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Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D Review

January 2005 | By Phil Askey


Review based on a full production Maxxum 7D, firmware 1.10*

The Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D (Dynax 7D in Europe) was first revealed to the general public on 12th February 2004 at the PMA tradeshow, at that time we were able to produce a hands-on preview of a pre-production camera. Finally on 15th September 2004 just before the Photokina tradeshow Konica Minolta fleshed out the detail with full specifications and an official press release. A few days later we were able to get our hands on a pre-production camera and publish some exclusive samples and a full gallery. This final review is based on a full production camera.

The Maxxum 7D is Konica Minolta's first digital SLR for five years (since the RD-3000), it is based on the Maxxum 7 (Dynax 7) film SLR with a very similar body design and control layout. The main differences are obviously that the 7D has a digital 'heart', a large LCD monitor and control system and loses the 7's grip sensor. The 7D is clearly targeted at the higher end of the digital SLR market, at keen prosumer's and professionals, and that's reflected in its price at $1,599 (body only) it's up against cameras such as the Canon EOS 20D, Fujifilm S3 Pro, Olympus E-1 and Nikon D70 (which while cheaper is probably equally as capable).

* UPDATE 27/Feb/2005 - Firmware 1.10

We posted the original version of this review on 17/Jan/2005, on 14/Feb/2005 Konica Minolta issued a firmware update, named 'version 1.10'. This has resolved a couple of issues we discovered and wrote about in our original review. We wouldn't normally do updates to reviews however this update was delivered very quickly after our review was posted and does produce a very significant improvement in performance. We have now updated this review to reflect this new firmware version, the individual page updates are:

  • Page 4 (Body & Design): USB 2.0 tranfser rates up to 25 Mbps (compared to 7.5 Mbps)
  • Page 7 (Displays): Blinking highlights are now available in Instant Playback
  • Page 9 (Menus): Transfer mode now supports Remote Storage
  • Page 10 (Timings): Confirmed all timings, replaced Continuous and
          File Flush Timing (both improved vastly)
  • Page 26 (Conclusion): Corrected 'Cons' list

Anti-Shake

The Maxxum 7D's "unique selling point" is its Anti-Shake stabilization system, unique among digital SLR's. Minolta first introduced this feature with the DiMAGE A1, it is unique in its operation because instead of stabilizing a lens element (as in a traditional image stabilization system) the sensor is stabilized. Inside the 7D its six megapixel CCD is mounted on a movable platform controlled by two actuators (x and y axis).

The system works by analyzing input from motion detectors in the camera body and producing an inverse movement in the CCD. The system can be disabled (via switch on the rear of the camera) and can also detect a panning movement and only compensate for movement on the opposite axis. What's exciting and new about this system is that it instantly adds stabilization to the entire range of Minolta lenses. An 'Anti-Shake' indicator is visible through the viewfinder which provides feedback to the photographer as to how much the system is having to compensate for shake.

Note: If you're used to seeing the effect of optical image stabilization through the viewfinder of your SLR you have to get used to the fact that you don't get that on the 7D.

Lenses

In conjunction with their announcement of the 7D Konica Minolta also announced two new lenses designed specifically for use with the 7D, according to Konica Minolta these "are designed to produce high quality digital images especially when used in combination with the new Maxxum 7D and its body-integral Anti-Shake technology" (I'm not sure exactly what this means as they do seem to be two fairly typical high quality lenses). These are the two lenses we will be using for the majority of our gallery samples (and the AF 50 mm F1.4 for comparison / test shots).

Konica Minolta AF 17-35 mm F2.8-F4.0 (D)
(26 - 53 mm equiv. FOV, 2.0x zoom)
US$ 499.95
Konica Minolta AF 28-75 mm F2.8 (D)
(42 - 113 mm equiv. FOV, 2.7x zoom)
US$ 409.95


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

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This article is Copyright 2005 Phil Askey and the review in part or in whole may NOT be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. For information on reproducing any part of this review (or any images) please contact: Phil Askey

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