Sunday, 4 July 2010

Minolta 35-70mm f4 Quick Test Pt2

Went out this afternoon to put the a200 and 35-70mm through their paces with the other side of my photography - landscapes.

I set the camera to f11 to give me good depth of field, and probably the sweet spot in terms of overall lens sharpness. Then I headed out to the coast road, and to our local wharf area.

There was some nice low late afternoon winter light coming in off the sea, so I stopped at a popular spot along the coast to take grab a view of the coastline. Even though the 35mm end equates to around 52mm (normal field of view) in traditional terms, I still got enough of the scene in to suggest an expansive landscape. It may not be ultra-wide, but it's good enough.

Although only really a 'grab' shot, I do like the light coming in from the left, forming those shadowed curves in the sea from the breaking waves. And not surprisingly, at f11 everything is super sharp - from front to back. I'm liking this little lens more and more every time I use it.

Then it was off to the wharf. There are a couple of old cranes that have been a part of the Greymouth urban landcsape for as long as anyone can remember - but they are in danger of being torn down now by the council. They are old - and probably dangerous (they are fenced off from the public), but make a great subject. I decided I'd better photograph them before they disappear. 

One criticism leveled at the 35-70mm f4 lens is that it's prone to flare. The lens hood that is supposed to go with it is very small and doesn't give much protection from glare, so I decided to use a deeper rubber one instead. I shot with the sun just outside the frame to 'torture-test' the lens, and although I did get flare in some of the images, overall I thought it handled my 'worst-case-scenario' very well.

I also decided to shoot with the sun full in the frame, and was surprised with the result. The sensor on the Sony handled it beautifully, and I got my favorite shot of the evening.

The late afternoon sun was casting some beautiful golden light, ideal for shooting this building down at an historical park at the end of the wharf. Still on f11, the 35-70mm is a beautifully sharp lens, and I really love the colours it produces. Very true to life - yet quite vibrant at the same time.

As I was leaving, I saw that the building silhouetted nicely with a couple of cabbage trees, and I couldn't resist taking a few last shots. I have the a200 set on 'standard' Dynamic Range Optimiser, yet I was still surprised at the amount of detail retained in the black shadows of the RAW file - even though the histogram of the jpeg on the lcd screen showed clipping.

So I've used the Sony a200 over the weekend now, paired with the Minolta 35-70mm f4 lens - a combination that all-up cost me $350.00NZ. I've used it to take portraits, landscapes, and macros - tortured it with sun, and checked it out for sharpness. And as far as I'm concerned it's passed everything with flying colours (almost literally :-) Am I happy with the purchase? You bet I am.

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