What are “cleaning marks” on a camera lens?

Marks on a lens can be caused by scratches, or by improper cleaning. “Cleaning marks” are caused by improper cleaning. If you wipe a lens with, say a dry Kleenex, then you can scratch the lens coatings (not the glass, but the coatings on the glass, which are softer) especially if there is something hard,… Read More »

Extension tubes on the Sony Alpha

I got some extension tubes made for the Sony Alpha. How do I control the lens’ aperture when using the tubes? There are inexpensive extension tubes that do not have the electronic contact pins to connect the lens with the camera. And then there are more expensive ones (such as those made by Kenko) that… Read More »

Best inexpensive long zoom for the A850

I don’t have the means to test, but I’ve always wondered if the first generation Maxxum “Big Beercan” 75-300mm zoom is better than the current-generation Tamron and Sigma 70-300mm’s for the A850. At 12 and 16 mp the “Big Beercan” has slightly better corner sharpness than a Sigma or Tamron 75-300mm, especially wide open and… Read More »

Using a Macro Bellows with Flash

When I use a macro bellows with flash on my Sony A55, I get half-exposed frames. Why? If you are getting half exposed frames then you have the shutter set outside the flash synch range. Basically, the shutter has two curtains, the front and back curtain. The front curtain opens up the camera, and the… Read More »

Telephoto “Macro” Zoom Lenses

A lot of telephoto zoom lenses are marked “Macro”. For example, almost every 70-300mm zoom lens has a the word “macro” on it somewhere. What does this mean? Especially if there is no macro switch on the lens? At 300mm and at minimum focus distance a lens marked “macro” is usually capable of 1:4 magnification… Read More »

Will Konica Lenses work on a Sony Alpha DSLR?

No. The confusion comes from the corporate history of Minolta, Konica, and Sony. Back in the 1980’s Konica and Minolta were separate companies with separate, incompatible camera systems. Sometime after 2000 Minolta bought Konica, but by that time Konica had long discontinued its cameras, and made mostly film and specialty devices (like copiers and printers).… Read More »

How much dust is inside a brand new lens?

I recently acquired a lens that looked brand new. How much dust is inside a brand new lens? With the naked eye could see only one particle, a tiny fleck on the element that was immediately in front of the aperture. Then I took a really bright light, held the aperture open and shined it… Read More »

Are Sony lenses as good as Minolta lenses?

Yes and no. It is important to distinguish between the high-end lenses and the sub-$500 consumer zooms, both from Sony and from Minolta, and to understand sample variation. The high end lenses are essentially the same lenses, built in the same factory, to the same standards, and are essentially comparable. The differences are in the… Read More »

Build quality and the Minolta Maxxum xi power zoom lenses

In terms of overall build quality, Minolta’s xi power zoom lenses from the early 1990s may represent a high water mark. Minolta’s lenses, like the cameras and lenses from all makers, have gotten cheaper over the years, in more ways than one. The upholstery in 1930’s Mercedes cars was made to last 100 years. Today… Read More »

Can you use Minolta manual focus lenses on a Sony Alpha body?

Back in 2001 I wrote an article titled “Can you use Minolta manual focus lenses on an autofocus body?” That was before  Minolta released their first digital SLR, and before they sold their camera business to Sony. The information, however, is still valid, and applies to the Sony Alpha digital SLR cameras for the same reasons. The… Read More »