Minolta 50 1.4

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The first thing someone usually tells you upon purchasing your first DSLR, is to ditch the kit zoom lens and get yourself a prime. In the Sony universe, most will recommend the Minolta 50mm 1.7. It’s a great lens, built solidly, and performs sharply. It also can be had for roughly $80. I’ve owned one, then sold it, then searched for it again. I went a different route, spend a few more bucks and obtained the f1.4 version of Minolta’s standard lens. Here’s why:

-on the a77, light is important and I could use the extra third stop
-as far as bokeh on a crop sensor behavior is more like the full frame equivalent of 2.1 vs 2.55, rather than 1.4 vs 1.7.
-sharper overall at wider apertures
-Sony equivalent is twice as much as the Minolta

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They are both great choices as short tele-portrait lens (remember 50mm on an aps-c is really 75mm) and are built from an era of durability. They are also really small compared to other brands since the focus motor is screw driven and doesn’t require a mechanism in the lens body. So they are truly pocketable. The manual focus ring is tiny however, and though the rotation is smooth on the copies I’ve had, it really was designed for autofocus. An autofocus that is loud but quick on the a77.

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and now a video shot with it….

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Secret Handshake

secret handshake

There are a lot of rumors and folktales about this one.

-made with Leica
-Minolta sold it cheaply as “thank you” to it’s users
-every time a picture is taken with it, Zooey Deschanel sings a quirky song

The facts are it takes solid, sharp and contrasty photos that performs well against the much more expensive Zeiss line of lenses.

Here: Pitted against Sony “G” and Zeiss high end lenses.

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It has it’s drawbacks. 28mm is not wide enough and f4-4.5 is not fast enough, especially on a crop sensor, for general purpose. The minimum focusing distance is also pretty long, but it comes with a nifty macro switch that lets you in pretty close. It’s manual focus only but still comes in handy. I used it for some of the shots in the video that follows. The focus ring feels flimsy and is oddly located in the rear but autofocus is extremely fast on the Sony a77. For full frame or other high megapixel cameras, the resolution and detail it can capture with the right light is amazing. It’s also, like all other Minolta lenses, built like a tank….apart from the focus ring.

and now a video shot with it……making a pot of chili. Lost the footage of tomato puree going into it. blah, blah, blah just watch it.

Queen of Portraits

Minolta made some “G” or “L” class lenses in there first go round with autofocus. Legend has it that through it’s formal cooperation with Leitz (more known for it’s Leica division)  Minolta integrated unusually high performance optical technology that some would prefer over the twice as expensive Zeiss. With a focal length of either 85mm on a full-frame or 127.5mm on an aps-c combined with an ultra fast 1.4 aperture it makes for a beastly portrait lens. Creamy Minolta bokeh, rich colors, and a hulk-like build add to the credence to it’s nickname “Queen of Portraits.”

and now a video:

A Love Story and a Baby.

Is there ever a need or a reason to have to know somebody? Is being surefooted with a singular goal more of a risk than being open to constantly trying new things? I’m pretty sure all my original thoughts were wrong. I’m pretty sure that this type of story is rarer than total eclipse. I’m happy that I get to know Brian and Ada. It never gets boring to say but he is her first boyfriend AND vice verse.

I got to spend a day with them and their first baby, Brayden.

Technical stuff of note:

The last scene with the dog (Gigi) was shot with the Canon 5D Mark ii. I’m starting to get addicted to the full frame look. That tree almost looks 3d! Most everything else was shot with either the Sony a77 or a hacked GH2. It’s getting real annoying how one camera’s strengths are another’s weakness. The a77 was by far the easiest to shoot with, quickest to get focus, and the easiest to compose (articulating screen and evf). Shot in 60p and slowed 40% in post for all the slo-mo shots. The biggest issue with the GH2 and a77 was the lighting. I walked in relying on natural sources and it just wasn’t working. The higher ISOs I had to use gave me some noisy footage. I also came in to snap stills not motion and was a bit groggy from being up all night battling the sniffles….ahh excuses – I feel magically better about the video now. As far as the stills go, I was much happier shooting with the a77 paired with a vintage 1985 85mm 1.4 Minolta lens. I never missed a shot I wanted. The Mark ii just wasn’t fast enough to lock focus on certain occasions and I missed a few shots. When I pulled all the images though, the 5D pulled a significantly higher useable hit ratio. Wish I could take all three cameras and roll em into one.

Lenses used:

Minolta 85 1.4
Minolta 50 1.4
Minolta 50 2.8 Macro
Canon 50 1.4 USM
Leica Summilux 25 1.4

Chopped in Final Cut

Bonus:

I came across this and have to share. The Sony team behind the NEX decided to make fun of DSLR users. I think I turn into the last guy sometimes. “Let me put it into video mode!”

GH2 Hack on a Mac

The hack was pretty simple but gathering all the required parts and instructions took some laborious searching. The accompanying video hopefully helps speed the process for you, lends confidence you won’t brick it and remind me when I forget, I will forget. This is the main link you’ll need.

I’ve found that any bitrate below 100 mbps writes to cheap transcend class 10 cards fairly problem free. I’ve yet to receive a speed card error unless I go over that. As far as the quality, I can’t tell the difference between the stock firmware and the hacked one, with any settings even up to 176 mbps, unless I’m grading the footage. I was surprised when I pushed the shadows down on one shot to seehow much detail held up. Doing the same everything on the a77 crumpled the screen to black. For the most part, I can live with the footage from the a77. However, a hacked GH2 gives me 12,800 iso, audio controls, bitrate that can stand up to harsh treatment in post, noise that looks like natural film grain and a higher resolution video, even unhacked.

The Fotodiox adapter that allows me to attach all my Sony/Minolta lenses is pretty sturdy. It’s all metal with a dial to control aperture. There are no markings so you’re going to have to guess but it works well with the GH2 in A or M mode. I purchased the adapter here.

Sony Potato Salad

Rustic (ie Lazy) Potato Salad

Ingredients:
5 Potatoes
1 Red Onion (diced)
2 Stalks Celery (diced)
1 TB Dijon
4 TB Mayo
1/4 Cup Italian Dressing
4 tsp Salt
2 tsp pepper

Place potatoes in cold water and bring to a boil, this allows more even cooking. When a knife slides in and out easily the potatoes are done. Place in an ice bath, peel and chunk. Coat the potatoes in the italian dressing and give a minute for absorption. Add the rest of the ingredients and don’t over mix. Serve with your favorite garnish. Bon Ape Tit.