Bower Adapter


I finally got around to visiting the GW Masonic temple in Alexandria – it’s a shame that I haven’t been able to get over there, since I work close by – but DC traffic is hard to deal with on any given day. I visited on Martin Luther King Day – since it’s a Holiday, there was very light traffic. However, it was COLD!

It was about 28 F at about 4 pm on Jan 21 – the wind chill must have been much lower, but I was inspired by the previous night’s game between the Giants and the Packers playing in -3F, -24 wind chill. If they can play in such severe weather, I should be able to get out and take a few photographs, right? After all, it would only take about 15 minutes. Brrrr.

This monument has been getting a lot of interest from the tourist crowd since it featured prominently in Nicholas’ Cages thriller “National Treasure” – since then, people have been adding it their itinerary when visiting DC, even though it’s a few miles away. On the bright side, they get to visit old town Alexandria and the cool shops on King Street.

I was using the Zuiko 35-70mm f/4 lens on the Sony A700 with the Bower Minolta AF-OM adapter – The lens is an apparent 52mm-105mm lens on the Sony Alpha, and it’s great for general photography and portraits. It’s also a good lens for Architecture as well – but only if you are able to stand back a reasonable distance.

For street architectural photography, I’d still recommend a 35mm lens ( in the case of the A700, it would have to be a 24mm lens to get the apparent 36mm equivalent). In this case, I lucked out since the temple has a lot of open space around it, even beyond the parking lot. It’s easy enough to get far enough back to get a decent full length shot.

At 4pm however, the front of the Masonic Temple is in shade. The rear and side were nicely illuminated. It’s advisable to go there in the morning hours to get a well illuminated front elevation shot.

GW Masonic Temple, Alexandria, VA

GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA

GW Masonic Temple, Alexandria, VA
GW Masonic Temple, Alexandria, VA

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 DSLR and Zuiko 35-70mm f/4 lens with a Bower Minolta AF-OM lens Adapter. ISO 200, 1/125 at f/5.6



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olympus/zuiko by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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 olympus/zuiko.

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A while ago, I had written about a Bower made Minolta AF to OM adapter that I was able to use on my Minolta 800si/Sony Alpha 700 to mount Zuiko and other 3rd party OM mount lenses.

The Bower adapter is actually a weak teleconverter since it has a glass element that permits infinity focus – since I got the A700, I have been checking out all my manual focus prime and zoom lenses – Zuiko, Vivitar, Sigma, Soligor, Panagor and Kiron primes and zooms. Most of them fit on the Alpha 700 without any problems – with the exception of the Zuiko 28mm f/3.5 and the Zuiko 35mm f/2.8 (more on this in a future post)

There was a very interesting discussion on the DP Reviews forum regarding the use of manual focus Olympus OM Zuiko lenses on the Sony Alpha series cameras. I had participated in the discussion and shared the information I had about mounting manual focus lenses on the Sony Alpha 700. However, the DP Forum’s website seems to have had a technical failure, and about 5 days worth of forum topics have been lost. All the reply postings have vanished – except for the question itself. Bummer.

Zuiko/OM lenses on the Sony Alpha Part II



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olympus/zuiko by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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 olympus/zuiko.

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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This work by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

I mounted the Soligor 500mm mirror on the Sony A700 using the Minolta AF-Olympus OM Bower adapter. The Soligor is a T-mount lens, but I’ve been using it with an Olympus T-mount for so long, the ring is hard to get off. I just mounted the Minolta AF mount adapter right on to the lens and then mounted it on the A700.

The light was poor, and since I was shooting in Manual Mode, I was using ISO 200. The slow shutter speed I was using was no help. Even though the image stabilization helps out, I’d recommend that with the 500mm lens, a shutter speed of at least 1/250, even with the anti-shake.

The bokeh from the lens did not show the characteristic mirror lens “donut” shape, but that’s probably because the diffuse light from the overcast sky did not cause any bright spots or highlights.

The pictures aren’t great, but I hope to do better the next time. Keeping in mind that the Soligor C/D 500mm behaves like an apparent 750mm lens, the possibility of being able to hand-hold the camera is in itself pretty remarkable.


Backyard Critters- Soligor/Sony A700
Backyard Critters – Soligor/Sony A700
Backyard Critters- Soligor/Sony A700
Backyard Critters – Soligor/Sony A700
Backyard Critters- Soligor/Sony A700
Backyard Critters- Soligor/Sony A700
Backyard Critters- Soligor/Sony A700

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 dSLR and Soligor C/D 500mm f/8 mirror lens 1/80 at f/8, ISO 200m White Balance at Cloudy.


text and images © 2007 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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I went ahead and purchased the Sony Alpha 700 today, along with the Sony 18-200mm lens. I toyed with the idea of purchasing it from the Sony store, but finally ended up buying it at the local Best Buy since they had the exact same price.

I had seriously looked at the Alpha 100 earlier this year, but was put off by the fact that it looked (and felt) so plasticky and flimsy. The body was made in Malaysia and the little kit lens they were bundling it with (the Sony 18-70mm SAL1870) was made in China. Not exactly the stuff dreams are made of. However, the fact that I own several Minolta AF mount lenses, both Maxxum and third party, had already narrowed my choices in DSLRS down to the Sony or its Konica Minolta predecessor.

For a while, the great difference in price between the α 100 and the α 700 did not make sense to me, and I had put it down to the “brand new product” hype, but I was impressed with the fact that the Alpha 700 had a much more sturdy body – it has an aluminum chassis and a magnesium alloy body – there is a great picture on the DP review site. I finally felt confident that this camera would be able to handle all my Minolta AF lenses, as well as my heavy manual lenses.

Now, anyone who knows me and is familiar with my Olympuszuiko blog knows I am a fan of Olympus Zuiko lenses. I wanted a DSLR that could could handle my Zuikos and T-mount lenses. Zuiko lenses are traditionally lightweight, but my other Olympus mount lenses are not. The Vivitars, Kiron, Panagor, Spiratone, Panagor, Toyo and Soligor lenses quite heavy.

Other than the mount, the Alpha 700 has very little in common with the Alpha 100. It looks and feels different, and I’ve heard that there are no common components used. The Alpha 700 has a real optical prism, and a newly designed CMOS sensor in contrast to the Alpha 100’s Penta Mirror and noise prone sensor. I am sure that Sony’s next camera (the Alpha 900 will be full frame and have a lot more pixels, but that’s for the professional. As an amateur, I have trouble justifying even the purchase of the Alpha 700!

Which begs the question – why did I purchase the Alpha 700 now, when I know that the price will be several hundred dollars cheaper in a couple of months? My original plan was to buy it during the 08 Easter sales or maybe even during the Father’s day sales. My reasoning was simple… the Alpha 700 is currently made in Japan. I am afraid that Sony will switch the manufacturing to Malaysia or China in order to realize the savings that will enable them to drop the price. I have a great deal of respect for the ability of Chinese manufacturers, and I know that Sony has their own assembly plant in China. But I am willing to pay full price for the “Made in Japan” version.

All in all, I’m okay with the price. The advertised price on the Sony site was $1599 for the 700 body with the Sony 18-200mm lens (27-300mm equivalent on 35mm). I am sure I will wince at the price I paid in a few months, but such is life (and consumer electronics). I remember when the Konica Minolta 7D was selling for $1600 in 2004 with all of 6 megapixels.

As for the Sony Alpha 700, Best Buy matched the price on the Sony website. The best part? The sales personnel – they know so little about the advanced features that they just let me alone to happily fiddle with the cameras. I purchased a Lexar 2Gig Compactflash Card – I figure that should be good enough for now. Add the taxes etc, and it came to a pretty penny.

Sigh. I love my manual cameras and film, but considering the number of rolls of film I shoot, it is getting prohibitively expensive.

Pardon the terrible lighting, I’ll have some better pictures on here soon.


Sony Alpha 700
Sony Alpha 700
Sony Alpha 700
Sony Alpha 700

Sony Alpha 700
Sony Alpha 700
Sony Alpha 700

Text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. All product names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. Thanks for visiting olympuzuiko, have a great day!

Here it is, in black and white – the new Sony Alpha 700 specification sheet! The compatibility with Minolta lenses was never in doubt, but for some reason, they never gave it wide publicity with the Sony Alpha 100.

Maybe they were trying to push the new Sony branded lenses over the zillions of cheap, wonderful Minolta Maxxum AF lenses out there. The Minolta lenses have a crop factor of 1.5x on the Sony DSLR though, since the CCD on the Alpha series is a bit smaller than the 35mm format size. A Minolta AF 50mm becomes a 75mm on the Sony, and so on.

Third party A mount lenses should also continue to work fine, although I recall that there were some reports of problems with a few Sigma made lenses on the Sony Alpha 100. Hopefully, this will be an isolated issue, and most of the fine awesome (and cheap) Tokina, Vivitar, Tamron and Sigma A (Maxxum) mount lenses will work well.

As for older Olympus Zuiko manual lenses, you can get a Bower adapter on eBay, which will work very well. Just remember to turn off the DSLR’s automatic lens check before mounting the adapter and manual lens.

Here is the official Sony Alpha 700 specification sheet – Minolta compatabilty is at the very top.

By the way, if you’re interested in mounting your beautiful Zuiko prime lenses (and other Manual focus lenses) on the Sony DSLR, please check out this post.


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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I was in Boulder CO earlier this month (a work related visit), but I stayed in a hotel in Louisville CO, since it was much cheaper (and easier) to get a room, and besides, it’s only 10 minutes from Boulder. Louisville is a nice place, lots of places to get a decent meal.

I was exploring one evening and just driving along north from my hotel, when I stumbled upon this little gem of a recreation area. Davidson Mesa is an “open space” with minimal impact trails, and it’s the one place to get a clear view of the Front Range without any buildings and traffic getting in the way. It’s one heck of a resource for the good citizens of Louisville and surrounding areas.

For this trip, I had lugged my big Minolta Dynax 800si along with the Tamron 70-300mm and Phoenix 35-105mm, and for good measure, an old Vivitar 24mm f/2.8 (OM-Mount) with a OM-Maxxum adapter. The film was 400 and 200 speed Fuji film.

I’d have liked to have used higher resolution 100 speed film, but I had 2 zooms with me, and besides, the light in the foothills changes rapidly, and I wanted to have the additional latitude. On my last trip to Colorado last year, I had some 50speed slide film with me, and I was limited to using my 50mm f/1.7 since none of my other lenses were fast enough to handle the extra slow film.

I had the Tamron lens on the camera that evening and the Vivitar 24mm f/2.8 OM mount lens with a Bower adapter to fit it on the Minolta. I had included the zoom in my camera kit at the last minute, just in case I wanted to photograph some of the hard to access rocky crags along Boulder Creek. Normally one would not associate a long zoom with landscape photography, but the distance was just right to encompass the open space.

With ISO/ASA 400 film, the Tamron 70-300mm is great for portraits as well – just set to about 100mm and open to f/4 and you’ll get a couple of feet of depth of field, just enough for a person, throwing everything else pleasantly out of focus. I took a couple of pictures with the Vivitar 24mm as well, the Bower mount works like a charm. I just set the camera on manual and exposed at 1/500 sec at f/11.

I also wanted to get a soft and fuzzy view of the distant mountains, and emphasize the foreground and trail… there was also an interesting fence going off into the distance that I wanted to work into the composition somehow. For the soft shots, I used the camera on Portrait mode, hunkered down to minimize camera shake, picked the foreground subjects (rocks and grass) and shot.

There was a storm in the mountains that day, so the lighting near the Mesa was spectacular. The grass simply seemed to glow… modern film emulsions do a great job in capturing subtle colors, but some things are just too ethereal to capture. I did my best.

Here are the pictures from Davidson Mesa. The second picture is from another park right across the road from the Mesa parking area. It’s called Harper Lake.


Davidson Mesa
Harper Lake

Davidson Mesa
Davidson Mesa
Davidson Mesa
Davidson Mesa
Davidson Mesa
Davidson Mesa – Vivitar 24mm f/2.8
Davidson Mesa – Vivitar 24mm f/2.8

These pictures were also taken near Louisville, from a lookout point on Rte 36

Rte 36
Rte 36
Rte 36
Rte 36
Rte 36
Rte 36

Photographed with a Minolta Dynax 800si, Tamron 70-300mm f/3.5-4.6, Vivitar 24mm f/2.8 with Fuji Superia 400 film


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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