Telephoto lens
#65 Henry, Wednesday, 02 June 2010 8:48 AM (Category: Gadgets)
(Tags: dslr telephoto sony a200)

I have a Sony Alpha 200 DSLR. This is the camera that most camera afficionados sneer at. All the power camera users have Canons and Nikons. But I don't care. I like my Sony Alpha 200 and I have used it a lot and I like the results. But the stock standard lens it came with does wide angle, normal and a little telephoto. It does 18-70mm. Good for most things so far, but it doesn't do so good when I see a race finishing on the water and I can't get good closeups of it. The telephoto doesn't cut it.

I decided to look for telephoto lenses, something around 75-300mm. Ouch. There's the Sony lenses, there's Sigma lenses and there's Tamron. Somewhere between $170 and $400 new. I'm reluctant to jump at them. I wanted to dabble with telephoto a bit inexpensively first.

In my reading and research, I notice that the Sony lenses are rebadged Minolta lenses. In 2006, Konica-Minolta got out of the DSLR camera business and sold that division to Sony who rebadged it and continued making Minolta style cameras under their own name. The first one was the Alpha 100, and the second the Alpha 200 - the one I have. The older Minolta lenses will fit these Sony DSLRs. They are Maxxum/Dynax type lenses with an A-type bayonet mount. While researching the lenses, I found this wonderful site - the Minolta/Konica Minolta/Sony Alpha lens database - that lists all the Minolta/Sony lenses and their details. I found it incredibly useful for sorting out what was what.

I learned several things. The Sony DSLRs have the anti-shake mechanism in the camera body, not the lens, so anti-shake will work with these older Minolta lenses. These older lenses do not contain the D-function, so they will not work well with the auto-flash. As my prime purpose for getting one of these lenses is to be out at midday in blazing sun, taking photos of rowing shells hammering to the finish line, I am not concerned about flash.

So I went to eBay to see what was available. I found a Minolta 75-300m lens that would fit my Alpha 200. It's a "Minolta AF 75-300/4.5-5.6 II" beer can style lens. It's from 1999. So it's about 11 years old. I got it for $40 plus some shipping. It arrived rapidly. It fit my camera. It worked. I have telephoto. It is awesome. I am playing with it, getting used to my first telephoto lens. I have two races coming up, and when the boats hit the finish line, I will be able to get closeups.

As it's a used lens, it doesn't come with the original gear. No lens cap, no rear cap, no pouch. I used the rear cap from my original lens, and I added a UV filter to the front, so it's okay for the time being. I still keep it in the plastic bag it arrived in. It won't fit in my camera bag. I'm now in the market for a larger camera bag.

Catching the cat with the telephoto lens