Malibu Scope -- Beyond the Long Zoom.
Somewhere between the 10x magnification of a long zoom and a 60x entry-level telescope is the spotting scope. Designed for terrestrial viewing, it behaves more like a long zoom than a telescope, displaying the image in the right orientation. And because you can mount a camera (film or digital) to it, it makes a tempting accessory. The $250 Malibu scope includes a carrying case (because it's small enough to go with you, like a large zucchini), tabletop tripod and a camera adapter. The weatherized scope with multi-coated elements to reduce glare has two controls: a zoom ring that travels from 12-36x 50mm magnification and a focus ring. Read the review on the Malibu Scope for all the details!
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D review updated to full production status.
The Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D is easily one of the most eagerly-awaited digital cameras in the last year or so. Many thousands (millions?) of Minolta film SLR owners have been waiting and hoping for a digital SLR to use with their extensive collections of (typically excellent) Minolta optics. Now that the Maxxum 7D has arrived, their wait is over, and the obvious quality and features of the new model appear to justify the long wait. While it has the usual "Green zone" full-auto mode for pure "point & shoot" photography, the 7D has an absolute wealth of controls and modes, that could make for a longer learning curve before you become familiar with all its capabilities. That said though, once you do learn its ins and outs, the 7D's user interface is one of the most powerful and fluid we've seen to date. The 7D's "bristling" (Shawn's word, and a good one) collection of controls makes for very easy, intuitive operation once you learn where they all are and what they all do. In our testing, the 7D's body-based anti-shake system worked very well, delivering a good two f-stops of improvement in maximum usable exposure times, at least out to the 135mm limit of our testing. (Its effectiveness does seem to decrease somewhat as you get to longer focal lengths.) Considering that this system effectively turns all your lenses into anti-shake models, the higher cost of the 7D's body relative to competing models seems very well justified. Negative points were relatively minor (depending, of course, on the type of shooting you're looking to do) - A slight tendency to underexpose, particularly when confronted with scenes having strong highlights, an occasionally hesitant AF system, and overly aggressive noise suppression at high ISOs. Overall, a camera that we have no qualms about recommending to loyal Minolta shooters, and one that we're confident will prove to have been well worth the wait. Read the Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D review for all the details!
Top 3 photos this month win:
1 Canon PIXMA PRO-100
2 Canon PIXMA MG6320
3 Canon PIXMA MG5420