Minolta


In an earlier post discussing the DSLR crop factor, I had mentioned that if you really need to shoot really-wide angles, just use your film camera – because ultra wide-angle PRIME lenses (24mm equivalent or better) for DSLRs are still prohibitively expensive. The Kit zoom lens that Sony bundles (18-70mm) and the other lenses such as the 18-200mm and 18-250mm are all equivalent to 27mm at the wide end.

The Sony 16-105mm Zeiss zoom is equivalent to 24mm at the wide end, but markedly more expensive than the other lenses. So if we need 24mm and better, it’s either shelling out the big bucks for the Sony 16-105, and if choosing a prime, there’s not many choices. It’s one area where a film 35mm camera like my Minolta 800si still has an edge especially if you currently own a 24mm lens.

However, if a moderate wide angle is fine, the fine Sigma 24mm f/2.8 AF is still widely available at a reasonable price. On the Sony Alpha DSLR, the Sigma 24 is an apparent 36mm focal length with a 63 degree view angle. A true 24mm has a view angle of 74 degrees.

The Sigma 24mm AF Super-wide II is a particularly good deal, since it is available at a reasonable price. One of the reasons (other than that it’s a 3rd party prime) was that the lens came with a matte black “Zen” finish that tended to flake off easily, giving even well cared for lenses a used and battered appearance. This means the prices are often substantially marked down.

My recommendation? Don’t be afraid – unless you are a stickler for cosmetic appearances, the external finish does not affect the lens performance at all. It is an excellent lens by all accounts, and I can vouch for that.

The Sigma lens was also re-badged and sold by Ritz Camera as a house-brand Quantaray 24mm lens, but with a different, more durable, though cheesy finish, gold line and all. It’s still the same optics, though. Don’t be fooled by the appearance – this is a very high quality lens. Besides, the Sigma 24mm can be used as a 36mm normal lens, since many photographers prefer a 35mm lens as their standard lens.

The 24mm has well corrected distortions and moderate wide-angle allows us to include more of the subject, having the effect of ‘getting into the picture’ . We’d pay hundreds more to get a similar “designed for digital” Sony (or any other OEM) lens. High-priced lenses are an anathema for the thrifty amateur, of course.

These pictures are from Westminster, MD – the little park at the intersection of Green Street and Ridge Road (MD Rte 27) looking towards St. Paul’s Church and Green Street. I used the Sigma 24mm AF lens on the Sony Alpha 700 – the 1.5x digital crop gives me an apparent focal length of 36mm. The soft morning light with a light overcast sky was just right.


Westminster, MD

Westminster, MD
Westminster, MD
Westminster, MD
Westminster, MD
Westminster, MD
Westminster, MD

Westminster, MD
Westminster, MD
Westminster, MD
Westminster, MD

Here’s a couple of pictures of the Sigma 24mm mounted on my Sony Alpha 700. It’s a small lens, about the size of a Minolta 50mm f/1.7 normal lens.

Sigma AF 24mm Super-Wide on Sony A700
Sigma AF 24mm Super-Wide on Sony A700
Sigma AF 24mm Super-Wide on Sony A700

Here’s my daughter Sunny, making faces from very closeup as I was checking out the Sigma lens. She though the distortions were hilarious.

Being Silly

Here’s a some pictures taken with the Sigma 24mm at sunset – I was in Bohrer park with Sunayana and the light was changing rapidly. Note the reddish light in some of the pictures.

Sigma AF 24mm – Sunset Bohrer Park
Sigma AF 24mm – Sunset Bohrer Park
Sigma AF 24mm – Sunset Bohrer Park
Sigma AF 24mm – Sunset Bohrer Park
Sigma AF 24mm – Sunset Bohrer Park
Sigma AF 24mm – Sunset Bohrer Park
Sigma AF 24mm – Sunset Bohrer Park

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700, Sigma AF 24mm f/2.8 Super-wide II (the lens has an apparent focal length of 36mm when mounted on the Alpha 700)



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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.

Christmas day was a balmy 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the the DC area…with lots of sunshine. A far cry from the bitter cold of the mid-west, I must say. We miss the snow on the ground, but a body (especially me) could get used to this milder winter weather. I believe we’re in Zone 6B-7A here, which makes for milder winters than the Great Plains states.

Sunayana and I headed out to Germantown park so she could work off the excess energy, and I took the Alpha 700 along with my Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 prime lens. On the Sony Alpha 700, the 50mm is equivalent to a mild telephoto 75mm (the 1.5x crop factor), and makes an excellent portrait lens. Even better, it is an excellent lens for natural light photography, even at very low light levels.

The light was failing by the time we got to Germantown park, and over the course of the time we were there, it got quite dark. The Minolta 50mm lens handled the failing light very well. I left the Alpha in ISO auto select (ISO 800) and opened up the lens to f/2. The almost dark condition was no sweat at all at those settings, and if I wasn’t there, I would swear that the pictures were taken much earlier in the evening.

By the way, if some of the pictures seem slightly blurry, it’s because she moves at lightning speed. NO camera’s AF can possibly keep up with a 5 year old with pent up energy!

Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700

Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700
Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 on A700

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 and Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 Lens. Camera was set to AUTO mode and ISO 800.


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all product names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. Thank you for visiting Olympuszuiko. Have a great day!

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

When I was looking through the Blog Stats for Olympuszuiko, I realized that this is the 100th post. Although I’ve been photographing for  many years, it’s only been a year (almost) since I started WRITING about my experiences with photography and with Olympus and other manual cameras. 

My wife has been telling me for a while to purchase a digital SLR and be done with the expense of film development etc, since I can use my beloved Zuiko, Kiron, Minolta and Vivitar lenses on most digital SLRs with the proper adapter. My T-mount lenses can easily adapt as well. Besides, it would also keep me from continuing to buy bits and pieces of equipment – lenses, bodies and other camera paraphernalia.

While that is true, I would definitely miss the feel of my beautiful manual cameras. My Olympus OM-1, OM1n, OM2, OM2n, OM-10 and OM-PC AND my Minolta Dynax 800si, the Ricoh CR-5, the Yashica TL-Super and the heavy Fujicarex II. Besides, if I gave up film completely, what would I do with the fixed lens cameras – in particular the Olympus Trip 35 cameras, the Ricoh 500G and Olympus 35 RC and Yashica Electro GSN rangefinders? To say nothing of the Pen EE half frame. They would end up on a shelf and slowly rot.

Still, progress cannot be denied. I have been looking into purchasing a Digital SLR for a while, and while it would seem natural for me to purchase an Olympus DSLR – perhaps the E-410 or E-510, but I’m not comfortable with the manual Zuiko compatibility issues, since even with the E-series Four-Thirds to OM Zuiko lens adapter, I will not be able to use the manual Zuikos stopped down to f/11 or f/16 which I use for most of daytime photographs. On top of that, my Minolta AF lenses would languish.

A better option for me is the Sony Alpha series cameras either the Alpha 100 or the new Alpha 700, with their full compatibility with all Minolta AF lenses, including my 3rd party Phoenix, Tamron and Sigma AF lenses. I use them quite a lot, especially the Phoenix 28-105mm and I would definitely be lost if I could not use them on any digital camera I ended up buying. I could use all my Zuiko and other Olympus Mount lenses on the Sony Alpha with the Bower adapter. I’ve used the Bower Minolta Maxxum-OM adapter successfuly on my Dynax 800si and have been pleased with the results.

I’m curious about the Sony Alpha 700, when I have a chance to actually try it out, perhaps I’ll be able to make up my mind. I have heard that Sony has fixed the “noise” issues that were a problem at 400 ASA and above and that the camera is much more rugged. I like the “rugged” part. Can’t ask for the digitals to be comparable with my manual cameras, but I’d sure like something that I could take on a hike without being afraid that it’d would die on me.

I’ve enjoyed writing about my cameras and lenses, and my feeble attempts at photography. As I look over the pictures that I have taken over the past year with a critical eye and compare them with photographs that I have made over the past 9-10 years, I realize that I have made progress in some areas and still need to work on several others – most notably, exposure issues, composition and lens selection.

Oh, well.. like the old saying goes – “the unexamined life is not worth living”. I guess it’s the same for photography. One last word.. I get about 200 hits a day, mostly people who are looking for information about a particular camera or lens. I am grateful to all those who stop by and read my blog… and occasionally leave a comment on a post.

Thank you for stopping by.


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 finally had the last roll of film from the Baltimore Inner harbor shoot developed this week…. these were with the Minolta Dynax 800si and the Phoenix 28-105mm lens. This is one of my most used Minolta AF lenses, since it spans such a useful range of focal lengths – from wideangle to medium telephoto.

Although it is most useful as a portrait lens, the 105mm is just right for closing in on interesting architectural detail, and the 28, 35 and 50mm focal lengths are always available. I believe that this is the one lens to pack if one is traveling light. I usually carry a Tiffen 812 warming filter in case of overcast or open sky photography and a Tiffen circular polarizer when its bright and sunny out.


Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Inner Harbor, Baltimore

Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Inner Harbor, Baltimore

Photographed with a Minolta Dynax 800si AF camera and Phoenix 28-105mm f/2.8-3.6 lens on Fujis Superia 200 film. I used a Tiffen circular 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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On the last day of my conference at Baltimore, I lugged along my autofocus Minolta Dynax 800si with the Phoenix 28-105mm lens. This road is leads to Harbor East, which is the former warehouse district. Most of the grungy old buildings have been torn down, and it’s being developed into a vibrant business and commercial area.

Two blocks further down, you can still see some of the remaining warehouses, they are really decrepit, and the neighborhood is generally rundown and boarded up. No trees, just concrete sidewalks, uncared for streets and no place you’d care to stop. I walked through that area one afternoon looking for a decent place to eat, and ended up walking 3 blocks back to the edge of Little Italy. I can recommend Petalos Restaurant for their fine salad.

To anyone who believes all development of older city areas is bad, I’d recommend that they walk along Pratt Street in Baltimore, and go past the ritzy hotels to the older, undeveloped areas, and tell me if they still feel the same. What I am against though is the tearing down of older housing to make for multiple residential complexes, and shopping places filled with the same old coffeeshops.

I wish cities would encourage more diversity in the commercial areas, and make it possible for the smaller artisan shops to afford a location in the newly developed areas. Would be like adding a bit of spice to otherwise bland fare.


Harbor East
Harbor East
Harbor East
Harbor East

Additional pictures of the Inner Harbor area

Inner Harbor
Inner Harbor

Inner Harbor
Inner Harbor
Inner Harbor
Inner Harbor
Inner Harbor

Photographed with an autofocus Minolta Dynax 800si, Phoenix 28-105mm f/2.8-3.6 zoom lens, Fuji Superia 200. I used a Tiffen 812 filter in the shade and a Tiffen Polarizer in the sun.


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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Mid summer is THE time for flowers – by this time, the colors of early Spring are long forgotten, gone are the flowering spring bulbs, the cherry and the peach blossoms. By late June and early July, the second wave of color manifests itself, with the annuals and summer perennials coming into bloom.

This is also the best time for wildflowers, and beautiful roadside displays in the countryside. Strictly speaking, these aren’t “native” wildflowers – but out in the country, there is always a kind soul that scatters seed along the grassy verges where they tend to naturalize over time.

I came upon this country home, with an extensive garden reaching out to the roadside.. flowers everywhere. So were the bees, drunk with the nectar. I pulled over and dragged out my trusty Minolta 800si. I had some 400 Speed film in there since I had been testing my Toyo 500, but the flowers were too beautiful to pass up the opportunity.

I used a Sigma 50mm Macro lens for the flowers and my trusty Phoenix 28-105mm general purpose zoom for the old barn next door. I would have preferred a slower film with the 50mm lens, perhaps a 200 ASA or even a 100 ASA, but since I was working with the 400 speed, I set the camera to aperture priority and stopped down to f/13 and used a polarizer to get the light down to a useable level and help with color saturation.

It was early afternoon, the time of day when the light is high and flat, and hardly any modeling. With a manual camera I’d have underexposed a little to be sure of retaining the subtle colors, but the Minolta Dynax 800si’s matrix metering is so accurate that I did not have to worry. Besides, Fuji Superia 400 is very forgiving and has a great deal of latitude, behaving splendidly in bright sunlight as well as shade.


Sigma 50mm f/2.8
Sigma 50mm f/2.8
Sigma 50mm f/2.8
Sigma 50mm f/2.8
Sigma 50mm f/2.8
Sigma 50mm f/2.8
Sigma 50mm f/2.8
Sigma 50mm f/2.8
Sigma 50mm f/2.8
Sigma 50mm f/2.8
Sigma 50mm f/2.8
Sigma 50mm f/2.8
Sigma 50mm f/2.8
Sigma 50mm f/2.8
Phoenix 28-105mm
Phoenix 28-105mm

Photographed with a Minolta Dynax 800si, Sigma 50mm f/2.8 1:1 macro and Phoenix 28-105mm f/2.8-f/3.6 lenses, Fuji Superia 400 film. I used a Polarizing filter.


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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On this last trip to Colorado, I has planned to drive out into the mountains in the evenings after work. My goal was to make it out to Estes Park, near the entrance of the Rocky Mountain National Park. I did make it there, but it started raining heavily, and my plans to photograph Estes lake and surrounding areas was a bust.

I did manage to get around though. On the advice of a colleague, I took Pearl Street west to Canyon Road, and drove out of town meaning to get a closer look at the rocky outcrops just outside of Boulder, CO. I’d originally intended to drive out to the famous Flatirons, but it was late by the time I got out of the office, so I settled for the shorter drive.

Canyon Road runs alongside Boulder Creek, and is very picturesque. I have to commend the City of Boulder for all the parking available by the roadside, practically every couple of hundred yards. I pulled over at a couple of places, and just sat by the beautiful rocky stream. Here are some of the pictures. I got the smooth effect on by shooting the stream at 1/8 of a second at f/11 with a polarizer. I didn’t have a tripod, so I braced myself on a nearby rock.


Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon

Boulder Creek 1/8 sec at f/11
Boulder Creek 1/125 sec at f/11
Boulder Canyon

Photographed with a Minolta Dynax 800si, Maxxum 35-105mm and Tamron 70-300mm lenses and Fuji Superia 400.


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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