Monthly Archives: January 2011

Vintage Minolta MD/MC mount lenses on Canon EOS EF mount?

I made a huge discovery this Christmas! The video tripod post will have to wait a bit, as I just had to get this off my chest. When I was visiting my folks, I remembered that my dad used to be into SLR photography back in the film days. He had an old Minolta camera, probably an SRT101 or a similar model, I can’t remember. My granddad also had the same camera and when he passed away 15 years ago, dad inherited all his camera gear. All that gear has just been sitting in my parents’ attic, gathering dust and while the camera body was a goner, the lenses looked just fine! There was 10 manual focus Minolta MD

and MC mount lenses just waiting for me to play with them…woohoo!! There’s lots of talk over on cinema5D about how awesome vintage lenses are, because they are cheap and sharp and designed to be focussed manually, unlike modern AF lenses. There were a fast nifty fifty (the Minolta MC Rokkor-PF 55/1.7), a tele prime (The Tokina 200/3.5) two tele zooms (The Hanimex 55-220/3.5-4.5 and the Beroflex 80-210), a wide-angle prime (The Admiral G.M.C. 28/2.5), a wide-angle zoom (The Samyang 18-28/4-4.5) and a macro zoom (The Sigma 35-70/2.8-4). All I needed was a cheap adapter ring off eBay and I’d be ready to go! Or so I thought…

After my initial giddiness, I had a closer look and noticed that some of the lenses were beyond hope…they’d been completely scratched into oblivion. I still had 7 lenses left though, that appeared free of any major scratches or other blemishes, which, for the price of $0 was still an awesome find! Upon my arrival back in Melbourne, I started doing some research into MD mount lenses and how they work with Canon’s EF mount. The result was quite sobering, as the general consensus among vintage lens enthusiasts in this regard was ‘not very well’.

The lenses usually favoured by said enthusiasts come with M42 mount, which is easily adapted with a $10 adapter ring. It turns out, however, that the Minolta mount is a slightly different story. I still don’t understand why they don’t work as well, but it’s something to do with theย  distance between the lens elements and the focal plane. Essentially, MC/MD mount lenses are too far away from the focal plane and therefore won’t focus to infinity, even with an adapter ring. This means that unless all you shoot is macro, you’re in for a bit of trouble!

Luckily, there is an alternative in the form of an optical adapter. Optical because they contain an optical element (like a lens) to make up for the difference in length…I think. Feel free to correct me here, as I’m still new to this whole thing. The reason why this type of adapter is not ideal is because it (supposedly) deteriorates the image quality, since you are effectively adding more lens elements of inferior quality to the mix. Kind of like wearing glasses under your sunglasses?

I ordered both types of adapters from eBay and they’re in transit. As soon as I’ll get them, I’ll do some test shots and will post them here.


HDSLR tripods on a budget – carbon fibre stills tripods

Happy New Year!

May it be a productive one ๐Ÿ™‚

I wish I could claim that I’ve been very productive but hey, it was the holidays and holidays are for resting. I took hundreds of photos and in fact have generally been focussing more on stills than video in the last month or so. As a result, this blog has been fairly quiet. However, watch my Flickr side bar to your right, as I’ll be uploading some Christmas pics. The 60D is a terrific camera and I’m slowly learning how to take better photos with it. It’s quite amazing what these cameras are capable of…unthinkable only a few years ago really!

a fancy video tripod for DSLRs


Anyways, the topic of this post is tripods. Anyone who has attempted to shoot hand-held video on a DSLR has probably been shocked at the sheer amount of camera shake that sneaks into our otherwise gorgeous footage. Tripods are probably the most underestimated piece of gear from a beginner’s point of view. They’re stationary, cumbersome and unexciting, plus there are millions of them! They start at $20 bucks or so and go up to the thousands really quite quickly.ย  Very quickly! What’s the deal?

Gah! More hours of research!

Yep, hours. I started with the idea that I could find a hybrid tripod, one that I could use for both photography and video, as that’s what my DSLR can do. It also had to be light enough for me to take on my big Europe trip this year, strong and cheap. Then I woke up.

As far as I can tell, I’m dreaming. At least partly, as my dream tripod doesn’t exist. I was thinking that I could buy a photography tripod like a Manfrotto 055XPRO or the very cool Benro Travel Angel and whack a video head on top, done! Unfortunately, that won’t work as well as I’d hoped due to a problem people on call helicoptering: when you pan with your fluid head in one direction you’re OK, but try the other side and you’re unscrewing your head (or something along those lines, I still don’t fully understand what helicoptering is or does, but apparently it’s a spanner in the works. Engineering solutions apparently exist but my engineering skills don’t so I was back to the drawing board.

I had to wake up to the reality that I will eventually have to buy two tripods, one for my photos and one for video. The problem is that I want both, now, and that I only have about $250 to spend. While it’s possible to go ultra-cheap, I think I’d ultimately be disappointed with flimsy gear that breaks if you look at it the wrong way.

Also, in Australia, we pay a heavy premium on pretty much everything, especially heavy bulky things like tripods. This leaves eBay and similar online offerings that peddle goods straight from China or go retail and pay through the nose.

I’ll split this post into two parts, nice light strong and cheap stills tripods and cheap-as-chips, heavy-duty video offerings.

Stills tripods

Pretty early on, I decided that I wanted a carbon fibre tripod. They’re light and strong and particularly good at absorbing vibration while maintaining rigidity. The first brand that I found was a Chinese knock-off of the much more pricey Gitzo brand. The legend goes that Gitzo went to China to look for a place to manufacture tripods and soon after, Benro started pumping out cheap clones ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, the model range that I’m most interested in is called Travel Angel. The cool thing about them is that you can detach one of the legs and turn it into a monopod! Also, the reports/reviews around the web on Benro stuff has been very positive, with only a few negative points (not as strong as the much more expensive Gitzo, both the carbon fibre tubes and the magnesium plate that legs are attached to) Models to look out for in particular are the C-2681TB and the almost-identical C-2691TB.

The Benro C-2691-8

Detachable monopod - ingenious!

The difference between the two models is that the 81 has four leg sections whereas the 91 has 5. The advantage of 4 sections is rigidity (the fewer sections, the stronger the tripod) but it’s longer when folded up and doesn’t extend as far the 5-sectioned 91 model. I’m sure both would be awesome either way. I’m leaning towards the cheaper, longer and more compact 2691 personally and it will probably the be the next thing on my gear list. Not bad at all at ~$350 delivered, compare with Gitzos that cost at least 2x as much!

This model comes with the B-1 ballhead which is rated for 12kg! Even if it only holds 4kg, it’s a strong enough for me…alas, ball heads are less than suitable for video and therefore this will have to be restricted to stills work or non-moving videos.

Since the Benros have come out, there have also been a few copies of the copies flooding the market. In particular, I’m referring to Triopo and Fotopro. has some of both on offer. People tend to praise them less and apparently parts just randomly fall off if you’re not careful! $100 cheaper but personally, I’d rather go with Benro.

Alright, tomorrow or so I’ll tackle video tripods. I know a lot less about them but I’ll give it a shot anyways.