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Thursday, 05 August 2010


Why buy the lens if you don't own the camera? Wouldn't it have made more sense to wait until you could afford the body as well?

After all, Sony could always surprise you by announcing a cheap 35 with IS at Photokina... thus crashing the market for the Minolta 35s.

Problem solved and its 'too easy' as they say. Just in case you have failed to notice impending birthday dates, (don't know why you failed in this dismal failure) my birthday is just around the corner, way before yours, Mike.

So while the stove is hot in your moth riddled wallet (and secret stash), give it to me and I'll give you a reciprocating act of extreme generosity, a copy file of the first frame I expose with that extremely desireable combination.

In fact I'll even save you a few bucks and (gracefully) accept a A850 body.

Well, Mike, it's not so expensive. You're about a quarter the way there on the total package.

The lens certainly looks in perfect nick. And the photo renders it enticingly. It IS what you said you need in order to make the A850/A900 work for you.

As you've said in relation with other gear, you know you can sell it for a similar amount if this experiment doesn't work out, or if you decide not to buy the body. (Though perhaps not if Sony DOES abandon full-frame 35mm digital).

Say, how's your still-new Mamiya 7II working out for you?

The financial experts always advise that saving up is always cheapest. I'm a bit wary of putting the cash inside books, though, having accidentally found some small caches that I'd completely forgotten about.

Why would one want a Sony lens with IS? The Sony cameras have in-body stabilisation.

Way back then, in Brazil, our singer-comedian-military dictatorship critic and exceedingly funny bard Juca Chaves (likeness below with funny teeth highlights) used to jest, at the beginning of his shows, with the acoustic guitar on his lap,

"Please help 'Juquijnha' buy his Jaguar"

The audience roared in laughter.

He actually meant it, and ended up with a terrific car collection, with the enthusiastic support from the audience, who knew they would keep coming to his shows and paying for his fancy cars.


Nice looking lens! It's worth having just as an ornament. And in the future you can probably sell it for more than what you paid - you know, when you want to get rid of the Alpha 850 kit for the 75 megapixel nano-four-thirds Nokia D9000.


I feel your pain. Everything you've done goes against the miser's creed. And yet, if you have come to the realization that you will ultimately be more miserable without the lens than with it, you have made the right decision, at least for you. The only "catch" is that you don't have a reliable camera to mount it on, and thereby no way to take pictures to increase your joy quotient. Your one hope is that by late fall the price of the Sony A900 or A850 will, uh... fall--at which point you can bask in the mixed emotions of getting a "bargain" while buying something that is clearly depreciating. Ah, the sweet joy of misery.

So, how much was it then?

A print sale may be in order. Or Nikon may pay you not to publish those leafy tree fotos.

It is good to have the lens, it avoids having to decide which brand to buy.

I have a Leica 50mm Summicron but no camera.

You saved up enough until you could buy the car, and now you want to do the same for the camera? What? Do you realize how out of touch you are with modern consumerism? Why, that's almost anachronistic. You're supposed to go into debt for the next 30 years to satisfy every whim, get with the program.

Yes on the garage sale? My E-P1 craves more MF units and I know you have the good stuff.

Mike, I'm in a similar boat. When I sold my M8 I kept one lens - a 50 Summicron - for the day when I can afford an M9. With that lens already in a drawer I can count on the promise to myself that some day I'll again have a rangefinder.

I admire your attitude. It worries me that we've gotten to the point where to wait a few days for something to be shipped to you, bought on credit, is hard to do. I scanned in hundreds of my grandfather's 6x6 slides, taken on a Japanese Rolleiflex copy. I remember him saying that "it wasn't a real rolleiflex" and I think he really would have liked one. But he (and I think, everyone else) was really careful with money back then, and I'm sure debt was never a real problem for him. And the pictures look great (he did spring for kodachrome, at least most of the time, thank god).

I think having to save for something over a long period makes the object more significant, and way more likely to get used in a constructive way.

Anyway, good on you.

I am asking this out of ignorance - does anybody actually know how this film-era lens actually performs, looks and feels on one of the FF Sony bodies? The obvious questions are lateral color and falloff, but there are other factors to think about...

Before our intrepid blogger starts loosing 100 dollar bills in the pages of Jane Eyre, I am curious if this is actually a particularly potent combo... Because right now this is sounding of "If I only had a MegaFlex 1000, then my photos would be good."

We have all been down that road, and it rarely goes where you are expecting...

You know, Mike, I think you should make a special appeal for funds to your readers. It would give us some satisfaction to be able to help you buy a camera you really wanted. My bet is that you'd have enough money to buy the camera (Sony A850 or 900 -- though probably not a Leica S2) within a month of asking.

Sounds like pure GAS Mike. I thought you didn't go for that?

Mike - You should now stop looking on eBay for that lens now. My friend Jeff Goggin hasn't learned that lesson and as soon as he buys what he wants, along comes a better offer. Move on.

Ah, the sign of a true Photographer: You have a lens! But no camera.

I bet you'll be fondling that lens, turning the focus ring left and right, opening up and closing the diaphragm while looking down the barrel... There's no shame in that, Mike; you're among friends :-)

Ah Mike, you're a braver man than I. I was never quite able to pull the trigger on that 35/2, mostly because I already own the 28/2, but also because I had a hard time justifying the price. Paying way more for something used than it ever sold for new, just irks me.

It amazes me that manufacturers do this to us. I had a similar problem in reverse. I ended up buying a Nikon D700 to fit my 35, 85 and 180 because I didn't want to buy lenses for the smaller cameras. And there was no real equivalent to a 35mm f2 for the small sensor cameras as far as I could tell.

You're not car poor right now!
You've got a growing teenage son!
You'll do just fine, besides the lens is more important than the camera.


Love it! I too won't buy unless I know it is paid for. It took me over eight months to save for a TV that I wanted (not needed of course as that falls into to a different purchase category). But it feels good to walk away with your purchase free and clear and during that time I shopped until I was sure of the unit I was going to buy, which of course if most of the fun!

"So, how much was it then?"

Let's see (reading figures burned into miser section of brain, as if with hot brand): $780 with shipping.

This really genuinely pains me to say.


That's the trouble with cameras. They have a term for it on some other photo websites: GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). Believe me, photo gear can be as bad for your wallet as a crack cocaine habit--and just about as addictive. I speak from experience....

You do realize, of course, that by dropping big money on that little Minolta, you have made it a mortal certainty that Sony will come out with a superior replacement before you get the scratch for the A850, right?

"does anybody actually know how this film-era lens actually performs, looks and feels on one of the FF Sony bodies?"

I do. I used one on a Sony A900 for a week when I did my reviews of the A900.


"I think you should make a special appeal for funds to your readers. It would give us some satisfaction to be able to help you buy a camera you really wanted."

I truly can't complain about the generosity of many of my readers. My current digital camera was a gift from a reader, although in a somewhat roundabout way. I would merely be being greedy by asking for more, believe me. No complaints, none.


Mike, I am sure you could find a film body for next to nothing so you can enjoy the lens until you're ready for the A900. If you want I'll even lend you my wife's Minolta X-700.

I know you've got it now, but wouldn't a Pentax DA 21mm have been close enough to a 35mm (equivalent) lens for a DSLR with IS?

You made the commitment to the Sony A850/900 by purchasing the Minolta lens. No turning back now.

The A850 is still on my wish list. Just not sure where I want to go with my next camera purchase.

My first SLR was a Minolta SRT 101 which I still have by the way. Minolta always had a great line of lenses but never got the press that Nikon and then Canon did.

Yeah, the Minolta/Sony system is quite frustrating. I was idly looking into switching to them from Canon because the Alpha 850/900 look like great bodies with class leading color rendition but.....

Their prime lens selection is infuriating. All the lenses I would want exist, but are out of production and are stupid expensive.

It's easy to get a reasonably priced 24mm f/2.8 prime, but as you've found out the 35mm f/2 is painfully expensive (almost as much as the Canon 35mm f/1.4 L). I've read that Sony can't re-make it because the design required leaded glass, which is banned in the EU. Even worse: they go and release a 35mm f/1.8 APS-C lens! Twisting the knife....it's evident there won't be a 35mm f/2 lens in the Sony lineup for a long long time.

They have an OK selection at 50mm, but the telephoto primes I'd want are, again, out of production. A Minolta 100mm f/2 is nearly the same price as the Canon 135mm f/2 L (and far more than the Canon 100mm f/2).

What's worse is that (with the exception of the 35mm lens) the Canon equivalents appear to be slightly better in image quality. I'm not interested in paying more money to get worse lenses.

It's hard to leave Canon/Nikon if you use anything more exotic than the standard zooms. They really have fabulous lens collections.

I am mildly intrigued at "I can put together a superlative sound system that I have absolutely no desire to upgrade, and for not very much money. Unfortunately, it can't be simply bought with money."
I don't suppose you'd be willing to expand on that sometime? I reached a point where "good enough for practical purposes" and "I have no time to sit and listen to music critically" intersected. I'm curious how much further I might theoretically have to go.

More on topic, I've been working on an essay on picking a standard for buying "new camera stuff". (Shorter essay: if you didn't get at least two stops improvement, you paid too much!")

$780.00 ????????

Holy Astringent Plum-like fruit, Batman!



Yes, it's a real Robin quote.... http://holysmokesbatman.com/tracks/holy-astringent-plum-like-fruit.html

My attempts at saving got me a Canon 20D 5+ years ago. Every time I save up $$$ something else, bigger or more urgent, comes along and there goes the cash.

Yet the 20D still takes great pictures and I've had no reason to really need a newer camera. Want? Sure! There are sexy new features but none that I can't live without.

Good luck on your savings plan and hopefully Santa Claus will be kind to you this year.

Take care,

I think Carl Zeiss glass for Sony is pretty much class leading for every model. The CZ 85/1.4 and CZ 135/1.8 are truly amazing and I wouldn't trade them for any Nikon or Canon equivalent. I agree that the Sony 35/1.4 is way overpriced but to be honest I don't find that this lens performs well in Nikon or Canon equivalents. Canon has the advantage with a 50/1.2 quality lens but I find the inexpensive Sony 50/1.4 to be a great lens. Perhaps the new CZ 24/2 will be the lens we've all been waiting for.

An extra fifty or hundred!?

You have a GF1 do you not? Buy an adapter for it,I know it's not the same but you never know.

David & Paul,

You spoke my mind. The good thing is that this kind of lens will grow a camera surrounding it so you don't need to buy a body :).

I feel your pain Mike. I've never really minded terribly shelling-out for photo gear with the exception of lenses. I love lenses and I appreciate what good ones can accomplish, but for some reason it wounds me to spend serious cash on one. Just one of those things I guess. The only consolation, I suppose, is that the pain eases with the passage of time. Then again, my Nikon 17-55/2.8 zoom is still killing me.

Hey, wasn't the wisdom on camera systems always to consider lens(es) first? Maybe they weren't exactly suggesting one buy a lens before one could afford the body, but you wouldn't be the first to go that route, either.

As I see it, Mike, you had little choice. The reputation of this lens, very high to begin with, has only risen as the already small supply diminished. If it was considered a bargain at $400-$500 in good used condition, $800 for what looks like a perfect copy of the improved version seems reasonable.

More importantly, it's the lens you want, and the body you want, with apparently no really good alternative.

Even if a modern equivalent magically appears in the next year or so, how likely is it to match the performance of the Minolta lens at anywhere near this price?

(I don't think the lens would fit an X-700. But my Maxxum 7000 is available for loan as well.)

Ever since you reviewed A850 on these pages, I have been thinking about getting it. However, the lack of small, light, and relatively affordable lenses in the current Sony lineup has been bothering me. I have fancied that someday in an estate sale, I will chance upon a mint condition Minolta 35mm SLR kit with the 35mm f2.0 and the 85mm f1.4 stored carefully in their original cases in mint condition. Alas, that hasn't happened yet and so I haven't bought an A850.

I've however, also noticed that the bigger my camera, the less number of photos I am going to take with it on average per year. So to satisfy my itch to experiment with the full frame and medium format aesthetics (primarily the ability to have a shallow depth of field and quality of the bokeh), I have added two kits to my collection. First is a Contax G1 with the 21mm, 35mm, 45mm, and the 90mm lenses all bought used but in mint condition. Second is a Mamiya C220 TLR with a similar selection of lenses - a medium wide, standard, and a medium telephoto. All of these together cost less than the A850 body and since I only expect to run about 12 roles of film through them every year, they should be quite economical.

Someday, I will get a small and lightweight digital full frame camera (as long as it is not made by Leica) with a matching set of prime lenses but until then this should do nicely.

The story of stashing away a little cash in a book made me chuckle. Several years ago the wife and I agreed to save $25 each every month for future travel. To do this, we made a monthly list and tucked it and the cash inside a tattered old pink sock in a dresser drawer. Both of us sometimes get behind, but we always catch up. When one or the other of us think about it we take the money to the bank and put it in the safe deposit box. There's a tidy sum accumulating in that old sock, waiting for the spirit to move us toward a trip to someplace we always thought we could never afford.

Saving toward a goal is a lot less painful than just saving for the sake of saving, I have found.

There's a modern savings device called a "credit card." You pay for the camera with a "credit card," and you get the camera immediately. Then,instead of sticking money in books, you put it in an envelope and send it to the "credit card company." Eventually, it's paid off. The result is the same, except that you get to use the camera immediately. I'd look into it, if I were you.

It's not often that I receive my minimum daily adult requirement of humor at TOP. The mosquito and lens stories made me LOL. I'm from Minnesota--a LONG way from Minnesota--so I understand the mosquito problem, but I've never read a more humorous treatment of them. Good luck.

I caught the fotografer bug in April of 2000 and bought, used, and outgrew a couple digital cameras that summer. When Canon announced the D30 that fall, I began accumulating lenses and LOTS of other stuff for that body. Eventually I had 2 D30s, then 2 D60s, then a 1Ds. By that time, almost all of that 'stuff' prepurchased for the D30 was gone. I hope you get the Sony digital body you want, and soon, as I admire your fiscal discipline. To assist, I just contributed. Good luck.

And hello to my goodbuddyfellowfotogs Jeffrey Goggin--I never heard that $700 story!--and Jim Witkowski; looks like old-home week. And how coincidental is it that all four of us are also hi-end audiofools?

"There's a modern savings device called a 'credit card.'"

I tried one of those once, 25 years ago, and it didn't go so well. It was right after I got my first "job with benefits," teaching in a high school for $17,000 a year. I was offered a credit card through the teachers' credit union. I figured if I was entitled to it, why not? It had a credit limit of $1,500.

I quickly bought $1,500 worth of CDs (the music carrier, not the financial instrument), which were fairly new at the time. They then canceled my new credit card. Then I sent them money for what seemed like a very long time--quite a bit more than $1,500, if I recall correctly. I learned then that credit and I don't get along very well. It's not like I've never borrowed money--I have--but I've never had a credit card since.


How is buying a 35mm lens going to
make you a better photographer?
Henri Cartier-Bresson used a Leica
with a 50mm lens exclusively and
he was satisfied.

Apropos of Ken Tanaka's story, a few months back, I succumbed to the itch to try out a Hasselblad SWC, the ultimate Point'NShoot. I "won" one on the Bay. It was packed like a rare instrument (which it is). It came with notes from the seller telling me just how much it had meant to him during a long period of professional use. I've since sent along pictures from its first rolls in my hands, and felt obliged to meet a higher standard with it ever since.


Look at it this way ... the A850 is 2.5X the price of a 35/2. That's peanuts !

I hope the lens is a beauty. It's highway robbery what they're getting for them these days. I have a 28/2 that I bought NOS before prices skyrocketed. I actually had a 35/2 briefly that I bought for under $300 (NOS) but decided I really wanted the 28 (since it was for APS-C). I also have a 400mm that's worth more used than I paid for it new. But OTOH, I've sold lenses that people are now selling for hundreds more. (I'm a really lousy seller. I hate overpaying as a buyer and feel guilty overcharging as a seller.)

Think of it this way. $780 is really cheap.

A Nikon with the 35 2.0 with a 24 megapixel camera is $7,400 for the camera body and $250 for the lens.

A Sony A850 is only $1999.

A Canon 5d ii is $2499 + $300 for the 35 2.0

Same price as the Canon and you get 3 megapixels for free.


I would like to ask a favor since I don't have Ken Tanaka's email address. I have my father's Rolleiflex T that I dearly love. I would like to have it overhauled and was wondering where Ken had his done.

Much obliged,


Something I forgot to tell with that NEX report. Somebody here had wanted to know whether A900 was discontinued. So I asked.

The woman from Sony (she's somebody in higher echelons of Sony Europe, I don't remember the exact position) said no, it was not discontinued. But that we might see an adjustment in price to reflect the camera's relation to A850 more accurately.

Hopefully, Mike, that means your wait might not be as long as you think.

Dear George,

Following on from the first 25 steps, as outlined in my previous letter...

The problem with the credit card is the interest. Credit cards are really only a convenient way to spend money you already have without carrying the cash around.

@David M. : The Canon lenses are superior only in some regards. Typically the Canon's are a bit sharper, AF a bit faster and have better flare resistance, the Minolta's have much nicer colour and smoother oof rendering. Given that the Minolta lenses are sharp enough for my uses, the Canon lenses are much less interesting due to the poor colour rendition that non-L Canon glass so often suffers from.

The A 35/2 suffers from ridiculous pricing on the used market, much like Pentax's A* 85mm f1.4. That's the penalty for rarity. It never sold well due to the 35G and 28/2 which coincidentally is much cheaper than the 35/2, an unusual inversion in pricing.

Personally I'm moving slowly towards an all-Minolta setup (Film shooter here, so my weapon of choice is the Maxxum 7, not an A850/900). The 35/2's not on my list though, I'm just not really a 35 guy, I'll get the 28/2 instead.

I've got to say I'm a bit jealous. The lack of modern, affordable primes on the Sony system is frustrating, especially that it's nearly all I shoot with. But I stick with Sony because I dearly love the cameras. The ergonomics and image quality of my a850 is fantastic. Also, having all of my prime lenses stabilized on a full-frame sensor is extremely useful.

I searched long and hard for a 35/2 at a reasonable price a year ago and couldn't find one. I ended up with a 28/2 instead for about $500. It's a lovely lens, though I always felt that the FOV was a little weird. Almost too wide, but at the same time, not wide enough.

Recently, I managed to grab a 35/1.4 for $720, which was a great deal, and I'm really enjoying it. However, I'm still kind of jealous. The 35/2 has it's own excellent brand of image quality that I would still love to try out one of these days.

I hope you like it…once you nab that a850 or a900.

Now if only we could get Sony to upgrade their flash system…

Hey Everyone, I think I hit the jack pot when it comes to lenses. I met a fellow who had a minolta maxxum 9000 camera. With it came super 90 program back and four lenses. these four lenses of the three were primary lenses. The first one of these G type lenses are a 20mm F/2.8, 50mm f1.4, 85mm f1.14 and a 35-70f/1.4(macro lens).( All minolta lenses) I am curous to find out what the true value of these lenses are?

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