Minolta AF/Sony Alpha F.A.Q.
These are some questions that I've encountered frequently, with answers, of course. When the following text says “Minolta”, most of the time the same applies also for “Konica Minolta” and “Sony Alpha”.
Do Anti-Shake and Super Steady Shot really work, even with longer lenses?
Yes, they do work. It's been rumored often that in-lens systems are more effective, especially with longer lenses. This is wrong. The camera knows the focal length from the lens, and it adjusts its corrections according to which lens is used. Real-world tests have confirmed that these in-body systems are just as effective as in-lens systems, even with longer lenses.
Do Anti-Shake and Super Steady Shot work with all lenses?
Yes, with very few exceptions. AS/SSS should be turned off with the following lenses:
- 3×-1× macro zoom
- lenses with a mechanical focus range limiter when the limiter was activated when the lens was in the near range (i.e. when the camera could not focus the lens to infinity during power-on). The electronic focus range limiter of SSM lenses is compatible with AS.
Does my camera have a backfocus issue?
In a AF SLR there are three light pathes:
- From the lens, via the mirror, onto the matte screen (when the mirror is down)
- From the lens onto the sensor/film (when the mirror is up and the shutter is open)
- From the lens, through the mirror, via a secondary mirror, down onto the AF sensors (when the mirror is down)
|light path with mirror down|
|light path with mirror up|
To focus correctly, all three light pathes have to be the same length. If one of them is slightly shorter or longer, the three images seen by the photographer in the viewfinder, by the AF sensors and by the sensor/film will not match. For example:
- When the matte screen is misaligned, focusing with AF will result in sharp images, but in the viewfinder they look out of focus. At the same time, when focusing manually, the resulting images will be out of focus. Check if the matte screen is mounted correctly.
- When the AF sensors are misaligned, focusing with AF will result in out of focus images, both in the viewfinder and as a final result. Focusing manually will result in correctly focused images.
- When the sensor/film is misaligned, both focusing manually and with AF will result in correctly focused images in the viewfinder, but the resulting image on the sensor/film is out of focus.
When you try to test your camera, it's best to use a lens with a shallow depth of field (e.g. a 50/1.4 or a 100/2.8 macro) and shoot wide open. Otherwise a deep depth of field may bury small amounts of misfocus.
Also note that these focusing problems are never a lens problem but always a camera problem! Auto-focus is a feedback loop, and the camera will move the lens to what it considers the best focus. If you had a lens with a slightly misadjusted focusing barrel, the camera would simply move the lens further or less far to achieve an in-focus image. AF never moves the focusing barrel to some pre-determined distance and expects a focused image there. When you have a really banged-up lens, e.g. with loose lens elements, you will never get a sharp image at any point, or severe chromatic abberations, distortions or vignetting, but never images with the focus at the wrong distance. If you see different results with different lenses, it's always that the same amount of misfocus (caused by the camera) will result in different levels of unsharpness, depending on depth of field and the lens' optical construction.
OK, here's how you test your camera:
- Choose a single AF sensor, e.g. the center sensor.
- Don't aim your camera at a test object at an angle. The AF sensor may not be exactly at the spot that's indicated in the viewfinder, and there are patterns at different distances covered by the AF sensor. You never know which part the camera actually focused on, so such a test will not tell you anything.
- Instead, choose objects that are flat and not too small (should be at least twice as big as the AF sensor's indicator in the viewfinder) and place them at staggered distances from the camera. The objects must have some contrasty patterns for AF to work well. The backs of books or CD covers are good objects. Use a tripod. Make sure you have enough light.
- Shoot with wide open aperture. Focus manually and with auto-focus. In both cases, the object which you focused on should be the sharpest one. Objects closer to the camera or farther away should never be sharper than the one you intended to be in focus.
- Check the resulting images. If you find misfocus in your manually focused images, the matte screen or sensor may be misaligned. If you find misfocus in your AF'ed images, the AF sensors or image sensor may be misaligned.
- Repeat your tests to exclude possible user errors.
- If you find different results when using lateral AF sensors instead of the central sensors, the AF sensors or image sensor may not be precisely perpendicular to the optical axis. Also see “Is the sensor in my camera aligned correctly?”.
If you find a problem, send your camera to a service facility. They have the knowledge and equipment to find the root cause and re-adjust the sensors.
Is the sensor in my camera aligned correctly?
There are three possible problems with the alignment of the sensor in a DSLR.
- The sensor is not placed at the correct distance from the lens mount, causing backfocus or frontfocus. See “Does my camera have a backfocus issue?”.
- The sensor is not aligned perpendicular to the optical axis. This will cause an image in which focus shifts from left to right, top to bottom, or from one corner to the other.
- The sensor is tilted left or right, causing tilted images.
Here's how you can test for the latter two problems. You need:
- Your camera and a lens with a narrow depth of field, e.g. a 50/1.4 or a 100/2.8 macro. As above, a large depth of field may hide the problem.
- A tripod.
- A mirror. It can be either hanging on the wall or lying on the floor.
- A long straight object, e.g. a longer ruler, piece of wood etc.
Test for #2:
- Mount the camera on the tripod and aim it at the mirror. The center of the lens in the mirrored image must be exactly in the center of the viewfinder. This aligns the optical axis exactly perpendicular with the mirror, without using any measuring equipment.
- Place a sheet of paper flat on the mirror, e.g. a page from your newspaper. The paper should be as flat a possible on the mirror.
- Re-focus manually so that the center of the page is in focus.
- Shoot with wide open aperture.
If the newspaper is equally sharp across the picture, the sensor is aligned correctly. If it's sharp in the center and increasingly unsharp towards the edges (equal in all directions), this may be caused by decreasing edge performance of the lens, or by field curvature (i.e. the fact that the plane of focus with this lens is not perfectly flat). If you vary focus slightly, and at some point the edges are sharper than the center, it's field curvature.
If, however focus shifts linearly from left to right, top to bottom or from one corner to the opposite corner, the sensor is probably misaligned.
Test for #3:
- You don't need the tripod for this test.
- Hold the long straight object flat against the base of the camera.
- Again, aim your camera at the mirror, with the mirror image of the lens exactly in the center of the viewfinder.
- You don't have to hold your camera horizontally, it doesn't matter.
- Make a few test shots.
If in the resulting images the camera base is always horizontal (as seen from the object that you held at the base), the sensor is aligned correctly. But if it's always tilted to one side, the sensor may be misaligned.
Why can't I record videos with the 7D, 5D or Sony Alpha DSLRs?
These cameras are true SLRs, i.e. they have a flip-up mirror and a mechanical shutter. The CCD is only exposed to light when the mirror is flipped up and the shutter is opened. Furthermore, the CCD is not designed to be read out while it is still exposed to light. The shutter must be closed to read out the image. Lastly, auto-focus and exposure metering require the mirror to be down. Otherwise the AF sensors and metering sensors receive no light, and you also wouldn't see anything in the viewfinder. With true DSLRs it is not possible to hold the mirror flipped up and the shutter opened and read out images at video frame rates.
The DLSR-A580, DLSR-A560, and all SLT models do allow video recording.
Why can't I see a live preview of the image on the back LCD of the 7D, 5D, α100, α2xx, α700 or α900?
I've mounted a lens with an adapter, but my camera doesn't release. What's the problem?
This is caused by a feature named “lens mount check” or “lens lock” of most camera bodies. When the camera detects a mounted lens but can not communicate with it (e.g. because it has no electronics), it blocks shutter release. Since most adapters and corresponding lenses do indeed have no electronics, you will run into this feature when using adapters.
The lens mount check can be de-activated with most cameras. The camera will then release the shutter even if it has troubles talking to the lens. Here's a list how to de-activate this feature with individual cameras:
|Minolta Dynax||Minolta Maxxum||Procedure|
|5xi||5xi||Press and hold SPOT and FUNC buttons while turning on camera.|
|7xi, 9xi||7xi, 9xi||Press and hold AEL and FUNC buttons while turning on camera.|
|300si||300si/350si/330si||Press and hold FLASH and DRIVE/SELFTIMER buttons while turning on camera.|
|500si||400si/450si/430si||Press and hold DRIVE MODE and AV buttons while turning on camera.|
|500si Super||500si/550si/530si||Press and hold DRIVE MODE and SPOT buttons while turning on camera.|
|505si/505si Super||XTsi/HTsi/HTsi plus||Press and hold SELF TIMER and SPOT buttons while turning on camera.|
|600si||600si||Press and hold LENS RELEASE and FILM SPEED button with the lens removed while turning on camera.|
|700si||700si||Press and hold SPOT and CARD buttons while turning on camera.|
|800si||800si||Press and hold SUBJECT PROGRAM and AEL buttons while turning on camera.|
|RD-175||RD-175||Press and hold DRIVE/SELFTIMER and AV buttons while turning on camera.|
|404si||STsi||Press and hold P and SELF TIMER buttons with Function Dial at ME while turning on camera.|
|303si||QTsi||Press and hold MODE and SELF TIMER buttons while turning on camera.|
|3L||3/GT||Press and hold SUBJECT PROG and DRIVE while turning on camera.|
|4, 5, 60, 7, 9, 7D, 5D||4, 5, 70, 7, 9, 7D, 5D||The lock can be de-activated with the camera's custom functions. Check your camera manual!|
|30, 40||50||Press and hold drive mode button while turning on camera.|
|DSLR-A100, DSLR-A560, DSLR-A580, DSLR-A700, DSLR-A850 (firmware 2.00), DSLR-A900 (firmware 2.00),|
all SLT cameras
|The lock can be de-activated with the camera's custom functions. Check your camera manual!|
|DSLR-A200, DSLR-A230, DSLR-A300, DSLR-A330, DSLR-A350, DSLR-A380, DSLR-A450, DSLR-A500, DSLR-A550,|
DSLR-A850 (firmware 1.00), DSLR-A900 (firmware 1.00)
|The lock is de-activated when using M mode. In the other modes it's always active.|
The lens mount check can not be deactivated for the 2xi, 3xi and SPxi. The AF series and i series cameras do not have a lens mount check.
Where can I download a manual for my camera?
Manuals in PDF format for Minolta and Konica Minolta cameras can be downloaded from the following locations:
All are available in English languange, and some in additional languages. Please check the camera table to find the corresponding name for your camera.
Manuals for Sony DSLRs can be downloaded here:
- Sony Support (or go to your local Sony web site and visit the support section)
Can I use the α100's batteries in the α700?
The α700 requires NP-FM500H Info-Lithium batteries. You can not use the α100's batteries (NP-FM55H) in the α700 (you can not even load it). The NP-FM500H also works in the α100, but not the other way round. However, the battery chargers AC-VQ900AM and BC-VM10 (supplied with camera) can charge both types of batteries.
How can I check the total number of shots taken with a camera?
There are only indirect indicators. The 7 and the 9 with DM-9 back can be set up to count the film rolls that were used while recording exposure data. You can estimate the number of frames shot using the roll number. However, the counter can easily be reset by the user, so the estimate can be a lot lower than the actual number of shots.
With digital cameras it's possible to use consecutive frame numbers as file names. Again, the counter can easily be reset, and the number is limited to 4 or 5 digits, so it wraps around after 10000 or 100000 shots.
With later digital cameras from Sony the number of shutter actuations is stored in the EXIF data of image files, in various formats. An explanation of the formats and a tool to read out the data can be found here. But note that shutter actuations and pictures taken are not the same number, especially with features like in-camera panoramas, HDR, main sensor live view, etc., where the shutter can be moving more than once per picture.
Essentially, a normal camera user without special tools can not see the precise total number of shutter actuations.
Why does my camera only take images at 72 dpi?
The short answer is, there's nothing wrong, and it doesn't matter at all.
Here's the long answer: the 7D, for example, always records 3008×2000 pixels at full resolution, no matter which dpi number is written in the EXIF data. With any other dpi number, the actual image information would not change in any way. If you wanted to be technically correct, the recording resolution would have to be 3251.2 dpi.
The dpi number only becomes somewhat relevant when you output the image, e.g. when you print it. For example, if your printer prints at 300 dpi, the above image printed 1:1 would result in a (3008÷300)"×(2000÷300)" = 10"×6.7" print. Or, if you wanted a 15"×10" print, you'd have to print at (3008÷15) = 200 dpi. In many image processing software packages you don't even have to know the dpi number. You just load the image and print it on a given paper size, and the image processing software, the printer driver and the printer are doing all these calculations.
You may ask why the resolution number is added to the EXIF data at all when it's actually irrelevant until you print the image. Well, the resolution numbers are mandatory items in the EXIF info, so if a camera maker wants to be compliant with the EXIF standard they have to add the info and pick some number. But why is irrelevant information made mandatory? This should be food for thought for JEITA, the inventor of EXIF.
My camera reverts to default settings every time I turn it off. Why?
Your camera is probably in green [P] mode or Auto or Auto+ mode or in one of the scene modes. In these modes the camera resets many settings to default values when you enter the mode (including by turning it on). For the camera to keep these settings you have to use one of the other modes, i. e. P, A, S or M.
Which lens works with which camera?
The following table outlines the compatibility of A-mount and E-mount lenses and cameras.
|Minolta AF||Minolta xi||Minolta|
(7 and newer,
incl. updated 9)
|Minolta DSLR||Sony DSLR||Sony SLT||Sony NEX/ILCE||Sony full-frame NEX/ILCE||Sony NEX/ILCE|
–=incompatible; ●=works; ○=works with restrictions: ¹=no motorized zoom; ²=no ADI metering; ³=no AF; ⁴=strong vignetting
Do I have to install all intermediate versions of a camera firmware, or can I just install the latest version?
All Sony firmware upgrades always contain the full firmware, i. e. they also include all improvements of earlier versions. You can install the latest version immediately and skip intermediate upgrades.
Do I have to install the firmware upgrade downloaded from my local Sony server?
All Sony firmware upgrades for a particular camera are the same for all regions of the world. They contain all languages and features, and they can be installed on all regional versions of the camera. So if you own e. g. the North American version of a camera, you can still download the firmware upgrade from Sony Japan's website and install it.
Which languages are available after installation, and which features are present (e. g. GPS or no GPS), of course depends on the regional version of the camera, but not on the source of the firmware upgrade. This also means that you can not change the selection of languages by installing a firmware from a different region (because the firmware itself is in fact not different).
Will my Minolta lenses work on Sony Alpha DSLRs/SLTs?
All AF (precisely: Minolta A mount) lenses from Minolta, Konica Minolta and Sony work on Sony Alpha DSLRs (and, of course, on the Konica Minolta 7D and 5D, too).
Minolta MC/MD (precisely: Minolta SR mount) lenses do not work on these cameras directly. Also see question “Do my Minolta manual focus lenses work on the Minolta 7D or 5D or Sony Alpha DSLRs/SLTs?”.
Can I use my old APO converters with my SSM lenses, or do I have to buy the new D version?
The main difference between the D converters and the older versions are the three additional contacts. These are required to transfer the distance information from the lens to the body and to let the body control the in-lens AF motor. There's no other difference between the D and non-D versions. You can use the older versions with SSM lenses, but you will lose the D function and have to focus manually. For AF and ADI you will need the D converters or the Sony converters.
Can the 80-200/2.8 be damaged if I mount the Minolta converters?
That's a myth. You can't mount the converters, and the lens elements of lens and converter will never collide (unless you use a sledgehammer as a mounting tool). The rubber protection ring around the TC's front element touches the rear protection cage of the lens before the bayonet flanges even get near to each other. See this image:
|80-200/2.8 and APO converter|
Do my Minolta manual focus lenses work on the Minolta 7D or 5D or Sony Alpha DSLRs/SLTs?
Not directly. There are adapters and combined teleconverters/adapters to mount Minolta SR lenses on Minolta AF and Sony Alpha cameras. However, there are a number of disadvantages and limitations:
- Even the simple adapters contain optical elements to allow the lens to focus to infinity. These have a small teleconverter effect (ca. 1.1×) and also have a negative impact on image quality.
- Adapters without electronics do not transmit any information about the lens to the camera. This means that e. g. SSS/AS will not work. You also have to disable the lens mount check to allow the camera to release the shutter when it does not recognize a lens. See “I've mounted a lens with an adapter, but my camera doesn't release. What's the problem?”.
- Adapters with electronics do transmit some fixed or preconfigured information to the camera. SSS/AS will work, but not to the best possible effect.
- Of course, adapters will not convert your MF lens to a AF lens.
- You have to use stop-down metering because the aperture is also manual.
All in all I don't recommend using SR mount lenses on AF camera.
Do the Minolta converters work with the 80-200/2.8?
No. You can't even mount the converters on this lens. The lens table indicates which lenses are compatible with the converters. Also see “Can the 80-200/2.8 be damaged if I mount the Minolta converters?”.
For the 80-200/2.8 you have to use generic TCs made by third-party manufacturers, e. g. Kenko, Soligor, Tamron or (for some) Sigma.
Does Minolta make generic teleconverters?
No. Minolta's converters only fit on certain lenses. Check the lens table. Generic teleconverters for Minolta A mount are made by Kenko and other third-party manufacturers.
I have a G lens, but there's no “G” on the lens. Is it really a G lens?
No Minolta G lens has “G” written anywhere on the lens. You can find the “G” designation only on the box. Only Sony has started putting the G designation also on the lens itself. Furthermore, there are only minor differences between the non-G version and G version of one lens, so even the non-G version has the same build quality and image quality of the later G version.
Check the lens table to see which lens in which version you have.
Is the STF lens a soft-focus lens?
No. The plane of focus is always fully sharp with the STF lens. What's special is how the STF lens renders the parts of the image that are out of focus. Read Magnus Wedberg's review for an explanation of how this lens works. Also read Mladen Sever's review of the Sony version.
My lens can focus past infinity. Is it broken?
This is perfectly normal. Many AF lenses can focus past infinity, for one or several of the following reasons:
- Some zoom lenses vary focus slightly when zoomed to varying focal lengths. So while they focus to infinity at one position of the focus ring, they focus past or before infinity at the same position but at a different focal length.
- Large lenses can expand with increasing temperature, changing focus as they expand, and they need the extra focus range to make sure they can be focused to infinity even after they were exposed to the heat of the sun.
- Auto-focus can overshoot the infinity mark when it hunts for correct focus. With some extra room after infinity focus, the AF system can detect the overshot and has a chance to stop the AF motor before a mechanical end stop is hit. This reduces mechanical strain and wear of the AF motor and gearing.
What's a “D” lens?
These lenses contain a distance encoder. This allows the camera to read the current focus distance from the lens. The information is used for ADI flash, and the Dynax 7 can also calculate DOF with this information. With non-D lenses you can not use ADI with many cameras. See the Flash Compendium for details.
What's a “DT” lens?
These lenses produce a smaller image circle than normal 35 mm lenses. The image circle is only large enough to cover the APS-C size frame of current DSLRs. You can mount these lenses on film cameras, but you will get heavy vignetting (dark image corners). So essentially, these lenses are only suited for DSLRs.
What's a “G” lens?
The G designation is used for several high-quality lenses, indicating high build quality, excellent optical performance, relatively large aperture, etc. Note that a missing G designation doesn't indicate low quality. Some of the best lenses in the Minolta and Sony lineup are non-G lenses.
What's a “RS” lens?
“RS” means “re-styled”. This refers to a few lenses that were re-released with updated finish. In some cases, a circular aperture was added, but generally the optical design was unchanged. The lens table refers to these lenses as “new”.
What's a “SSM” lens?
SSM lenses contain a ultrasonic ring motor for auto-focus. The AF motor of these lenses can only be controlled by the Dynax/Maxxum/Alpha 7 and all later film and digital SLRs, plus by the Dynax/Maxxum/Alpha 9 after a firmware upgrade. You can mount these lenses also on older Minolta AF cameras, and everything except AF works, but you have to focus manually.
What's a “xi” lens?
These lenses were introduced with the xi series cameras. They feature an in-lens motor that is used for both power-assisted manual focus and body-controlled motorized zoom. Three additional lens contacts allow the body to control this motor and to feed more power to the lens. An xi series (or later) body is required to use these lenses. However, the auto-zoom feature is no longer supported by bodies after the 700si.
Will my Sigma/Tamron/Tokina etc. lenses work on Sony Alpha DSLRs/SLTs?
All Sigma/Tamron/Tokina etc. lenses with Minolta A mount should work on Sony Alpha DSLRs/SLTs. I say “should” here because there are several Sigma lenses that do not work on some Minolta AF and Sony Alpha bodies. These have compatibility problems that can only be fixed by Sigma. Some older Sigma lenses can no longer be updated. Contact Sigma for details.
Of course, Sigma/Tamron/Tokina etc. lenses with other mount systems (e.g. Canon EF, Nikon, etc.) do not work on Sony Alpha DSLRs/SLTs.
What's a “(N)” lens?
Same as “RS”, “i” or “new”. See “What's a “RS” lens?”.
What's a “i” lens?
Same as “RS”, “(N)” or “new”. See “What's a “RS” lens?”.
Do new Konica Minolta and Sony lenses work on older Minolta bodies?
All AF lenses from Minolta, Konica Minolta and Sony work on all bodies, with the following exceptions and restrictions:
- DT lenses do not work on film cameras. Also see “What's a “DT” lens?”. You can mount them, but you will get severe vignetting.
- SSM lenses can be mounted on cameras older than the 7, but you have to focus manually. Also see “What's a “SSM” lens?”.
- xi lenses require an xi or later body to work correctly. Also see “What's a “xi” lens?”.
- Sony E-mount lenses (for NEX cameras) do not work on A-mount cameras.
All other lenses can be used with all bodies, and AF, metering and aperture control will work as expected. Of course, you will not be able to use new lens features with old bodies. For example, using a (D) lens will not get you ADI capable flash on pre-ADI-capable bodies.
Of course, AF lenses will not work on Minolta MF (SR mount) bodies.
Why do some lenses have 5 contacts, and some have 8?
The original Minolta A mount had 5 lens contacts. Later, with the xi generation of cameras and lenses, 3 contacts were added. These were used as an additional power source and an additional communication path. They were required for the auto-zoom feature of xi lenses. Also see “What's a “xi” lens?”.
Later, the three additional contacts were also used for the (D) and SSM function. Also see “What's a “D” lens?” and “What's a “SSM” lens?”. So xi, D and SSM lenses necessarily have 8 contacts, while non-xi, non-D and non-SSM lenses need only 5 contacts. Basic information about focal length, aperture, etc. is communicated via the 5 original contacts. This means that even on older 5-contact bodies you can use 8-contact lenses. Of course, ADI, SSM and auto-zoom won't work, then, but basic metering and program mode operation will work just fine.
For TCs, extension tubes, etc. this also means that they need to have 8 contacts if you want to use a D lens or SSM lens and not loose these functions. When using a 5-contact TC or extension tube, you won't be able to use ADI or SSM.
Can I stack the Minolta/Sony APO teleconverters?
Basically, you can not stack them for the same reason you can not mount them on a lens that is not designed for it. The protruding front element of the rear TC touches the rear element of the front TC before the bayonet flanges even come close. Also see “Can the 80-200/2.8 be damaged if I mount the Minolta converters?”. You also can not use a thin extension tube between the two converters. While it provides some space, its inner diameter is typically not large enough for the front element of the rear TC.
You can, at most, use a generic TC behind a Minolta/Sony APO TC mounted on a matching lens. However, the resulting image quality will probably not excite you.
Do the Minolta/Sony APO teleconverters work with third-party lenses?
Why is the STF lens manual focus?
This is neither caused by the speed of the lens (it's effective aperture is 4.5 while the geometric aperture is 2.8) nor by any mechanical reason, as Internet folklore often suggests. So even SSM wouldn't help to make it AF. The reason is how the AF sensors in the camera work.
Simply speaking, phase detection AF sensors are CCD line sensors with split prisms in front of them. When light is focused by the lens, an activation pattern is produced by the sensors, depending on how much the image is out of focus. The camera then can re-focus the lens so that a typical in-focus activation pattern is reached on the sensors, indicating that the object you aimed on is in focus. The apodization filter in the STF lens, on the other hand, filters out parts of the light from out-of-focus objects so that the smooth transition from in-focus image to out-of-focus image is achieved (which is the purpose of this lens). Unfortunately, this filtered-out light is also the light that is used by the AF sensors. So there's no usable light pattern reaching the AF sensors, and a phase detection AF system can not work with a STF lens. That's also why you get no focus confirmation with the STF lens, because this would also require working AF sensors.
What is the “Beercan Lens”?
Which Minolta/Sony TC works with which lens?
●=no restrictions, ◙=works, but not recommended, ○=works with restrictions
¹=no AF, ²=no ADI, ³=AF hunting, ⁴=slow AF
All other combinations do not work. Also see “Do the Minolta converters work with the 80-200/2.8?”, “Can I use my old APO converters with my SSM lenses, or do I have to buy the new D version?” and “Do the Minolta/Sony APO teleconverters work with third-party lenses?”.
I get massive overexposure with some lenses. What's the problem?
Most likely the aperture of the lens is sticky, and this is most often caused by oil on the aperture blades.
In the Sony/Minolta mount the aperture is held open by the body, and during exposure a spring in the lens closes down the aperture to the desired position. When the aperture doesn't close quickly enough, too much light falls through the lens during exposure, and the shot is overexposed. The most common reason for sticky apertures is oil that seeps out of the lubricants in the lens and creeps between the aperture blades. In some cases the spring in the lens is broken or unhinged. In rare cases the aperture's counterpart in the camera body is stuck.
This problem is easily diagnosed as follows: unmount the lens, pull open the lens aperture at the lens mount (e. g. with a matchstick), then let go. The aperture should snap closed immediately. If it takes longer than a fraction of a second, it's probably too slow. You may also see the shiny oil on the aperture blades.
Some lenses are especially prone to this problem, e. g. the 50/1.7 and the 70-210/4. The aperture can be cleaned to solve the problem, although when you can't do it yourself, it may be cheaper to buy a working replacement from the second hand market.
What's a “SAM” lens?
SAM lenses contain a micro motor for auto-focus. The AF motor of these lenses can only be controlled by the Dynax/Maxxum/Alpha 7 and all later film and digital SLRs, plus by the Dynax/Maxxum/Alpha 9 after a firmware upgrade. You can mount these lenses also on older Minolta AF cameras, and everything except AF works, but you have to focus manually.
There is an unmarked button on my lens. What is it good for?
This button is mainly used as a Focus Hold Button. When you use AF-C mode you can stop AF by pressing and holding the button. When you release the button AF will restart. The purpose of this function is to lock AF when a subject has stopped moving, and the locked AF allows you to recompose without changing focus. When the subject starts moving again, you can follow it quickly by just releasing the button.
When you are in matrix metering mode, locking AF with this button will also temporarily lock metering.
On several newer cameras you can assign a different function to the lens button, e. g. DOF preview. This is done via the camera setup menu.
Some lenses have more than one lens button. They always have the same function.
Can I use E-mount lenses on Sony Alpha DSLRs?
No, these lenses only work on E-mount cameras. There is no adapter.
Can I use A-mount lenses on NEX/ILCE cameras?
You can use A-mount (Minolta AF, Sony Alpha) lenses on E-mount cameras (Sony NEX/ILCE) with the lens adapters LA-EA1/LA-EA2/LA-EA3/LA-EA4. The following restrictions apply:
- Minolta xi lenses can not be used.
- The Minolta 3×–1× Macro Zoom can not be used.
- The Minolta/Sony TCs can not be used.
- AF does not work with the initial firmware versions of early NEX cameras. You have to focus manually.
- After an update to firmware 03 (or later), AF works with SSM and SAM lenses and the LA-EA1, although slowly.
- The LA-EA2 works natively with the NEX-5N, NEX-7 and NEX-VG20, and with the older NEX cameras after another firmware update.
- The LA-EA3 is meant to adapt full-frame A-mount lenses to full-frame E-mount cameras (e. g. the NEX-VG900, ILCE-7 series). AF is not supported with non-SSM/non-SAM lenses.
- The LA-EA4 adapts full-frame A-mount lenses to full-frame E-mount cameras. It also supports AF with all A-mount lenses.
Is using a full-frame lens on APS-C cameras like using a teleconverter?
Not exactly. When using a lens with a smaller frame camera, the angle of view is narrower, which is like using a longer lens. For example, a 50 mm lens on a APS-C camera has the same angle of view as a 75 mm lens on a full-frame camera. But in contrast to a TC, the aperture is not changed. The camera only uses a smaller portion of the image circle of the lens. So a f/1.4 lens remains f/1.4 on smaller frame cameras (with regard to speed; DOF is a different story).
Will my flash work on the Minolta 7D or 5D or Sony Alpha DSLRs/SLTs?
This depends on the flash. Generally, either Minolta D flashes or Sony flashes are required for full compatibility with these cameras. In addition, the new macro flashes also work without restrictions on these cameras. In the flash table, fully compatible flashes are marked with “yes” in the “digital ready” column. For third-party flashes, a good indicator for compatibility is support for ADI flash.
For older flashes, the following restrictions apply:
- They always fire at full power or at the preset power level (when the flash is in manual mode). TTL-OTF mode is not supported by digital cameras, and pre-flash TTL and ADI modes are not supported by older flashes.
- Wireless flash does not work.
- For the three AF series flashes, a FS-1100 adapter is required to mount them on cameras with iISO shoes. No adapter is needed to mount the flashes on cameras with Multi Interface shoes. In addition to the above restrictions, the AF assist light on the flash does not work.
There is no danger of damaging a new camera with an older Minolta AF flash.
Do the Sony flashes work on Minolta cameras?
The Sony HVL-F56AM, HVL-F36AM and HVL-MT24AM flashes are only re-labeled Minolta flashes, and they work on both Konica Minolta digital cameras and Minolta film cameras. The new Sony ring lights and video lights are really only LED lights and also work on all cameras.
Things changed with the HVL-F42AM, HVL-F43AM, HVL-F58AM, etc. While they still work fine when mounted directly on film cameras, there are restrictions when using them in wireless mode. They can be triggered only by a few late film cameras and only at certain exposure times. But there are no restrictions when using these flashes with digital cameras from Konica Minolta (and Sony, of course). See the Flash Compendium for more details.
Newer Sony flashes with the Multi Interface flash connector require the ADP-AMA adapter to be able to mount them on Minolta cameras with iISO shoe.
Does the Minolta 1200AF flash work on the Minolta 7D or 5D or Sony Alpha DSLRs/SLTs?
With the FS-1100 adapter (which also comes with the 1200AF-N) you can mount the flash on these cameras. However, it will always fire at full power, and since it has no manual mode, it's also not possible to reduce flash power. So it's very inconvenient to use this flash. The best you can do is try to find the controller of the new Macro Ring Flash 1200 (MFC-1000) and attach the flash unit of the old ring flash to it. This will get you a fully compatible ring flash. The new controller also comes with the Minolta Macro Twin Flash 2400. Note that the Sony Alpha Macro Twin Flash Kit HVL-MT24AM does no longer have the ring flash socket on the controller!
How do I trigger a studio flash with the Minolta 5D or Sony α100/α2xx/α3xx/α4xx/α5xx?
There are three ways to trigger studio flashes:
- via PC sync cable
- via optical signals
- via radio signals
The 5D and Alphas have neither of these built-in. For the 5D and Alphas the PC cable socket can be added with the Minolta PCT-100 or the Sony FA-ST1AM. The PCT-100 is not mentioned in the α100 manual, but it's reported to work on the α100.
Triggering via optical signals (i.e. with a flash pulse) is difficult with these camera. They all use pre-flash TTL metering or ADI metering (which also uses a pre-flash), so the studio flash will often be already triggered by the metering flash, when the mirror is down and the shutter is closed. The only way to avoid the pre-flash is to use manual flash mode, but these cameras do not offer a manual mode for their built-in flash. You have to use an external flash unit in manual mode, which often is a bit too expensive when you just want a trigger.
There are several radio triggers for studio flashes, and they are reported to work with the 5D and the Alphas. However, they are expensive.
Which flashes work on my camera?
Basically, all Minolta AF and Sony Alpha flashes (see table) work on all Minolta AF film cameras. Only the following restrictions apply:
- To use the original AF series flashes with newer Minolta cameras, you need the FS-1100 adapter. The AF assist light on the flash will not work.
- To use newer flashes with the original AF series cameras, you need the FS-1200 adapter. The AF assist light on the flash will not work.
- The D-314i and D-316i flashes only work on the Dynax/Maxxum 3000i/α-3700i, because they are powered by the camera through an extra flash contact pin.
- Of course, new flash features, like HSS and ADI, can only be used if also supported by the camera.
- Flashes with Multi Interface connector require the ADP-AMA to mount them on cameras with iISO shoe.
For digital cameras, see “Will my flash work on the Minolta 7D or 5D or Sony Alpha DSLRs/SLTs?”.
For Metz SCA flashes, visit the Metz home page. They have an interactive adapter search feature online that allows you to find the correct SCA adapter for your flash and camera.
For Sigma flashes, visit the Sigma home page for compatibility information.
Why doesn't the green Auto LED glow on my flash?
The green Auto LED only glows when the flash is mounted on the camera, and the camera is set to green [P] mode (Maxxum/Dynax/Alpha 7), Auto mode (Sony Alpha) or P mode (all others except Maxxum/Dynax/Alpha 9 and 800si). With the 7D and 5D, however, the LED never glows. This is no reason for concern. The flash is not damaged, no functionality is lost, and the flash works as expected.
The flash manual was written before Minolta's first modern DSLR (the 7D) was released, so this little restriction is not mentioned.
Does the Sony ring flash work on Minolta cameras?
The Sony HVL-RLAM is not really a flash. It's a ring of white LEDs and a battery holder. The holder has no contacts at the “flash shoe”. It's not controlled by the camera in any way. The camera does not even know it's mounted or even switched on. There's no communication between camera and the Sony HVL-RLAM. Therefore the ring light works on any lens and camera that you can mount it on.
The same applies to the newer Sony HVL-RL1.
Can I use Minolta/Sony Alpha flashes with the NEX and ILCE cameras?
Alpha flashes can not be used on NEX cameras with the Smart Accessory Terminal interface. There is no adapter.
Alpha flashes with the iISO mount (and Multi Interface flashes with the ADP-AMA adapter) can only be used with the NEX-VG10 and NEX-VG20 camcorders and NEX-7 camera. Alpha flashes with Multi Interface mount (and iISO flashes with the ADP-MAA adapter) can be used on the NEX-6, ILCE-6000, ILCE-7, ILCE-7R, ILCE-7S (and more ILCE cameras) and the NEX-VG30 and NEX-VG900 camcorders.
Can the Sony HVL-F32X flash be used with Sony Alpha cameras
The Sony HVL-F32X is not compatible with Sony Alpha cameras. It was designed for a few Cybershot compact cameras.
When I mount an older Minolta flash on a Sony camera, can the camera be damaged?
When you mount a Minolta flash (one of those listed in the flash table) on a Sony camera, either directly or by using a shoe mount adapter, you can not damage the camera. These flashes do not expose high voltages at the flash shoe, and they are meant to be used also on Sony cameras.
Can I use regular AA batteries in the VC-7D?
No. The power consumption is too high. Even using high-capacity NiMH re-chargeables is only an emergency fallback to the NP-400 Li batteries.
Do Minolta or Sony make extension tubes?
No. Extension tubes for A-mount lenses are made by Kenko and other third-party manufacturers.
Will my other accessories work with the Minolta 7D or 5D or Sony Alpha DSLRs/SLTs?
The following accessories work with these cameras:
- Remote release cables RC-1000S and RC-1000L
- Angle finder Vn
- Magnifier Vn
- Eyepiece corrector 1000
- Adapter FS-1100
- Adapter FS-1200
- Cable EX
- Cable CD
- Close-up Diffusor CD-1000
- Lens caps, body caps, flash shoe caps
- Teleconverters with Minolta A mount
- Extension tubes with Minolta A mount
- Other lens adapters, e.g. for M42, T2, SR, reversal adapters etc. You may have to turn off the camera's lens mount check (see “I've mounted a lens with an adapter, but my camera doesn't release. What's the problem?”) and also turn off AS/SSS.
- PCT-100 PC-sync adapter
Where can I buy Minolta products and spare parts?
Konica Minolta went out of the photo business in March 2006. New Minolta and Konica Minolta photo products are no longer produced and are also available nearly nowhere. Rarely dealers are carrying a few pieces of old stock, and these occasions will become even rarer in the future. Basically the only way to buy Minolta and Konica Minolta photo products now is the second hand market.
Sony had taken over the service for Minolta and Konica Minolta photo products, but this arrangement has run out. Your local Sony home page may still point out a repair service that may also be able to provide spare parts. Other than that, the second hand market is again your best bet to get spare parts.
Can I read the year of production from the serial number of a lens or camera?
The year of production is not directly encoded in Minolta's serial numbers. Some lenses bear a year number, but this is the copyright year of the lens design, not the year of production. Furthermore, some lenses, especially the higher level ones, are produced in large batches and then may sit on a shelf for some time before being sold. Knowing the year of production of such a lens is not so useful when you actually want to know the year of sale.