Minolta has today announced an update to its top-of-the-line DiMAGE 7 digital camera. Changes include much faster auto-focusing, improved electronic and LCD viewfinders with added display functions like grid overlays and real-time record-mode histogram, faster 1/4000 second shutter speed, 7 frames-per-second burst mode, new effects and movie modes, a microphone for movie audio, a new grip design and more... Minolta have provided us with an informative 'backgrounder' document outlining all of the changes, which we've reproduced below:
New Minolta Single Lens Reflex (SLR)-type Digital Camera:
The DiMAGE 7i
Targeted for release in late spring 2002, the new Minolta DiMAGE 7i digital camera is designed to meet the needs of photographers wishing to have an SLR-type digital camera that performs under varying photographic conditions and features convenient functions that produce high quality photographic images.
How has Minolta improved their award-winning 5-megapixel camera?
- Advanced technology gives the camera professional versatility. The DiMAGE 7i features a 3-point wide AF system for fast, accurate focusing, a Flex Focus Point for precise control over the focusing area and a Direct Manual Focus (DMF) to make instant adjustments to the autofocus.
- The DiMAGE 7i has expanded options for composition. The viewfinder and monitor displays have been expanded not only to show the status of the camera, but also the options of including a grid for aligning the camera to the horizon or vertical subject elements and a scale to judge image size in close-up photography. In addition, a real-time histogram is available to evaluate the effects of exposure and contrast on the image before it is captured.
- The new DiMAGE 7i is fast. In the program and the aperture-priority exposure modes, the shutter speed tops out at 1/4000s. The new UHS (Ultra High Speed) continuous-advance drive mode can capture approximately 7 frames per second to compete with most professional film cameras. The AF system is almost twice as fast as its predecessor, the DiMAGE 7, and the capturing interval has been reduced to make a more responsive camera.
- With new, extensive system accessories, the DiMAGE 7i is a serious photographic tool. The camera can be coupled with powerful shoe-mounted and off-camera flash units from portable camera strobes to large studio lighting systems. The new wireless/remote function allows slave control over the Minolta 5600HS(D) and the 3600HS(D) program flashed. Remote cables and standard 49mm filters can also be used.
- The DiMAGE 7i makes composition easier. The LCD monitor and Digital Hyper Viewfinder have been improved for easier viewing and more accurate color rendition. These are housed in a durable magnesium-alloy body with a rich, new finish and comfortable new grip.
- Increased control over the image allows for more special effects, The Digital Effects Control (DEC) and the Digital Enhanced Bracketing gives the photographer control over saturation, contrast and exposure, as well as new control over color. A new filter effect has been added to the DEC so that color images can be made warmer or cooler; and black and white images can be toned. This offers unparalleled creative freedom when combined with the two new color modes: Vivid Color and Solarization.
- New movie modes allow the DiMAGE 7i to capture a moment with ease. The DiMAGE 7i can record high-quality 16-bit audio with still and moving images. Along with standard QVGA digital movies, three new movie functions have been added. Night movies allow monochrome images to be recorded in low light. Time -lapse movies capture the imperceptible motions of the world. The UHS continuous advance movies show unfolding events.
High-Precision Electro-Optical System
The new Minolta DiMAGE 7i is built around a high-precision electro-optical system designed to maximize image quality. The system contains a 5.24 megapixel, 2/3-type interline primary color CCD with 4.95 million effective pixels for fine high-resolution images. The pixel resolution of the CCD will produce 13" x 17" 150dpi prints on an inkjet printer.
Minolta's image-processing technology, CxProcess, guarantees the image from the CCD will faithfully reproduce the photographic scene. CxProcess controls image sharpness, color, and contrast while minimizing noise to produce vivid, natural pictures.
CxProcess controls sharpness by balancing resolution. This allows fine detail to be preserved while adding depth to the image. Color is critically controlled to prevent objects from appearing over-saturated in the image while remaining vibrant; the warmth of the human complexion or the rich subtleties of green foliage will be rendered as clearly as they were perceived. Contrast is regulated to bring out a luminous quality in the mid-tones and highlights, and to strengthen and enrich the shadows.
12-bit A/D conversion
The secret to photography is in the details. Smooth gradations and fine details bring a photograph to life. The 12-bit A/D conversion in the Minolta DiMAGE 7i preserves all the subtleties of the original scene. With billions of colors and 4,096 levels in each color channel, images possess almost life-like color and detail.
Minolta GT LENS
A high-resolution CCD is only as good as the lens in front of it. The Minolta GT LENS featured in the DiMAGE 7i is an optical jewel cut in glass. The fast f2.8 - f3.5 7x optical zoom is an advanced apochromatic (APO) lens. With a resolution to produce a fine image on a seven-million pixel CCD, this lens employs AD glass and aspheric elements to ensure sharp, contrasting images with no chromatic aberration at any focal length. In addition, the Minolta DiMAGE 7i's optical zoom lens accepts standard 49mm filters.
7x Zoom For Flexibility
With a focal range of 7.2mm to 50.8mm, the DiMAGE 7i's fast 7x zoom lens is equivalent to a 28mm to 200mm 35mm zoom lens. Ranging from wide angles for expansive landscapes and confined interiors to telephoto for intimate portraits, the lens on the Minolta DiMAGE 7i encompasses the most used focal lengths in photography today. A straightforward manual zooming ring makes framing simple. The fast f2.8 - f3.5 aperture easily permits natural light shooting without having to use a flash, which can destroy the expressive ambient light.
The DiMAGE 7i zoom has a new wide/telephoto macro system. This system allows the lens to be set at the wide-angle or telephoto position to take advantage of different focal lengths. At the wide-angle position, the larger field of view and depth of field create a stronger perspective and a sense of space. The telephoto position isolates the subject and minimizes distortion with a narrow field of view and shallow depth of field.
Advanced Autofocus System
The speed and accuracy of the DiMAGE 7i's autofocus (AF) system has been improved to create a more responsive camera. The DiMAGE 7i's wide AF makes accurate focusing simple. Within the focus frames are three sensitive AF sensors including a central crosshair sensor, providing accurate focusing regardless of subject contrast orientation. The camera automatically locates the subject within the wide frames and confirms the point of focus by briefly displaying the active AF sensor. The AF system works in low-light conditions, the fading light of twilight or dimly lit interiors, without the need of a special AF illuminator. The monitor and viewfinder image is automatically amplified so the subject is always visible.
The DiMAGE 7i is the first Minolta digital camera to incorporate Direct Manual Focus (DMF). DMF is found in professional-level film cameras like the award-winning Minolta Maxxum 7. It allows the focus to be fine tuned manually, after the AF system has focused and locked on the subject.
The improved performance Flex Focus Point adds unlimited versatility to the AF system. When the camera is fixed to a tripod or when the position of the focal plane is critical, as with close-up photography, it can be very difficult to use most autofocus systems because the camera must be moved to focus and then repositioned to compose the image. Flex Focus Point is a single, crosshair sensor that can be placed anywhere within the field of view. With the camera on a tripod, simply use the four-way controller to position the Flex Focus Point on the subject. The AF system will use that point for each exposure.
Functions to Help Composition and Luminance
The Minolta DiMAGE 7i has two additional displays for critical composition: grid and scale. Usually found in large-format view cameras, the grid makes aligning the camera with vertical or horizontal elements within the image simple. The grid confirms that the horizon or buildings are straight. The scale can be used in close-up photography to judge the relative proportions of the subject.
Unique to digital imaging, the DiMAGE 7i's real-time histogram shows the luminance distribution of the image before it is captured. Displayed with the live image, the histogram allows the subject brightness and contrast to be evaluated to optimize the camera's exposure and contrast controls.
Fast Shutter Speed Range
The new DiMAGE 7i has a dynamic shutter-speed range from four seconds to a fast 1/4000 second to control exposure and motion in the program and aperture-priority exposures modes. In shutter priority and manual modes, the maximum shutter speed is 1/2000 second. Bulb exposures up to thirty seconds can also be made.
Compatible With a Variety of Flash Systems
The DiMAGE 7i can capture unpredictable natural light or use the reliable output of portable and studio flash systems with its extensive system of accessories. The DiMAGE 7i is compatible with the Minolta program flash 5600HS(D) or 3600HS(D) units. These powerful flash units can be used directly on the camera. Both flashes have a zoom head that automatically adjusts as the camera's lens is zoomed in and out, and their heads can be tilted for bounce illumination. The 5600HS (D) also has a swivel head and the flash output can be controlled with power ratios.
The wireless/remote flash function gives even more control over flash photography by allowing multiple off-camera Minolta flash units to be fired simultaneously by the camera without cables. Minolta 5600HS(D) or 3600HS(D) flash units can be placed around the subject to create attractive side lighting. By using the built-in flash and TTL metering, the camera controls the output of the off-camera flash units for perfect exposures. Unlike most slave flash systems, the built-in flash will fire the remote Minolta 5600HS(D) or 3600HS(D) units without influencing the lighting of the final image. The DiMAGE 7i is also compatible with normal slave units where the camera flash can act as a main or fill light while triggering single or multiple off-camera lighting units.
Perfect for close-up photography, Minolta has a high-quality macro lighting system that can also be used with the new DiMAGE 7i. The Minolta Macro Flash Controller can be coupled with the Macro Ring Flash 1200 or the Macro Twin Flash 2400 lighting sets. Both of these systems give photographers considerable control over lighting in confined spaces at close working distances.
The optional Minolta PC Flash Adapter allows the DiMAGE 7i to be connected to professional studio and location flash systems. Simply slide the PC Flash Adapter into the camera's accessory shoe and plug the flash's PC cord into the adapter. Designed for center-negative and center-positive polarities, the flash adapter is compatible with most studio and location lighting systems.
The DiMAGE 7i can be fired with the accessory 20-inch remote cord RC1000S or the 16-foot remote cord RC1000L.
A Fast, Responsive Camera
The DiMAGE 7i is a responsive imaging tool built to work effortlessly under demanding situations. The high-performance AF system is twice as fast as its predecessor - the Minolta DiMAGE 7. And with two continuous-advance rates, you are sure to catch the action as it unfolds.
New to the DiMAGE 7i is the UHS (Ultra High Speed) continuous-advance mode. Using SXGA size images (1280 X 960 pixels), this new mode can capture approximately 7 frames per second. This is equivalent to many motor drives on professional 35mm cameras. The standard continuous-advance mode can capture images of all sizes from full-size (2560 x 1920) to VGA (640 x 480) images at an increased rate of a maximum of 2 frames per second.
High Contrast LCD
The DiMAGE 7i is fitted with a new 1.8-inch low-temperature high-contrast color LCD monitor. The monitor has an extended color gamut, contrast, and dynamic range. These improvements make judging image quality and sharpness even easier. In addition, the monitor has a wide-viewing angle so that the camera does not need to be held perpendicularly to clearly view the live image.
Captured images can be easily accessed from the recording mode. Simply pressing the Quick View button displays the recorded images. The images can be enlarged to confirm sharpness and a histogram can be displayed to judge exposure. Images can be displayed with or without shooting data.
The controls and dials are laid out for clear, intuitive operation. All shooting controls are placed around the grip area. The camera can be controlled with the thumb and index finger while allowing a firm grip on the body. Creative and high-level functions are located on the function dial and Digital Effects Control on the opposite side of the camera. Setting single or multiple functions is quick and easy.
The function dial sets the metering, drive, and exposure modes as well as the white balance, camera sensitivity, and memorized camera settings. The Digital Effects Control allows changes to be made to color, saturation, contrast, and exposure. Located above the grip, the main dial turns the camera on and gives direct access to the recording, playback, movie, setup, and data-transfer modes.
Placed on the back of the camera, the controller is a straightforward five-way array used to control many of the camera's advanced features and menus. The controller has been redesigned with a separate four-way key and central enter button.
Lightweight, Sleek, Professional Body
The DiMAGE 7i is housed in a feather-light magnesium-alloy body. This high-tech alloy provides the benefits of rugged die-cast construction without the weight since magnesium is the lightest structural metal on earth. The alloy body was given a warm bright silver finish imparting an air of elegance to the DiMAGE 7i.
The DiMAGE 7i is not only light, it is compact. The body is significantly smaller than compact 35mm SLR cameras with a built-in flash and zoom lens. This sophisticated imaging system can easily slip into a fanny pack or hip bag.
A new contoured grip gives the DiMAGE 7i secure, comfortable handling. The grip has a new faux leather cover that extends to the back of the camera for comfort and security.
Digital Hyper Viewfinder
The Digital Hyper Viewfinder gives the camera the same feel as an SLR. It can be tilted between 0° and 90° for comfortable shooting at low angles or in confined spaces. In addition, the viewfinder has an improved optical system for easier viewing and a reduction in aberrations, as well as refined color matching for more accurate color rendition. Because the viewfinder LCD is shielded from ambient light, it makes it the perfect tool when working in bright lighting conditions.
Digital Effects Control
The Digital Effects Control (DEC) is an image-processing center built into the DiMAGE 7i. As with its predecessor, the DiMAGE 7, exposure, contrast, and color saturation can be adjusted before the image is captured.
The DiMAGE 7i has an additional filter setting to control the overall color of the image. When taking color images, the filter can affect the mood of the picture by making the color cooler or warmer in seven levels. When used with black and white images, the filter can create a warm or cool toned image similar to sepia or gold toners with photographic prints, as well as the unique tones of magenta and green. Ten tones are available.
The Digital Effects Control allows image data to be maximized at the scene by controlling the essential elements of image quality. Exposure controls the brightness of the image. Contrast controls the difference between brightness levels. Color saturation changes the vividness of the colors.
A Digital Enhanced Bracket can be made to guarantee the correct level of adjustment with the Digital Effects Control. This bracket is a series of images with a slight increase and decrease in exposure. The DiMAGE 7i can also make contrast, color saturation and filter bracket. Simply select the bracketing drive mode and then select the image quality to be bracketed. The camera will automatically make a three-image bracket of the selected quality.
Digital Subject Programs
Digital Subject Programs optimize exposure and image-processing controls for specific shooting conditions and subjects. Simply select the appropriate Digital Subject Program and the camera is ready to shoot. Five subject programs are available:
- Portrait: optimized to reproduce warm, soft skin tones and a slight defocusing of the background.
- Sport action: to make clear, sharp images of fast moving subjects.
- Sunset: optimized to reproduce rich, warm sunsets.
- Night portrait: for deep, subtle night scenes. When used with the built-in flash, the subject and background exposures are balanced.
- Text: for the crisp reproduction of black text on white backgrounds.
As with the DiMAGE 7, personal camera settings for specific situations can also be saved. The camera can memorize the exact functions and settings in use. These can be recalled and reapplied to the camera at any time.
Four Color Modes For Flexibility
Along with the Natural Color and Black and White modes found in its predecessor, the DiMAGE 7i has two new color modes for creative control: Vivid Color and Solarization. Vivid Color increases the saturation to produce vibrant color images. Solarization creates a partial reversal of image tones to produce unique imaging effects.
Audio and Video Capabilities
The DiMAGE 7i is capable of recording audio along with still images. Voice memo allows a 16-bit audio track of up to 15 seconds to be attached to an image after it has been captured. The voice memo can be played back in the camera.
Data imprinting allows the date or time to be printed on the image as well as text and serial numbers.
The DiMAGE 7i will not only produce great still-images, but also makes digital videos in multiple creative formats. Standard QVGA (320 x 240) color movies and monochrome night movies up to 60 seconds with 16-bit audio can be made. The night-movie mode can record movie clips under extreme low-light conditions. The interval function can produce a series of still images taken at regular intervals or it can combine the images into a time-lapsed movie at any image size. The time-lapse movie plays the images back at 4fps so that normally imperceptible motion springs to life, such as the blossoming of a flower or the setting of the sun. In UHS continuous advance, a VGA (640 x 480) movie file can be created of an unfolding event. In addition, the Digital Effects Control can be used with the movie modes to adjust color, contrast, saturation, and exposure.
The DiMAGE 7 will be available to consumers for an estimated street price of $1,099.
Specifications are subject to change without notice.
Please see the www.minoltausa.com Web site for the most updated specifications.
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Minolta DiMAGE 7i
|Number of effective pixels ||4.95 million |
|CCD ||2/3-inch type interline CCD with a total of 5.24 million pixels with a primary color filter |
|A/D conversion ||12 bit |
|Sensitivity ||Auto, Equivalent to ISO 100, 200, 400, 800 |
|Focal length ||7.2mm - 50.8mm (equivalent to 28mm - 200mm in 35mm format) |
|Lens construction ||16 elements in 13 groups (including 2 AD glass elements and 2 aspheric elements) |
|Maximum aperture ||f/2.8 - f/3.5 |
|Focusing range ||1.6 feet (0.5m) from the CCD to infinity |
|Macro focus range ||At 7.2mm: |
11.8 - 23.6 in (30 - 60 cm) from CCD
8.3 - 20 in (21 - 51 cm) from front of lens
At 42.7 - 50.8mm:
9.8 - 23.6 in (25 - 60 cm ) from CCD
5.1 - 19.7 in (13 - 50 cm) in front of lens
|Maximum magnification ||0.177x (1: 5.65) Equivalent to 0.7x (1:1.43) in 35mm format |
|Area covered at maximum magnification ||1.97 x 1.46 in (50 x 37mm) |
|Optical zooming control ||Manual zooming ring |
|Threaded filter diameter ||49mm |
|Viewfinder ||EVF (electronic viewfinder) with variable position of 0 to 90 degrees, Automatic monitor amplification and electronic magnification for manual focusing |
|Viewfinder Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) ||0.19 inch (4.8mm) ferroelectric reflective liquid crystal microdisplay with total 220,000 pixels |
|Monitor LCD ||1.8 inch (46mm) low-temperature polysilicon TFT color with total 118,000 pixels |
|Field of view ||EVF: Approximately 100% |
External LCD monitor: Approximately 100%
|Display-mode switch ||Auto-display, Electronic viewfinder display, external LCD-monitor display |
|Viewfinder magnification ||0.31 - 2.1x |
|Diopter control ||Variable: -5 to +0.5 |
|Eye relief ||20mm from eyepiece |
|Shutter ||CCD electronic shutter and mechanical shutter |
|Shutter speed ||4 seconds - 1/4000 second in programmed AE and aperture priority modes. Maximum shutter speed in shutter-priority and manual modes is 1/2000 seconds. Bulb (maximum 30 seconds) |
|Autofocus ||Video AF system |
|Autofocus areas ||Wide focus area, Spot focus point. Flex Focus Point control is available with spot focus point |
|Focus modes ||Autofocus Single shot AF, Continuous AF |
|Metering ||300 multi-segments, center-weighted and spot |
|Exposure control range ||Programmed AE and aperture-priority modes: |
Wide: EV 1 - 18, Telephoto: EV 1.6 - 18.5
Shutter-priority and manual modes:
Wide: EV 1 - 17, Telephoto: EV 1.6 - 17.7
|Exposure modes ||Programmed AE (with program shift), aperture priority shutter priority, and manual modes |
|Digital subject programs ||Portrait, sports action, sunset, night portrait, text |
|Exposure compensation ||+/- 2 EV (in 1/3 EV increments) |
|AE lock ||With spot-AE lock button or by pressing the shutter-release partway down |
|Flash metering ||ADI (Advanced Distance Integration), Pre-flash TTL, Manual flash control |
|Flash range ||Wide: approximately 1.6 - 12.5 feet (0.5-3.8m) |
Telephoto: approximately 1.6 - 9.8 feet (0.5-3m)
(Camera sensitivity: auto)
|Flash mode ||Fill-flash, red-eye reduction, rear flash sync, wireless/remote flash |
|Built-in flash recycling time ||Approximately 7 seconds |
|Flash compensation ||+/- 2 EV in 1/3 increments |
|Flash-sync speeds ||All shutter speeds |
|External flashes || |
Via built-in flash hot shoe: Auto-flash metering with Minolta Program Flash 5600HS(D), Program Flash 3600HS(D), Macro Twin Flash 2400*, Macro Flash Ring 1200*
* Macro Flash Controller is necessary
Compatible with Minolta PC Flash Adapter
|Continuous drive advance ||UHS (Ultra High Speed) continuous advance: 7 fps (approx.) with SXGA (1280 x 960) images |
Standard continuous advance: max 2 fps (approx.)
|Interval recording ||2 - 99 frames |
Interval time: 1-10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes
|Digital enhanced bracketing ||Exposure, contrast, color saturation, filter |
Exposure: 1.0, 0.5, 0.3 EV increments
Contrast and Color Saturation, Filter: fixed increments
Number of brackets: 3 frames
|Self-timer ||Approximately 10-second delayed release |
|Movie recording ||Standard movie mode: 60 seconds (max) at 15 fps with and without monaural audio |
Night movie mode: 60 seconds (max) at 15 fps with and without monaural audio
(Automatic selection function between standard and night movie modes available)
UHS (Ultra High Speed) continuous-advanced movie mode: 7 fps (approx.) without audio
Time-lapse movie mode: 4fsp without audio
|Audio ||Voice memo: 5 or 15 seconds (max) monaural audio with still image |
|Color modes ||Natural color, vivid color, black and white (neutral and toned), Solarization |
|White balance ||Automatic, Preset (Daylight, Tungsten, Fluorescent and Cloudy) and Custom |
|Sharpness settings ||Three levels (Soft, Normal, Hard) |
|Digital Effects Control ||Exposure, Color saturation, Contrast compensation, Filter |
|Digital zoom ||2x |
|Date imprinting ||Year/month/day (Format can be changed) |
Text and serial numbers
Date imprinting can be disabled
|Image-quality modes ||RAW, Super Fine, Fine, Standard, Economy |
|Number of recorded pixels (still images) ||2560x1920, 1600x1200, 1280x960, 640x480 |
|Number of recorded pixels (movie clips) ||UHS continuous-advanced and time-lapse movie modes: 640x480 |
Standard and night movie modes: 320x240
|Storage capacity (16MB) ||Approximate storage capacity of a 16 MB CompactFlash Card: |
RAW: 1 frame; Super Fine: 1 frame; Fine: 5 frames; Standard: 8 frames; Economy: 13 frames; Movie: 49 seconds (total seconds); Audio recording: 30 minutes, 9 seconds
Images recorded at 2560 x 1920 without voice memo or audio caption. Actual number of images may vary depending upon the subject and memory card used.
|File format ||JPEG, TIFF, Motion JPEG (MOV), RAW |
DCF 1.0-compliant, DPOF-compliant (Supported by printing functions in version 1.1)
|Printing output control ||PRINT Image Matching , Exif Print |
|Recording medium ||CompactFlash card Type I and Type II, IBM Microdrive (170MB, 340MB, 512MB, 1GB) |
|PC interface ||USB version 1.1 |
|Video output ||NTSC, PAL (can be selected by user) |
|Power ||Four AA Alkaline or four rechargeable AA Ni-MH batteries (Use of Ni-MH batteries is recommended.) |
|Battery performance (playback) ||Approximate continuous playback time: 110 min. |
Based on Minolta's standard test method: 1700mAh Ni-MH batteries, external LCD monitor on, EVF off.
|Battery performance (recording) ||Approximate number of recorded images: 200 frames |
Based on Minolta's standard test method: 1700mAh Ni-MH batteries, EVF on. External LCD monitor off. Full -size images (2560 x 1920). Standard image quality. No instant playback. No voice memo. Flash used with 50% of the frames.
|External power source ||6V DC with specified AC adapter (sold separately) |
|Dimensions (WxHxD) ||4.61 x 3.56 x 4.43 inches (117 x 90.5 x 112.5 mm) |
|Weight ||18.5 oz (525 g) (without batteries and CompactFlash card) |
|System Requirements ||IBM PC/AT compatible computer with Windows XP, Windows Me, Windows 2000, Windows 98* or Windows 98 SE* and with a USB port as standard interface |
Apple Macintosh with Mac OS 8.6** - 9.2.2 or Mac OS X 10.1 - 10.1.3 with a USB port as standard interface
* Users with Windows 98 and Windows 98 SE must install dedicated driver software included in the DiMAGE 7i package.
** Users with Mac OS 8.6 must download and install free driver from the Apple Computer website.
|Accessories ||Standard : Neck Strap NS-DG7; Lens Cap (49mm) Lf-1249 ; Accessory Shoe Cap SC-9 ; AV Cable AVC-300 ; CF (CompactFlash) 16 MB card ; USB Cable USB-100 ; DiMAGE Software CD-ROM (includes DiMAGE Viewer) ; Lens Shade for DiMAGE 7i DLS-7i, Four AA Ni-MH batteries, Ni-MH charger |
Optional : AC Adapter AC-1L ; External High Power Battery Pack Kit EPB-100 ; Remote Cord RC1000s ; Remote Cord RC 1000L ; Step Up Flash Adapter 49mm - 62mm ; PC Flash Adapter PCT-100