Long Focus


Early Spring is a great time to be out in the woods, especially on a sunny day – the trees may still be bare, but the forest floor is bursting with life… the under-story plants, shrubs and smaller trees rush through their flowering and leafing cycles quickly, to take advantage of the unrestricted sunlight – in a few weeks, once the trees leaf out, the canopy blocks off most of the light, and the small bushes go into the “quiet survival mode” until Fall when they get their chance in the sun again!

I’ve been out with the Sony Alpha 700 and the Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6. The choice of lens for woodland photography may seem surprising, but I find that the Tamron is very useful – the extended zoom range (the 70-300mm is equivalent to 105-450mm) on the Sony Alpha provides an useful stand-off distance so one can zoom in on an intresting flower or bud from a distance of at least 5 feet away without having to brave the underbrush and wicked looking brambles – the woods around here are chock full of wild raspberries and dog rose brambles. This also has the advantage of not blocking the light.

Besides, the Tamron 70-300mm is also a 1:3.9 macro, and since can focus down to 5 feet at the extended end of the zoom range, it does a great job. Moreover, I marvel at the fact that the Sony’s built in anti-shake allows me to handhold the 450mm equivalent lens. I would never have been able to do that with my manual Olympus bodies or even the auto focus Minolta 800si.

By the way, I purchased my Tamron lens about 8 years ago, back in June 2000 – I know they still make this lens, but I am not sure how the build quality has changed, or if it is still made made in Japan. I’ve always been very pleased with the Tamron, and even more so now…. with it’s super-zoom length of 450mm f/5.6 and equivalent when mounted on the Sony Alpha 700, it’s a formidable piece of optical engineering, and very cheap at the price. This is a true “cheap awesome lens”.


Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm

Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 and Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 lens. I used a Polarizer.



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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.

The Kitstar 200mm is a lens that I acquired very cheaply on Ebay last year – it was an impulse purchase, really, since I knew very little about the lens other than it had a OM mount, and I was intrigued by its unusual maximum aperture. My intention was to compare it with my much smaller and lighter Olympus OM 200 f/4 prime lens, which I absolutely love. I had used this lens on a OM body last spring, and then put it away, meaning to get back to it sometime.

The Kitstar 200mm is a distinctive lens, easy to recognize. It’s all metal and the rubber covering of the focusing rings is reticulated, instead of being checkered as is usual. Kitstar was the in-house brand of Kit’s Camera and they had their lenses made on contract by various manufacturers, so its hard to tell who the original maker is. The lens is solidly built and comes with a built in hood.

I don’t know of any lens makers such as Sigma, Tokina or Tamron who made a f/3.3 200mm prime lens, so who knows? Maybe its a f/3.5 rebadged as f/3.3. Kits Cameras was bought by Ritz Camera, and is part of their family of stores. Since Ritz has it’s own in-house camera brand (Quantaray), the Kitstar lenses are no more.

On the Sony Alpha 700, the 200mm f/3.3 lens becomes equivalent to a 300mm f/3.3 lens – that is really fast for a 300mm, and considering the price I paid for it, about $25 or so, it is a bargain. The weight of the lens makes it tricky to handhold, compared with the Sony 18-200mm (also equivalent to 27-300mm, but much slower, since it only goes to f/6.3 at the 200mm focal length).

Anyway, I could easily mount the lens on the Sony Alpha 700 with the Bower-made Minolta AF to OM adapter and took the lens for a spin. Here are the results. The Alpha 700’s anti-shake capabilites makes hand-holding easier, but it was still a challenge to avoid blurring. The Kitstar 200mm (apparent 300mm lens) has nice bokeh.


Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm

Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 camera body and Kitstar 200mm f/3.3 OM Mount lens- I used a Bower Minolta AF-OM adapter and 72mm Polarizer (67-72mm step-up ring)


Creative Commons License
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.

Ever since the first signs of Spring, I’ve been out with my cameras, not wishing to lose any of the magic of the Great Annual Awakening of Nature. Maryland’s topography is so varied that even though it is such a small state, Spring arrives early in the southern part of the State, especially around Chesapeake Bay and the lower Potomac – almost a full month before it arrives at the Northern regions – near the Pennsylvania border. The rolling hills and valleys of Carroll county are decidedly cooler than DC and the annual cherry flowering takes place almost a week after the Tidal basin flowering

This year (2008) the the Cherry Blossom Festival kicked off on Saturday, March 29 – the flowers began blooming a couple of days before that, and on the 29th, it was close to approaching the peak – and it was 50 degree weather the next few days are likely to be cold and rainy, and we’ll lose a lot of the blossoms. I’m hoping that the flowers last until next weekend. The Festival itself runs until April 13th – but I’m afraid the flowers may be all gone by then. Here are the flowers.. as usual, it was a family trip, but we got separated looking for parking, and never caught up with the other car (which, incidentally, had our picnic lunch). My group ended up snacking at the refreshment stall behind the Jefferson Monument. I was able to walk around a bit under the trees, and here are the pictures. The crowd was very heavy on Saturday.


2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival

2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700, Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 SAL18200 lens at Landscape setting and Auto ISO. I used a polarizer. The Shutter speeds ranged from 1/320 second in the Sun down to 1/50 second in the shade Here are the rest of the pictures.



Creative Commons License
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.

I’ve been so busy testing all my Olympus mount Zuiko and Kirons and Vivitars as well as the Minolta AF, Sigma, Tamron and Phoenix lenses on the Sony Alpha 700 that I feel that I haven’t really had a chance to use the Sony lens that I bought along with the Sony A700 body. It’s the Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 lens, officially named the SAL18200.

Coming from the manual lenses world, I originally had some trepidation with regards to the extended 1:11 zoom ratio, but I have been pleasantly surprised. Prior to this, the largest zoom ratio lens I owned is the Kiron 28-210mm super-zoom (1:7.5 zoom ratio) for Olympus mount. The Kiron is an awesome lens, but it’s bulky and heavy.

There used to be a time when designing lenses with such large zoom ratios used to mean accepting that there would have to be a compromise in the performance, particularly at the shorter end of the zoom, but Sony has some how managed to make it work. Sony even has a lens with an even larger zoom ratio, the SAL18250 (18-250mm) which has a mind boggling 1:13.9 or 1:14 zoom ratio.

In 35mm format terms, this lens is equivalent to a 27mm-300mm zoom lens, which pretty much covers every shooting situation that one is likely to encounter in casual photography. It’s a very well built lens, but I admit I’d have been happier if the lens had a metal mount like all my beautiful Minolta AF lenses instead of a cheesy hard plastic mount. But such is life. Industrial plastics get tougher, lighter and stronger every year, so I’m not complaining too much, though.

The one thing I am really happy about is that the SAL18200 a Sony “Made in Japan” lens – I expect that the production will soon shift to their Chinese or Malaysian plant. The fact that the China plant didn’t pass the official Chinese quality inspection doesn’t leave me with a lot of confidence in the facility, so I was happy to pony up the few extra dollars for the Japan made label. Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but that’s me.

The brochure states that the lens has a close focus of about 18 inches, but I have found in practice that it can focus as close as 12 inches at full extension – that’s at the 200mm focal length (300mm) so it’s very useful for close-ups as well as any general photography.

The lens is short – about 4 inches or so, with a 62mm filter, so its about 3 inches thick at its widest point. It’s short enough that the lens barrel doesn’t obstruct the on-board flash even when focusing close. The lens gave me a petal hood as well, which mounts very easily, and I reverse the hood on the lens body for easy transport.

The lens has focal length markings at 18mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm, 135mm and 200mm (APS format) which correspond to 27mm, 52mm, 75mm, 112.5mm, 150mm, 202.5 and 300mm in 35mm format.

Here’s a series of photographs taken at each focal length detent mark. These pictures were taken at Christman Park in Gaithersburg.

Sony SAL18200 18mm (27mm)
Sony SAL18200 35mm (52mm)
Sony SAL18200 50mm (75mm)
Sony SAL18200 75mm (112.5mm)
Sony SAL18200 100mm (150mm)
Sony SAL18200 135mm (202.5mm)
Sony SAL18200 200mm (300mm)
Sony SAL18200 the Menhir

Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park

Photographed with a Sony A700, Sony 18-200mm f/3.5 –f/6.3 lens



Creative Commons License
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.

I happened on this location by chance, as I returned to Gaithersburg from Baltimore . I took 295 (Greenbelt parkway) on my way back, and got off the exit that leads to the Robert Kennedy Stadium – going around it, I soon found myself on C street, and all these beautiful buildings. There was plenty of parking, near the intersection of C street and 11th, and I lingered there for a few minutes before driving down west towards 10th, where I stopped for a few more minutes.

Winter is a great time for streetscapes and architectural photography, since the buildings in the older localities aren’t obscured by trees, as they normally would be in the Summertime. I was carrying the Sony A700 with the Sony 18-200mm lens, nothing fancy. The Sony lens (SAL 18200) is a great all-around lens, especially if you make a modest investment in a 62mm Circular Polarizer.

Zooms give a great deal of flexibility, but at the same time, the perspective varies from shot to shot. You don’t really notice it while shooting, since we’re so focused on getting the proper framing and composition, but later, when organizing, we find a wide range of focal lengths. Interesting, of course, but not easy to catalogue.

I think street-photography is best with a zoom, but when recording specific architectural details, it may be better to use a fixed length 35mm or 50mm equivalent prime. I think I will go back again soon, and re-shoot some of the more interesting buildings with a 35mm equivalent prime as well (that would be a 24mm lens, which would give me 36mm on the A700).

Here are the photos from C street. The buildings are in perfect condition, and in the late afternoon sunlight, they look delicious.


C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street

C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 and Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 lens with a Circular Polarizer.



Creative Commons License
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.

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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Earlier this summer, I as testing my Toyo 500mm lens, happened to stop by at the Lady Bird Johnson Park off GW Parkway. The Navy memorial is located at one end of the park. Park affords a great view of the Washington Memorial and the Jefferson Memorials across the Potomac river. The other lenses I had that day were the Zuiko 200mm f/4 and the Zuiko 35-70mm f/4 and the reliable old Olympus OM-2. I figured it would be a great to be able to compare the lenses, so busily switched lenses for these shots – the early summer evening ensured that there was lots of light on the Memorial buildlngs, but most of the Potomac river was in shadow. It was a challenge to handhold the Toyo Fivestar 500mm lens for the shot of the Washington Memorial. Next time I’ll remember to lug a tripod along.


Zuiko 35-70mm f/4 at 35mm
Zuiko 35-70mm f/4 at 70mm
Zuiko 200mm f/4
Zuiko 200mm f/4
Toyo 500mm f/8 at f/11
Toyo 500mm f/8 at f/11
Zuiko 35-70mm f/4 at 70mm
Zuiko 200mm f/4
Toyo 500mm f/8 at f/11

Photographed with an OM-2, Zuiko 35-70mm f/4, Zuiko 200mm f/4, Toyo Five Star 500mm f/8. Film was Fuji Superia 400, and exposure was calculated with the Sunny 16 rule. Exposure for all 3 lenses was 1/500 at f/11, using a Polarizer.


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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