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Minolta DiMAGE 7i

Minolta updates their revolutionary 5 megapixel electronic SLR with numerous enhancements, keeps the excellent lens.

(Next): Executive Overview>>

Page 1:Intro and Highlights

Review First Posted: 6/15/2002

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5.0-megapixel CCD delivers uninterpolated images as large as 2,568 x 1,928 pixels.
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Tack sharp 7x optical zoom lens covers a 28-200mm equivalent focus range.
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Ferroelectric LCD technology gives sharp electronic viewfinder image that is visible even at low light levels.
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Numerous enhancements improve operating speed, viewfinder display quality, exposure range and more.

 

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Manufacturer Overview
Minolta Corporation is a traditional camera manufacturer of long experience, who made a slow but calculated entry into the digital marketplace. Like its popular line of 35mm SLRs, the Maxxum Series, Minolta's Dimage Digital Cameras are developing a reputation for innovative technology in light metering, exposure control, and autofocus systems. Their lenses in particular have received high praise for their optical quality.

Last year (2001), Minolta shook up the high end of the prosumer market, by beating everyone else to the punch with the first five megapixel prosumer digital camera. - And it wasn't just "any" five megapixel model either, but the Dimage 7, an electronic SLR design with a remarkably high quality 7x optical zoom lens, a host of advanced image-control functions, and an all-new electronic viewfinder using ferroelectric LCD technology for impressive low light performance.

Now, just over a year later, Minolta has upped the ante again, with the Dimage 7i, a substantial upgrade to the original Dimage 7. The list of added features and improvements is long and impressive, but the most salient are a dramatic improvement in autofocus speed and shutter delay, the addition of high-speed sequence and movie modes, and a significant change in the camera's native color space. Many of the 7i's improvements are impressive enough in themselves, but viewed collectively the effect is that of an almost entirely new camera. Perhaps more to the point the upgrades aren't just changes for the sake of change itself, but the obvious result of listening carefully to the Dimage 7's existing community of users. Overall, an impressive upgrade to what was already an excellent camera. Read on for all the details!


Highlights

  • True 4.95-megapixel CCD delivering resolutions as high as 2,560 x 1,920 pixels.
  • 12-Bit A/D conversion.
  • Digital Hyper Electronic viewfinder with 90-degree variable position.
  • 1.8-inch TFT color LCD monitor.
  • 7.2-50.8mm lens (equivalent to a 28-200mm lens on a 35mm camera) with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 to f/3.5, depending on the zoom setting.
  • 2x digital zoom.
  • Auto and Manual focus.
  • Macro option at maximum telephoto or wide angle zoom settings.
  • Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, and Subject Program shooting modes.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to four seconds, with Bulb setting for longer exposures (up to 30 seconds), up to 1/4,000 under certain conditions.
  • 300 segment Multi-Segment, Center-Weighted, and Spot metering options, with AE Lock function.
  • Adjustable ISO with five settings.
  • Built-in, pop-up flash with three operating modes, a dual-mode flash metering system, and manually adjustable intensity.
  • External flash hot-shoe for Minolta accessory flash units.
  • Built-in support for wireless TTL flash exposure with certain Minolta flashes. (Very slick!)
  • Continuous Shooting, Interval, and Movie shooting modes.
  • Digital Effects Control for Exposure, Color Saturation, Contrast Compensation, and Hue (color filter) control, with Bracketing
  • Adjustable White Balance with six modes.
  • Sharpness and Color control via menu options. Color modes include Standard, Vivid Color, Black & White, and Solarization.
  • RAW, uncompressed TIFF, and JPEG file formats.
  • Images saved to CompactFlash Type I or II memory cards (16MB card included), Microdrive compatible.
  • "Storage-Class" USB interface.
  • USB cable and interface software for connecting to a computer and downloading images.
  • NTSC or PAL selectable video output signal, with cable included.
  • Power supplied by four AA batteries or separate AC adapter (available as an accessory).
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compliant.


Many of our readers are familiar with the original Dimage 7, so I put together the following feature comparison between the Dimage 7i and its predecessor. (There could be other differences as well, but these are the ones I'm aware of.) The sheer length of this list will give you some idea of the extent of the improvements Minolta has made in the Dimage 7's design:

 

Feature Dimage 7i Original Dimage 7
New custom color space
Color space is quite close to sRGB, making images more usable without postprocessing in Minolta's software.
Custom color space had a very wide color gamut, but images had to be processed through the Dimage Viewer utility for acceptable color.
Autofocus Speed
2x faster, quite fast now
Somewhat slower than average
Shutter lag
(Related to AF speed)
0.64-0.78 (wide-tele) for full AF, down to 130 msec for prefocus
1.00-1.26 (wide-tele) for full AF, down to 170 msec for prefocus
Continuous shooting mode speed
1.62 frames/sec (spec is 2 fps) in large/fine mode
0.95 frames/sec (spec was 1.1 fps) in large/fine mode
Ultra high speed continuous shooting mode
7.14 frame/second (spec is 7.5 fps) at 1280x960 resolution
n/a
Variety of movie functions
  • Audio added
  • Night Movie Mode
  • UHS continuous-advance movies
  • Time lapse movies
Single movie mode only, no audio
Macro capability at both telephoto and wide angle lens positions.
Macro operates over slight zoom range at telephoto end, at single wide-angle focal length. (No change in minimum macro coverage though.)
Macro available only at telephoto end of the lens' range.
Direct Manual Focus
Manual focus ring optionally active in both MF and AF modes. - Useful for making small tweaks to autofocus-determined focus setting.
Manual focus ring active only in MF mode.
Maximum shutter speed
1/4,000
(Only in conjunction with small lens apertures. 1/2,000 otherwise.)
1/2,000
TTL flash operation
TTL metering for Macro Twin Flash T2400 and Macro Ring Flash R1200. Wireless TTL flash operation for Program Flash 5600HS [D] and 3600HS [D] units.
Non-TTL flash metering.
Manual Flash Power Control
Three levels of flash power, manually selectable: Full, 1/4 power, and 1/16 power. (Very handy for use with studio strobes "slaved" to camera flash, because no pre-flash!)
Auto flash only
Improved Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)
122,000 pixels, seemingly much faster refresh rate. (Little or no "tearing" of display with camera or subject movement.)
118,000 pixels, slower refresh rate.
Alignment aids in the viewfinder
Two new optional display overlays, grid and scale help with subject centering and alignment.
n/a
Real-time Histogram
Small (optional) window shows "live" histogram overlaid on top of VF display. (Larger histogram still available in Playback mode.)
Post-capture histogram in playback mode only.
Enhanced Quick-View mode
Enlarged playback of recorded images available in Quick View as well as normal playback. Magnification of 1.2-4.0x in 0.2x increments.
Magnification in normal playback mode only, Three steps of 2.0, 2.5, 4.0x.
Various color modes
Color, vivid color, black & white, solarization.
Color, black & white only.
"Filter" option added for color adjustment
"Filter" option on Digital Effects control provides 7-step range of adjustment of overall image color, along blue-yellow color axis. (Handy for matching color temperature of lighting.)
n/a
Folder names
Standard or date names
Standard only
Text Input
"Electronic keyboard" for text entry for folder naming or image imprinting.
n/a
Voice Memo
Attach voice annotation to captured images.
n/a
Sound effects
Optional shutter click sound, etc.
n/a
Improved ergonomics
New grip, slightly deeper (?) with contoured recess for finger. Much more secure grip on camera. Slightly repositioned shutter button. Redesigned zoom ring on lens gives better grip there too.
n/a

 


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