Using older lenses on a digital SLR, don’t get ripped off when buying HDMI cables

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich
Week 42, 2007

Q: I have a Minolta Maxxum 7000i 35mm camera with a Tokina AF 35-200mm lens. Since buying a digital camera several years ago, I have not used this film camera. I was thinking of selling it on eBay and getting a digital SLR, but a  friend said that this lens could be used on some new digital SLR’s. Is this true, and if so what choices to I have?
-Stan Rosen
Minnetonka, Minnesota

A: Sony bought out Konica Minolta’s photographic businesses and is manufacturing digital SLRs using Minolta Maxxum lens mounts, under the Sony Alpha name. Konica Minolta 5D or 7D SLRs also use the Maxxum mount, though these will only be found used or perhaps as leftover stock in some remote places.

The Sony Alphas are good cameras and worthy of purchase, but at this point I would recommend you evaluate all of your options as a single lens you currently own is not a compelling reason to select a whole camera system.  On almost  most digital SLRs (and all of the consumer-grade ones) the sensor is smaller than 35mm film, which extends the effective focal length. Your 35-200mm, an all-purpose lens that goes from wide angle to telephoto, would be multiplied by 1.5 so  it behaves like a  53-300, which has no wide-angle capability. The electronics in the lens are frequently incompatible with newer cameras,  as well.   If you do go with a Sony  be sure to get a kit lens with your new camera.

Q: I read your column  and see you use Dish Network. We do too and recently upgraded to the expanded HD package and got a new dish and receivers. The cables Dish provided are one long HDMI to DVI cable connected to a short DVI to HDMI cable to give me an HDMI connection on each end. The cable seems to be heavy duty and the picture and sound are fine. Would there be a noticeable improvement if I switched to single HDMI to HDMI cables? If yes, do the more expensive ones really do a better job? The ones I see in big-box stores are very expensive- $150 for a four foot length.

-Dave O’Leary
Beaver, Pa.
A: There will be no improvement switching cables. HDMI is digital and you either get it perfectly, or you don’t.   It is like a USB printer cable in that sense. One would not expect  to get a sharper page of printed text by using  a fancier wire between a computer and a printer!   If you are having issued with the picture, then it may be worth looking into whether the cables are a problem. This is more likely happen to with longer cable runs. Since everything is fine with your system, there is nothing to be gained from making a change.

It’s a shame so many people are confused on this issue, but it is understandable given the misinformation and hard selling that occurs with these products. The reason you get such a strong pitch in the big-box stores, and why you have so few options (some stores only stock the expensive cables) is because it is all so incredibly profitable for them to do so. Extremely expensive cables and speaker wire are a rip-off and scam just slightly less outrageous than the Nigerian banker scam. Despite the claims by the manufacturers, it  has been proven time and time again that ordinary wire  works just as well as expensive wire and people can’t tell the difference in controlled blind tests.

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