So, where were we ? Oh yeah, I was starting to collect A mount glass to accomodate my soon-to-be-delivered FF Sony A7, since Sony released this body *without* much of a lens line-up to go with it (lol).
My good pal Claude, a looong time Minolta user, has loaned me a bunch of older AF minolta lenses to play with. I currently mount them on my NEX 7 using the Sony LA-EA4 SLT AF adapter, which works as advertised.
I got myself a Beercan to replace the Minolta 70-210/3.5-4.5 I was less than impressed with, despite its awesome color signature. The 70-210 constant F4 zoom has quite a cult following, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.
Maybe I am spoiled by top notch modern lenses, like the Sigma 24-70/2.8 HSM I recently aquired, of the Sony 16-50/2.8 I tried a while back, but I am sad to report that the beercan hardly impresses me any more than the 3.5-4.5 version…
Sure, it is a *bit* sharper than the 3.5-4.5 I had, with the same lovely color rendering, but even warmer, which makes it a bit extreme. Purple fringing is quite present, but responds well to a little post processing.
So what is my take on those older lenses ? The 24-85/3.5-4.5 and 28-135/4-4.5 are good lenses, sharp from max aperture. AF is not the most blazing fast, but adequate. While the 24-85 is lighter and partly plastic, both 28-135 and 70-210/4 seem to be mostly metal. They’re dense, solid, and quite heavy.
I almost bought the Sigma 70-200/2.8 HSM DG Macro II this week, which happens to be my favorite AF lens of all times. The deal fell through (not on my end). While it was not a very reasonable purchase and my bank balance will be healthier for it, I still sorely regret I didn’t get it.
So what’s the morale of that story ? As far as glass and IQ is concerned… There is no free lunch. To think a 90€ lens (shipped) will perform like a 700€ one is just… dumb. Expensive glass is (usually) expensive for a reason : it’s good. Cheap glass is, well, you get the idea.
In other words, if I want a well performing telezoom, I gotta pay the price. There are some excellent longer and not so expensive options (the Tamron 70-300 versions, both LD Macro and USD come to mind) BUT they’re slower in aperture, with max 5.6 at the long end. That’s a bit slow for my needs.
A F4 constant zoom would work OK, and be lighter than a 2.8 one. But there is no such thing as of November 2013. In April 2014 Sony will release the FE 70-200/4 OSS, for the modest price of 1200€ (tongue in cheek).