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Minolta AF 300mm F/4 update

 

The Minolta AF 300/4 (review here) is a very capable lens; it’s sharp, and maxed out in resolution at F/4 for normal shooting, and F/5.6 for test charts.  Sony doesn’t currently offer any long telephoto primes for the ‘e’ mirrorless system, but you can get the exceptional ‘a’ mount Sony 300/2.8  (review here) for a …

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Grace Moore, the Tennessee Nightingale

The subject for today's large format negative post is the lovely Grace Moore.  Mary Willie Grace Moore was born in Del Rio, Tennessee, where she was nicknamed 'The Tennessee Nightingale' due to her wonderful operatic soprano voice.  She made her first Broadway appearance in 1920 and her operatic debut at the Metropolitan Theatre in New York City in 1928.  In the 1930s and 1940s she gave concert performances throughout the United States and Europe and was active in the USO shows during World War II.  Tragically, she died in a plane crash near the Copenhagen, Denmark airport in 1947.

This image was taken around 1935, which was the time of her academy award nomination for best actress for her performance in the 1934 smash hit 'one night of love.'  Go to her wikipedia page if you'd like more info.

Unfortunately the beautiful Grace Moore is no longer with us; however, through the magicalness of YouTube, and mysteriousness of the internet, you can see her alive, and performing a duet with Lawrence Tibbett called 'wanting you.'  Extra points for anyone that watches the entire clip!  Well rats; I just can't get past the guys mustache; apparently it worked back in the day.

I purchased this 8x10" Kodak nitrate negative via eBay.  The detail...

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Re-visiting the Minolta Sony AF 20mm F/2.8

Check out the full size test shots inside.  I've also updated the review with the addition of the test photos and a more up to date conclusion.

The Minolta (later rebranded Sony) 20mm F/2.8 is another excellent and very affordable ultra wide angle lens that dates from the late 1980s; but don't let the three decade old design fool you into thinking it's just another cruddy old film lens.  Minolta built this lens out of metal, and added auto focusing capabilities, which was rare in the mid 1980s.  Optically, it's very sharp, and uses a 10 element, 9 group optical design.  No wonder it's still available today brand new, or used for around $250.  There are currently no auto focusing equivalent lenses in the Sony 'E' mount line-up; however, if you prefer a manual focusing modern equivalent, be prepared to pay $1500 for the Zeiss 21mm F/2.8---B&H Photo, Amazon, eBay, $800 for a Tokina Furin 20mm F/2---B&H Photo, Amazon, eBay), or $600 for a Rokinon 20mm F/1.8---B&H Photo, Amazon.  If you have the Sony 28/2, you can get the converter for an ultra wide angle 21mm.

The Minolta/Sony versions of this lens would be an affordable way to get an ultra wide angle lens for your Sony 'FE' camera using an adapter.  For the smaller Sony APS-C camera bodies, Sony makes a pretty good 20mm F/2.8 pancake type lens that I would recommend...

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Fuji GS645S Wide 60 Review

The Fuji GS645S is a great way to get started in medium format film.  The camera is light weight, relatively small, easy to operate, and the simple exposure meter works fairly well even with slide film; and the best part: you don't need any batteries to get full use from the camera!  I really like it, the images have much more resolution than 35mm, which allows you to crop and fit the picture in a different aspect ratio frame, like an 8x10 or 5x7 etc.  User warning; don't ding the cow bar, otherwise you'll be sorry!  Find out what that means inside...

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Rollei Digibase CR 200 film samples

Interested in turning your high quality medium format camera into a cheap 35mm? well, plop a roll of this film into your camera and get some cool low-def images!  However, this E-6 color reversal film does have some redeeming qualities for those looking for more than resolution.

Rollei Digibase CR 200 (B&H, eBay) is a color reversal (E-6 developing) or 'slide film' in hobbyist terms.  Characteristics include a warm look, which is very noticeable after using Fuji E-6 film like Velvia and provia;  a wide dynamic range, almost like print film believe it or not, and a final plus; it's pretty easy to scan as the film has almost no curl.

I like the warm look; again, it's a welcome change from the bluish Fuji films, although it's a far cry from Kodachrome as some people compare it to.  Also noticeable is the neutral fine grain which is acceptable in my opinion, but only when exposing properly, highlight/shadow fixes in post can degrade even-toned areas in the picture; see the sky in the 'tree' shot below.

I only ran one roll of this through my Fuji GS645S, which is a medium format 120 roll film camera with a wide angle 60mm F/4 lens, so this isn't a review, I just wanted to post some samples in case you were wondering how it looks with that size of film; I've only seen 35mm samples from my quick web searches.  I'm guessing I could get a sharp 8x10 with a medium format camera, unfortunately, I'm also guessing 35mm film might not produce enough sharp detail for a good 5x7 print.

For those looking for a more traditional high ISO rated color reversal film, I'd recommend Fuji Provia 400X, however, it's being discontinued in 2017, and prices are sky high.

I've been getting everything ready for the Fuji GS645S review that's coming up shortly.  It's a pretty small camera for the film size, (similar to a pro 35mm camera body), and has a full manual mode too.

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Randy Houser BTS ‘we went’ pictures

So I spent the day hiking in the nearby mountains; and got in a little picture taking along the way.  I usually take along a folding 120 camera, this time it was the Ziess Ikon Ikonta, a cheap 6x6 that my dad bought brand new in 1953.  I'm driving down the mountain heading home when I see all these cars and huge buses parked at a pull out called windy point.  It's here I usually stop and take some late afternoon and sunset pictures before it gets dark, and where this comparison was made.  This time it's definitely packed with cars and people, plus some portable generators running and what sounds like some huge speakers blasting music on the west edge of the cliff.

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Revised Sony/Minolta AF 24-105mm F/3.5-4.5 review

With the introduction of the Sony FE 24-105/4 lens, I was reminded that this is the second wide to medium zoom of that focal range for Sony; although the new one gets a new 'FE' mount, a constant F/4 aperture and OSS.  It also gets a hefty price tag of $1300!!

Our second re-visited and revised lens review is the 'a' mount oldie but goodie Minolta/Sony AF 24-105mm F/3.5-4.5 lens, (introduced in about 1999-2000), later to be relabeled 'Sony' in 2006, and discontinued in about 2008/9.  Current value on eBay seems to be $100-200 depending on condition, that's about a tenth of the price of the new lens.

The older Minolta/Sony 24-105mm F/3.5-4.5 worked very well back in the early days of digital, even though it was designed as a film lens; I used mine on the Sony A900 for several years as an everyday walk around lens, and still enjoy many of the pictures I took.  Unfortunately, I don't have the original test pictures from the review to show, however, I did come up with a selection from different focal lengths and apertures to give you a good idea about how it performs on a 24mp camera...

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