Minolta AF lenses on FS100

I'm rounding out my arsenal of lenses for the FS100 with a few new Minolta AF additions but wanted to share some of my finding on Sony lenses for those that are interested.
I already own nice copy of the Minolta AF 70-210 F4 am waiting for a MINOLTA AF 28-75mm f/2.8 (D)
MINOLTA AF 100mm f/2.8 SOFT to arrive (eBay purchases). The next lens I’m going to commit to is a Minolta AF 50mm F1.7 but that should be the least expensive of the bunch so I’m just waiting for a local one to show-up on craigslist.
The reason I'm going with Minolta glass is that I borrowed a bunch of Sony Alpha lenses and have to say that I feel that my 25 year old 70-210 is a better lens for video than any of the Alpha lenses – I just hope this stays true for the other Minolta lenses that I’m committing to.
Here are a few quick notes on the lenses I have tested so far. I’m not going to discuss image quality as there are lots of great resources online and what I really was concerned about is how would the lenses perform on a video camera, especially seeing many of the changes Sony made to the original Minolta lenses were to make them lighter for photographers. I’d prefer my lens to be metal, heavy, and have smooth ring action.
All of the lenses required the Sony LA-E1A Alpha to e-mount adapter. None of the lenses have aperture rings but the Sony FS100 was able to control the iris using the iris wheel on the body. Additional exposure control was done with the shutter speed.
None of the lenses worked with autofocus or autoexposure and the steadyshot was not available and greyed-out in the menu.

Sony 35mm 1.4 G
The 55mm front element doesn't rotate when focusing but the focus ring is smooth plastic on a mostly metal body and there is a small amount of play on the ring.

Sony 35mm 1.8 SAM DT
The 55mm front element doesn't rotate when focusing but it does extend from its plastic body. The lens is much lighter in weight than the G series lens. Like with the G series lens the focus ring is smooth but at least there is no play before it engages, although the focus ring requires a lighter touch and turns easier as there is less resistance. I like my rings to have a proper amount of resistance.

Sony 50mm 1.8 SAM DT
This lens has a very similar feel to the 35mm 1.8.

Sony 28-75 2.8 SAM
The 28-75 has a 67mm front element that doesn’t rotate when focusing but it does extend from its plastic body. Being a zoom lens most of the body is covered by a large rubber zoom ring and a medium sized rubber focus ring. The focus ring turns smoothly but the zoom ring, like an inexpensive tripod, suffers from sticktion and I was not able zoom in our out while filming.
Sony 70-200 2.8 G SSM
This is a very heavy and impressive looking lens and with a white barrel, lends itself to comparisons with some really nice Canon lenses. Unfortunately the look of the lens doesn’t mean it performs well as a video lens. There are two large rings – one for focus and the other for zoom. The focus ring doesn’t have limits and spins continuously like a fixed lens on a prosumer camcorder. The zoom ring is no better and like the 28-75, suffers from sticktion and it is impossible to smoothly make minor adjustments no matter how delicate your touch. The front element is 77mm and doesn’t rotate or extend.

Minolta AF 70-210 F4
For under $200, a used excellent condition copy of the legendary “beercan” lens costs about 1/10 of a new Sony 70-200 2.8 G but performs better when mounted on a video camera. It gets its “beercan” monikor because it has a similar shape to a can of beer, albeit a tall one. The 55mm front element both rotates and extends when focusing but the zoom lens does not impact the front element. The beercan has a smooth and solid metal body. The focus ring has ridges so it is very easy to feel your way to the front ring, unlike with the Sony primes, which have smooth plastic rings. The focus ring also has hard limits. What sets this lens apart from the newer Sony lenses is that the focus ring is smooth and exactly what you would expect on expensive cine lens, costing thousands more than even the Sony G series and Carl Zeiss lenses.

I’ll update this as I get more lenses to test. My MINOLTA AF 28-75mm f/2.8 (D) and MINOLTA AF 100mm f/2.8 SOFT are supposed to arrive in 5-7 days.
Shawn Lam is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 4th, 2011, 04:28 PM   #2
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Re: Sony and Minolta AF lenses on FS100

I am sorry to say but most of the Alpha lenses are far better than the old Minolta glass because the Minolta lenses were designed for film recording whereas the newer Alpha glass is designed for digital recording. One major area that illustrates this difference is CA where the film lenses have far more CA than the digital glass. I have been a Sony Alpha shooter for 4+ years and have owned the A200, A350 and A900 in addition to the Zeiss 24-70, Zeiss 135, Sony G 70-200 and a few other cheap lenses in addition to renting many more. My favorite is the Sony STF 135 as its bokeh is the best I have ever seen; although, the Zeiss 135 is close but has a lot of longitudinal CA. I have done extensive research on Alpha & Minolta lenses and one thing that I found from the Sony purchase of Minolta is that all of the lenses Sony converted to Alpha from Minolta are inferior to newly designed Sony lenses in addition to being inferior to comparative glass from CaNikon. One of the best examples of inferior glass is the Sony G 35mm f1.4 which was not changed from Minolta and is the worst $1300 lens I have ever seen.

The newer elements and lens coating designed for digital sensors make a huge difference on digital cameras, whether they be DSLRs or video cameras. The new 35mm 1.8 is better in every and only costs a few hundred $$.

Another issue is all of these lenses are not parfocal. For older lenses, the Nikon 80-200 2.8 is parfocal in addition to performing very well. There is also the Nikon 28-75 2.8 and a few other lenses.

The undeniable fact about SLR lenses for video is that you must make compromises. There are workflow compromises and sometimes image quality compromises. However, I can easily work around the workflow issues but there is no way to work around image quality issues.
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