Minolta lenses were originally designed to fit only Minolta cameras. This was intended to keep consumers buying only Minolta products. However, when Minolta stopped dealing in cameras and camera gear in 2006 they sold part of the company to Sony. Now, some Minolta lenses will work with newer (post-2006) Sony cameras.
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Minolta was founded in 1928. In 2003, it merged with Konica Minolta--a company that still exists today. And in 2006, Minolta sold part of the company to Sony. Sony started manufacturing Minolta's old lenses under the Sony brand. Now, some photographers purchase old Minolta lenses because of their low cost and compatibility with some newer camera systems.
Minolta lenses have gone through many changes since the company first starting manufacturing them. There were lenses that had manual preset apertures, and autofocus didn't come along for years. The type of lens you have will determine what kind of camera it will function best with. Generally speaking, an older Minolta lens will work best with an older Minolta camera that was designed around the same time frame. Many older lenses will work with newer Minolta cameras, but some features may be limited. It is best to check a compatibility chart to verify the camera body your lens will work with best.
When Sony took over what remained of Minolta they started producing new DSLR (digital single-lens-reflex) cameras. The lenses that worked with these cameras were based on the old Minolta lenses, so many Minolta lenses still work on the newer Sony cameras. However, some features won't work as well as they would with the original camera body. For example, the AF (autofocus) 85-mm 1.4 G (D) lens is compatible with all newer Sony bodies but the flash metering system only works with some flash units and the contrast autofocus function doesn't work. Check compatibility charts before you buy either a Minolta lens or a camera body to determine whether the lenses will work for your needs.
Adaptors are available that allow a Minolta lens to be used on another camera's body. Expect the camera lenses to not work at their best. Adaptors usually let in less light, therefore slowing down the lens. They also limit the function of some lenses and you may not be able to use some features like autofocus.
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