hmmm thanks for your opinions don, much appreciated as always. maybe I should just put up with changing lenses for the time being and not even bother getting the 18-250. That would allow me to get the Sony 42 flash and a nice backpack. But with the 70-200mm, I see no point in keeping/using the 70-300 since beyond 200mm, it's pretty poor (soft and too much CA) IMO. It just can't seem to resolve enough detail.

My four lens solution will likely be the

1) TAMRON SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di-II LD Aspherical (IF)
2) Minolta Minolta AF 50mm F/1.7
3) TAMRON SP AF 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD Aspherical (IF) MACRO (some day)
4) TAMRON SP AF 200-500mm f/5-6.3 Di LD (IF)
(some day)

And on reserve for special occasions:
Tamron SP AF90mm F/2.8 Di 1:1 Macro
Perhaps the 18-250 (again, some day whenever I go on a good vacation).