Happy New Year! As the first post for 2008, I thought I’d write a brief note on mounting all those beautiful vintage manual lenses on the Sony α 700, especially my Zuiko prime lenses and the other OM mount 3rd party lenses I own. Most people know by now that all the Minolta AF and most 3rd party AF lenses made since 1985 can be used on the Sony Alpha series cameras without any problem (luckily for us, Sony retained the Minolta A mount).

What’s not as well known is the fact that all the great old vintage lenses out there can be used on the Sony Alpha series cameras as well. There are T-mounts or other adapters available to mount older manual focus lenses to the Sony Alpha 700 (and the Sony Alpha 100, of course.)

There are many wonderful manual focusing lenses available everywhere – often for a few dollars, since most folks don’t know (or care) about the 3rd Party MANUAL focus lenses from the 60’s and 70’s – Vivitar, Kiron, Panagor, Soligor, Spiratone all made or marketed lenses for practically every camera mount, so there are a lot of choices, Of course, with the proper mount, you can also mount Canon, Nikon or Pentax M42 or K mount lenses. Personally, I favor my beautiful OEM Zuiko lenses… since they were originally built light and small, with superb optics and perfect for mounting on todays Digital SLRs.

There is just one thing to remember – whenever a lens is mounted on any AF camera, the camera usually recognizes the lens via the contacts at the back of the AF lens. Once the “lens mount check” is done, the camera recognizes the lens and communicates with it, allowing the shutter to operate. However, the old manual lenses have no contacts and thus there is nothing for the camera to recognize, so the shutter will not operate.

However, most cameras have an option buried deep within the documentation that tells you how to turn off the “lens check”. The Minolta AF/Sony FAQ has instructions for most of the Minolta AF models, but it’s not specific when it comes to the A700.

Here’s how to enable shutter operation on the Sony A700 with a manual lens mounted. On the Alpha 700 Menu, go to the Custom Menu #2 (the little Gear icon) and scroll down until you find a function called “Release w/o Lens” and change the Default to ENABLE (the default is DISABLE). Once that’s done, you can mount any lens, AF or Manual and the camera will meter and the shutter will fire normally.

Simple, huh? Thanks again, Sony and Minolta! I love my old lenses, and appreciate the backwards compatibility that permits the use of 60’s and 70’s optics on a modern Digital SLR.

By the way, if someone is wondering how to mount Zuiko lenses on the Sony Alpha DSLR, its simple. Bower makes an adapter
Bower Minolta AF-OM adapter
for mounting OM Zuiko lenses to Minolta AF or Sony Alpha bodies. It has a glass element, so it can provide Infinity focus. Its generally available for about $65 or so on ebay – look for “Minolta Maxxum AF OM adapter”. Here is an example of what the Bower adapter can do using a Zuiko 200mm f/4. I’ll post some pictures with other Zuikos on my Alpha 700 soon.

Note on Zuiko lenses: The Zuiko wide-angle primes have a little projection at the back of the lens that does not allow them to mount on the Bower adapter. I tested the 28mm f/3.5 and 35mm f/2.8. Since I dont have the 24mm or wider lenses, I can’t tell. However, I can use them with a 12mm extension tube – there’s no infinity focus, but they’re great for close-up or macrophotography. Of course, for greater magnification, one can use a 24mm or 36mm extension tube, or a combination. All my other Zuiko prime and Zoom lenses did not have any mounting problems with the Bower adapter. I was able to mount a 50mm f/1.8; 50mm f/1.4; 100mm f/2.8; 30-70mm f/4, 200mm f/4. 135mm f/2.8, 135mm f/3.5, 75-150mm f/4, 100-200mm f5, 300mm f/4.5. I also tested some 3rd party OM mount lenses – the Panagor 90mm f/2.8, Tokina 70-210mm f/3.5 etc. I’ll have some pictures posted soon.

text and images © 2008 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. Thank you for visiting olympuszuiko.

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