I'm just starting out with DLSR photography - I recently purchased a Sony A230 with the kit lens (18mm - 55mm). I know that the lens mount is compatible with Minolta lenses. These lenses were originally designed for film SLR cameras, and I'm wondering what impact that will have when I go to use them with my camera. Some websites advertise lenses for a Minolta mount that have the ominous warning NOT FOR DIGITAL SLRs.

What am I getting myself into when I buy older film SLR lenses? I have heard that the effective length of the lens changes due to the different sizes of the image sensors, but how can I calculate this? Are any other lens specifications, like aperature size, that are changed? Will autofocus still work? Will my camera be able to read the lens? What would happen if I bought the lens that is linked above - would it really not work with my camera or give horrible results?

  • \$\begingroup\$ As noted, this is PROBABLY mostly about Minolta MF lenses not being directly compatible with the A Mount AF system. "One would hope" ALL A-mount compatible lenses would work with any film or digital A Mount camera. In a very few cases, the sweep of the camera mirror may interfere with the lens. This is exceedingly unusual. As I recall (perhaps incorrectly) some specialist teleconverters that will not work in some cases. Having written this it hardly sounds credible, but that's what the brain offers at present :-). || What's wrong with 'Tony' - head injury? email address on my profile \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 3:29

3 Answers 3


Minolta, like Canon, changed their mount when they moved to AF in the 1980s. Only Minolta AF lenses can be used on Sony's Alpha mount.

The field of view will be cropped due to the fact that the sensor in your camera is smaller than the imaging size of film. So a 50mm lens will have the field of view of a 75mm lens, as the crop factor is 1.5.

Here's a good answer about crop factor in DSLRs

Aperture is unchanged. AF should work fine!

  • \$\begingroup\$ I've successfully used some late-90s Minolta SLR lenses with an Alpha 100, with no problems whatsoever. They are exactly the same as the newer lenses. I use a Minolta flash, too. \$\endgroup\$
    – TREE
    Commented Feb 6, 2011 at 0:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Minolta xi lenses will lose their autozoom functionality (a neat trick where you could link zoom to autofocus and maintain subject size automatically -- it was great for runway fashion). Third-party lenses, though, are a coin toss; if the maker reverse-engineered the Minolta AF/AE interface right, they'll work, but there's no guarantee. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2719
    Commented Feb 6, 2011 at 6:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your response. Aperture not changing took a bit of thinking, but I got it now. \$\endgroup\$
    – W5VO
    Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 5:19

One thing is crop factor. This is not really a problem. One just gets more telephoto and less wide-angle.

The real problem is flare from the sensor. Lenses made for digital SLRs have a coating that reduces flare; the older film lenses do not have this - it was not needed when using film.

But the lens can/will work and most likely take good images.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So does this lack of coating to prevent sensor flares a "deal-breaker" on older lenses, or is it something I'll only notice under unusual circumstances? \$\endgroup\$
    – W5VO
    Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 5:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @W5VO - "older" in this context means stuff from the '60s. Sophisticated multicoating has been a standard feature of lenses claiming anything like quality for a very long time. And flare was every bit as big a problem with film as it is with digital. All Sony and Minolta AF lenses are multicoated, as are all of the Sigma and Tamron lenses for the Sony/Minolta AF mount. Really cheap off-brand lenses may not be, not because they are old, but because they're cheap. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2719
    Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 17:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can't see whether or not all lens elements are coated, but you can tell whether the front and back elements are coated on the outside at least. Look for a sort of rainbow in light reflected from the elements -- if you don't see a sort of rainbow sheen on the lens (front and back) of a used major-brand lens, it's because somebody "cleaned" off the coating. If you don't see it on an off-brand lens, new or used, it's probably because it isn't multicoated (or coated at all). \$\endgroup\$
    – user2719
    Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 17:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ A lens that isn't coated at all is an antique, and will need careful handling on both film and digital regarding flare. What indeed could matter here is how the back element is coated.... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 10:38

Its already been stated above, but the first main difference is that the old minolta lenses are "full frame", i.e. they were designed to image to the 35mm film frame, and your camera is APS-C which is about 1/1.5 smaller sensor than the original film frame.

Since those lenses image to 35mm, your camera will crop the image that those lenses can produce. One google search gave (23.7mm x 15.6mm) as the sensor size on your camera, which is about a 1.52 crop factor. So, your APS-C camera will appear to have more "reach", than the same lens mounted on a full frame camera or an old film camera.

This site: http://www.dyxum.com/lenses/index.asp has some good info about A mount Minolta lens compatibility.

The other issue you need to look into is whether your camera has a built in focus motor. The 1980's era Minolta lenses most likely used a lead screw drive coupled to a motor in the body of the camera to drive the autofocus on the lens.

After a quick search I was not able to determine if your Sony A230 has a focus motor in the body. If it does not, then these old Minolta lenses will not autofocus on your camera, you will have to manually focus them.

See this wiki for more info on autofocus compatibility: http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Minolta_AF_mount

and this one for general information about minolta lead screw drive lenses from the 1980's: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenses_for_SLR_and_DSLR_cameras

  • \$\begingroup\$ Even some much newer A-mount cameras can deal with screw drive lenses (eg A550, A65). There is even the LA-EA4 adapter that can drive them on E-mount cameras (with the exception of xi style lenses). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 2:28

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