Amazing finds of the century at YL Camera, Pudu Plaza! Left is the rare Minolta 80-200mm F2.8G HS APO, right is the Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM, both amazingly fast-focusing lenses! (Bottom-right corner shows the Minolta’s blemished hood; the Sony doesn’t even come with a hood which might explain the price.)
Minolta 80-200mm F2.8G HS APO at 200mm F2.8.
Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM at 150mm F5.6.
I’d have to say it’s a fair tie in image quality. Other factors like practicality start to take precedence – the Minolta is nearly twice the weight of the Sony, and has a poor minimum focus distance of 1.8 meters. The Sony does 1.2 meters close no matter what. Of course, the Minolta can do F2.8 at all focal lengths.
And then I went to Sony Style KLCC to find out if the Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus was affected in image quality by the Sony 2x APO Teleconverter.
Top-left: Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA at 135mm F1.8 1/200s ISO320
Top-right: Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA through a Kenko 2x MC4 teleconverter at 280mm F3.5 1/125s ISO800 (minor swirliness at the bottom, not always obvious)
Bottom-left: Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus at 135mm F2.8 (transmission factor T4.5) 1/125s ISO800
Bottom-right: Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus through a Sony 2x APO Teleconverter at 280mm F5.6 (transmission factor T9.0) 1/80s ISO3200
Yes, the Sony counts 135mm with a 2x TC as 280mm instead of 270mm for some weird reason, but I’ll refer to it as 280mm anyway for the rest of this entry.
So, I could conclude that the Sony 2x APO Teleconverter does not degrade the bokeh of the STF lens.
Does it degrade sharpness? Not by much of a noticeable bit for me. 100% crop of the 280mm T9.0 1/80s ISO3200 shot.
However, it does bring out some chromatic aberration. 100% crop of the 280mm T9.0 1/80s ISO3200 shot.
I shot X-Fine Large JPG which isn’t the best way to bring out the image quality of the A900 but this was a quick snap, all other factors the same.
Left: Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus with a Sony 2x APO Teleconverter
Right: Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA with a Kenko 2x MC4 teleconverter
Height comparison to my Minolta 50mm F1.4 Original.
Physically though, the Sony 2x APO Teleconverter has its front element sticking out further nearer to the mount, while my Kenko 2x MC4 is quite deep inside.
The Sony is fussy – you just cannot physically mount most lenses in front of it because of the front element. On the plus side, it’s optically better because of this.
It fits all the non-black Sony lenses, with the exception being the STF. So that means the white Sony 70-200mm F2.8G SSM, Sony 300mm F2.8G SSM, Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6G SSM and Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus.
My Kenko, meanwhile, accepts any lens or teleconverter. So I could stack it!
So does that mean I can stack the teleconverters? Of course, though only in a certain order.
So here’s the result, 560mm F18 1/40s ISO1600.
Stacking order: Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus – Sony 2x APO Teleconverter – Kenko 2x MC4 teleconverter – Sony A900
Also at 560mm F18 1/40s ISO1600. The STF gives 1:4x magnification, and putting a 2x teleconverter doubles the magnification. Obviously then, putting two 2x teleconverters quadruples the magnification to give 1:1x life-size magnification!
Okay, so shooting macro with a full-frame isn’t all that great.
However, you might not want to use the STF with a 2x teleconverter, because:
– the STF is manual focus only, without a focus confirmation light (refer to my findings here why it just cannot detect focus)
– the light transmission ends up being T9.0 which is quite dark
– on an APS-C body, 280mm gives the equivalent of 420mm which is long and hard to use. Already the STF without teleconvters is hard to use on APS-C for portraits due to the length.
On a side note, how do you secure your camera from flying paintballs? Using a thick plastic bag!
Left: Put the hood in the corner. Right: Carve out a hole using a knife or a pen.
Finally, tape it to the hood! Here’s my Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 with my Minolta Dynax 7, all inside a Borders plastic bag! Not rain-proof completely as the back is still exposed, but it is covered enough for splashes and paintballs!