Minolta AF 500/8 Reflex

I was asked by my co-worker/friend David if I would accompany him to the crack house Camera Exchange. He had decided to purchase a digital camera and wanted my “expertise” as he entered this new and exciting realm of photography. Not being one to turn down a chance to go look at the pretty pretty camera equipment I agreed to tag along.

I introduced him to my favorite dealer sales guy and proceeded to have a look in the used equipment case. Usually they don’t have much for the Sony/Minolta platform but on this day as David and Charlie discussed the Nikon D90 and some lenses, there was a sparkling gem of used Minolta goodness.

A Minolta AF 500/8 Reflex lens and available for a very reasonable price.

I’d read a bit about this lens and it’s a remarkable piece of glass for what it is and for the price. Whereas the average 500mm reflex lens tends to be a manual focus, the Minolta/Sony 500mm Reflex lens is the only production mirror lens designed to auto focus with an SLR camera.

Very light and very compact it’s easy to carry around. Since it shoots at a constant F/8 aperture it is not a low-light performer, but @ 500mm it will literally reach out and touch someone. The re-tooled Sony version runs twice as much as what you can pic up this older Minolta version for on the secondary market and this one was priced well below even that so it was a good bargain.

In good light this lens produces good results and gives me more reach in my birding and wildlife photography. The first few test shots are quite encouraging. All of these images are un-cropped and only resized to be more reasonable for web viewing. Click any image to see a larger version.

It is not super super sharp, but the color and contrast is good. I think it will serve me well.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Migratory Ruby-crowned Kinglet. I originally thought they were Orange-crowned Warblers, but further research and a reader tip indicates I may have mis-identified them.

You can compare here:
Orange-crowned Warbler
Ruby-crowned Kinglet

The wing-bars seem to be the tell….

They visit our yard each winter and are extremely elusive in terms of getting a photo. Today there were two of them in the front yard and they seemed oblivious to my presence. So oblivious, one nearly landed on my arm while I was shooting the pictures. Even so, they dart around so quickly and erratically they are not easy to photograph.

Life In The Aftermath

As Hurricane IKE approached, we left one hummingbird feeder out until sunset as two of the little guys kept feeding till the bitter end. We were pretty sure they were enjoying their last meal with no knowledge of what was about to hit them.

Oddly enough, we lost power around 8:00 pm Friday night. Wind was not blowing, no rain, nothing. Just a distant “poomph” as the transformer that fails with some regularity failed for apparently no reason. The lights in the houses across the street continued to glow warmly. Curse them.

As the sun was going down Cynthia and I were sitting outside marvelling at the wind as it started to build. The trees were swaying and rustling in the wind. I was pretty sure this was going to be a bad night. We had our supplies and Dooley and Mr. Zippers had been moved into the interior hallway so as to protect them should a window break.

At one point (long before the storm) the trees in front of our house got hit by a strong gust of wind and bowed to 45 degree angle. At that point we moved inside to ride it out.

As you might imagine, things continued to deteriorate. The wind picked up and was pretty much a constant howling as it whipped around the corners of the house and tried to find its way inside through any seam or crack. This went on for hours and hours.

With no power we only had out battery operated radio to keep us informed. It’s one of those radios that receives TV band so we could tune into the network news stations and get an idea of what was going on. That thing was our lifeline and the best hurricane supply in our arsenal.

About the time the storm was hitting us full on I fell asleep, just exhausted. Cynthia was not so fortunate. I felt bad abandoning her to my own slumber, but knew I would need my strength the next day during the cleanup.

When the sun came up, the wind was still gusting pretty strong but definitely dying down. Cynthia looked out the back window and exclaimed “there’s a birdy out there!” I braved the outside to go into the garage and get the feeders and re-hang them. As I was looking around I noticed a large branch from our flowering Pear tree had broken off and landed in the yard. the house was fine as was the garage. The fence was down in the back and along the driveway.

As I was hanging the seed feeders and the hummingbird feeders a wren zipped in an landed on the door to the garage to watch me.

And literally within minutes there were dozens of sparrows up on the roof of the garage

After I went inside the house the sparrows moved in

And most surprisingly, TWO hummingbirds!

Wet and bedraggled, you know they had a rough night. I can’t even imagine how they survived, but they did.

After awhile, Ricky and Lucy put in an appearance

Watching them has been a HUGE moral boost. With no TV or Internet the bird show has enjoyed some high ratings at our house.

It’s Tuesday and we’re still without power. The neighbors across the street got theirs back on last night so we’re hopeful. The neighborhood HEB opened and we were able to get some ice and some more supplies. We’re holding on. The cold front has been a GODSEND! Lows in the upper 50’s last night with low humidity. It’s bearable.

Obviously we’re anxious to put this behind us and grateful it was not a whole lot worse for us.

At work now. Internet access and air conditioning is good for the soul.

I want a hamburger.