Matching old lens to digital camera.
August 31, 2006 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Will a Vivitar 100-400 f4.5-6.7 autofocus zoom lens (originally for a Minolta 505si) fit on any digital cameras?

The camera was lost, and the Vivitar lens is worth about $80 on eBay. So is it worth buying a digital camera to match the lens, or better to sell the lens and start over? Which digital cameras adapt best to telephoto photography and/or older lenses?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium to Media & Arts (8 answers total)

Sell the lens, buy into a nikon or canon system. Choose carefully.
posted by mmdei at 3:21 PM on August 31, 2006

Depending on the age it might fit the new Sony Alpha DSLR. Sony bought the rights to alot of Minolta's technology, and the Sony Alpha DSLR mounts newer Minolta lenses.

What is your budget? You would probably be better off with a higher quality lens.
posted by SirStan at 3:28 PM on August 31, 2006

as mmdei says. $80 is penut shells when it comes to lenses. I have Canon, it's great... Nikon is also great. The new Pentax is good, but may not have the lens range the two big companies have.
posted by edgeways at 3:54 PM on August 31, 2006

For a serious photographer a lens collection will be much more expensive and outlast the camera bodies many times over. When you're thinking Canon or Nikon (the usual choice) you need to choose brands based on the lens system.

If you're into telephoto photography, Canon is hard to beat. As an example they just came out with a new image-stabilised version of the 70-200 F4L (which I own) and I'm already drooling.

Keep in mind that, unless you're looking at the Canon 5D or the astronomically-priced Canon 1Ds II, the Canon DSLR bodies have cropped sensors which esentially multiply the focal length of the lens by 1.6x. (Nikon's crop, btw, is 1.5x). So, if you dropped the $1100 or so on Canon's image-stabilised 100-400 3.5-5.6/L to match your Vivitar, you'd actually be getting a lens with an equivalent focal length of 160-640mm.

To compound matters, Canon makes an excellent 1.4x teleconverter (which I also have) which pretty near maintains optical quality but which drops the max. aperture of the lens 1 stop. So, on my Canon 10D my 70-200 is really a 112-320/4, or with the teleconverter it's a ~157-448/5.6.

Confused yet?
posted by jimmythefish at 5:18 PM on August 31, 2006

Yes it will likely fit and work on the Minolta and now Sony DSLRs, but this lens is not worth making a camera buying decision over. Canon and perhaps Nikon make the best DSLRs now.
posted by caddis at 5:19 PM on August 31, 2006

It's a Minolta-AF lens and it will fit on the following cameras: Minolta 7D, Minolta 5D and Sony Alpha-100. All of those cameras use an APS-C sensor (24x16mm, cropfactor 1.5) so the effective field of view will be as if you had a 150-600mm lens on a 35mm (36x24mm) camera.

It's totally a budget-crap lens though and worth about 10% of the price of a DSLR to fit it. Should you invest in such a DSLR (Alpha 100), I would recommend you spend $3-800 each on a couple of decent lenses for it otherwise you might as well just get a prosumer style fixed-lens ultra-zoom thing.

Ignore the Canon & Nikon zealots; the A100 is an awesome entry-level DSLR, particularly when you consider the price. But I wouldn't bother keeping that lens or buying an A100 just because you've got that lens.
posted by polyglot at 6:04 PM on August 31, 2006

Not all Minolta AF lenses will work on a Minolta/Sony DSLR. It's hard to tell unless you actually try it. It uses the right mount and will fit on the SLR, but you may find that the camera won't recognise it.
I'm a professional photographer, and use Minolta, so ignore everyone who says you HAVE to use Canon or Nikon. It's a very personal choice.
posted by BobsterLobster at 2:32 AM on September 1, 2006

Excellent, informative answers, all. Thank you.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:59 AM on September 1, 2006

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