First shots with the old Minolta 100mm F3.5 macro plus Olympus E-M1

Tuesday was a good day to play hooky from work and spend the morning at our local botanic garden with my "new" old Minolta 100mm macro. I have had it a few weeks, but this was the first time we'd gone outside to play.

I was hoping for more flowers at the garden, but it is late in the season.  Many of the flowers looked a bit well-worn.  On the other hand, we've had little rain this summer so expectations should be kept realistic.

The Minolta is a heavy lens weighing in at 22 ounces. That's a whopping 25.5 ounces with adapter!  But I lugged it around on the E-M1 for 2 1/2 hours and didn't feel that it weighed too much.  In fact, I had the Olympus 36R flash in the hot shoe the entire time too; although I used the flash perhaps only 1/3 of the time.

I used a small "kiss" of flash with these four:

All my shots were hand held at 1/250 sec or more.  This lens has an effective focal length of 200mm.  All the formulas suggest that for this focal length a shutter speed of 1/250sec should be fast enough to remove camera shake.

I left in-body-image-stabilization on.  Some might argue that I should have turned it off because it was unnecessary at that shutter speed.

I switched back and forth between F4 and F8.  Both F stops seemed sharp. I believe the lens is sharper on the E-M1 than my two other manual lenses of similar focal length, the Nikkor 105mm AI-S F2.8 and the Tamron 90mm F2.8. I was pleased also to see no CA, a problem that I find on both the Nikkor and Tamron.

Focusing was a challenge, even with the focus aids in the E-M1.  These focus aids work almost the opposite of those on the Sony a6000, so I am looking forward to trying my hand at that combination in a few days.

Here were my two focusing challenges:

1) Focus peaking.

a) I find that the Olympus focus peaking is not selective enough to be accurate for macro work.  For example, if shooting down at a 45 degree angle onto the horizontal surface of a flower, I might see a speckled band of white (the focus peaking is set for white) 1/4" wide across the flower, supposedly highlighting that which is in focus.  Yet the actual depth of field, where sharpness is adequate, might only be expected to be 1/16" or 1/8". One would surmise that the middle of the 1/4" band would be the sweet spot; however, I often found that the sharpest "plane" of focus was slightly behind where I intended it be.  Perhaps with more experience and practice I will make some mental adjustments and get the focus on target more frequently.

b) As soon as you half press the shutter the peaking disappears.  Perhaps not a problem with a landscape, but I find with macro work that there is too much operator time-lag between focusing and full release of the shutter.

2) Magnification

The magnification works great.  I like the fact that the magnification is maintained even when the shutter button is half pressed or fully pressed. The bad news is that while in magnification mode, you loose sight of your frame.


Next up: I'll try the same lens on the Sony a6000.

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