Long-term support…


Two weeks before Christmas (my own personal holiday), I picked up a Sony a6500 mirrorless camera with 18-105mm f/4 lens. It came in quite handy over Christmas for getting some good pics of my niece and nephew and my parents’ skittish new puppy, and when I got home again, I was able to play with the adapters that allow it to use all of my old autofocus Minolta lenses (some of them dating back to the mid-Eighties), as well as my handful of old manual-focus Nikon lenses (35/2.8, 50/1.4, 50-135/3.5, 135/2.8).

I also bought the flash adapter, but my little Sony flash (the no-longer-sold HLVF-20AM) kept turning itself off after a few minutes, and my big Metz flash wasn’t entirely compatible. There are no firmware updates for the Sony, but Metz is another story.

Sure, I had to scrounge up a VMware instance of Windows XP or Windows 7, but once I did, I was able to use the six-year-old updater on my Mac through a USB-C dongle. And now the flash isn’t caught in a zoom loop when I attach lenses wider than 70mm. The AF illuminator doesn’t work, but it still beats the pants off of the builtin.

For our next trip to Japan, though (April! April!), I’m thinking of getting one of the tiny shoe-mount LED video lights, which I might be able to use in some “no-flash” locations, and which also solves the AF-illuminator problem. It looks like Litra’s CES announcement has been leaked by Calumet, and perhaps Manfrotto will have an update to the Lumimuse as well (other than just adding Bluetooth). No rush on those, since I’ve got until April (April! April!).

And, no, I’m not planning to buy Sony’s new 400mm f/2.8. That’s a Lottery-Level Event. I’d need to retire just to find things worth pointing it at.

I might take my classic Minolta 70-210mm f/4 (roughly the size and weight of a 23-ounce can of AriZona Iced Tea, not counting the lens adapter), but only for specific outings where I expect to be able to put it to good use. I’ll leave the 18-105 on most of the time, unless I pick up a fast fixed lens for wandering around at night. Or not; honestly, with 24 mumbly-pixels, I can crop quite a bit, and the high-ISO performance is much better than my old body, even before you add in the multi-shot noise-reduction feature, which makes ISO 25600 surprisingly useful.

If I were going to Japan alone for 3+ weeks, I’d take at least a monopod and my footlong Minolta 100-400mm f/4.5-6.7; using only the center of it on an APS-C body improves its quality quite a bit, and if you can’t get close enough to your subject with an effective focal length of 600mm, you need to rethink your strategy (birders will disagree…).

Although I suppose I could break out the old 500mm f/8 Reflex…

(sadly, while I have the 300mm f/2.8 and matched 1.4x and 2x teleconverters, the TCs don’t work with the E-mount adapter)

Oh, and how good is it at delivering 24 mumbly-pixels, especially with a translucent-mirror lens adapter in the middle? Pretty darn good; that’s my old Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro (same lens, different penny), ISO 100, f/11, 4 second exposure, X-Fine JPEG, 2-second timer, cheap video tripod, cropped.

For shooting macro or using the 135mm STF long-distance portrait lens, I really ought to pick up the other Sony A-mount adapter that doesn’t have a mirror, screw drive, and autofocus sensors, but I think I’m okay with this one. Besides, my spare cash needs to go into the vacation fund (April! April!).

Update

The little Sony flash works better now; apparently it’s finicky about batteries, and the ones I had displeased it. Also, I’ve bought the LitraPro LED light, and it’s quite spiffy. Honestly, I’ll be surprised if I ever use it at over 25% power unless I’m trying to light half the temple.


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