After a long break from film photography, digital helped me get the show on the road again. I acquired the superb Minolta DiMAGE 7i late in 2002 and moved on the the KM5D in 2006. The A200 was acquired in 2008. During this time Minolta merged with Konica and Sony subsequently acquired Konica Minolta so don’t be confused by the mix of Sony, Minolta/Konica Minolta, it all plays together nicely.
I have very deliberately decided to stay with the APS-C format rather than full frame. This permits the use of high quality APS-C specific lenses which offer superb image quality at a fraction of the size, weight and cost of their full frame relatives.
Much of this equipment is now old technology, and yet it continues to produce great images. This is what I am currently using routinely:
|The Minolta DiMAGE 7i was a significant camera in its day and was acquired in 2002. 5 megapixel sensor, GT lens, compact, good handling and superb image quality made it a leading edge instrument at the time, hampered by slow performance and a prodigious appetite for batteries. To use it effectively required patience. The results were worth it.
DiMAGE 7i review.
|The Konica Minolta 5D was the second DSLR body released by the then merged Konica and Minolta. It was quite rightly famous for superb image quality and handling as well as featuring sensor stabilisation, “Anti Shake”, quite unique at the time. This allowed it to be used hand held in situations where previously a blurred shot would have resulted. Now retired it served well for many years.
|Following the A100, Sony released the A200 as their new entry level DSLR. It is in my view the 5D replacement, with improved processing speed and a bigger 10 megapixel sensor. While it lacks some of the features of the 5D, image quality is very good. It’s semi-retired and is used if a single compact body is required.
|From 2007, Sony’s A700 was the flagship of the Alpha range until the release of the A900. It is a serious device with the hallmarks of Minolta’s enthusiast/semi-pro range of cameras and Sony innovation. Although the newer SLT cams have more pixels, are faster and cleverer, the A700 remains a superb instrument. Two of these are currently in service mainly with the 16-105 and 70-300G. Its a great budget setup and delivers excellent results.
|Sony’s AS20 Action Cam, a no frills video camera is normally mounted on the front of the bike. Easy to use and decent results for this class of camera.
|Sony’s AS50 Action Cam has excellent image quality and replaces the AS20.
|The Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM is the only one of its kind. This is the first ultra wide zoom lens with a minimum focal length of 8mm, designed specifically for APS-C size image sensors. It has an equivalent angle of view of a 12-24mm lens when used on digital camera with an APS-C size image sensor.
This lens comes into its own in confined spaces. It was indispensable in Italy, enabling views and perspectives of rural villages and medieval towns otherwise not possible.
|Covering wide-angle to portrait-length perspectives, this standard 16-50mm zoom is designed for APS-C format A-mount cameras, where it will provide a versatile 24-75mm equivalent focal length range.
A constant f/2.8 maximum aperture offers consistent performance throughout the zoom range and also lends greater control over focus position for shallow depth of field.
Super handy for all sorts of things and renders nice images.
|Sony 16-105, this amazingly compact premium zoom lens provides superior all-around performance. Its 35mm-equivalent range of 24mm wide-angle to 157.5mm telephoto is perfect for capturing faraway subjects, sports events, dramatic landscapes and intimate close-ups.
This is the lens that has been doing the bulk of the work for a lot of years now owing to its range and performance.
|Minolta AF 80-200mm F2.8 HS APO G, another legendary Minolta lens from the professional G range. These are prized lenses capable of amazing images and works well with the A700.
It's heavy as you might expect, the the images it produces are breathtaking. Its unlikely to be a lens grabbed for a casual walk around.
|The Sony G-Series 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 Telephoto Zoom Lens is a brilliant performer for a wide range of medium-distance and long shots, with SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) design for fast, silent auto-focus, ED glass to virtually eliminate chromatic aberration, focus hold button and more. Minimum focusing distance of about 4 feet (1.2m) lets you move in close to your subject. (35mm equivalent: 105-450mm).
It's light and compact enough that you can carry all day which is something that often defeats lenses of this range and quality.
|Minolta 100 D macro, this versatile macro-focus lens covers a wide range of photographic applications, from close-up nature subjects to midrange telephoto shots -- making it ideal to carry on location or in the field. Mounted on an APS-C camera, it provides a 150mm focal length (35mm equivalent) -- and its superb sharpness and clarity give you professional results in every shooting situation.
One of Minolta's legendary lenses, it is a highly technical thing to use properly, which I suppose is true of any macro lens.
Other gear includes a collection of manfrotto camera supports, a pair of Sony 42AM flashes, a Delta ringflash for macro photography and various filters, some vintage Minolta AF lenses. A special mention to the BlackRapid DR-1 which makes carrying and using 2 cameras a breeze, even if it looks a bit geeky (which it is). Aside from the strap, nothing too fancy or expensive at all.