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Design

The Maxxum 7D's body design inherits a lot from the Maxxum 7 including the dominant rubber control dials on the top of the camera (one for exposure / flash compensation, the other for shooting mode / drive mode). At first glance the 7D looks crowded and overloaded with buttons and dials, to be honest it is but it takes a remarkably short amount of time to learn the purpose of each and appreciate the ability to control the camera without always having to dive into menus. It's not going to win any pretty camera awards but it does have a certain masculine mechanical appeal. The entire rear of the camera is plastic (although solid, slightly too shiny for me), the front and top are magnesium alloy, as with all digital SLR's the 7D has a metal chassis.

In your hand

In your hand the 7D feels very nice and comfortable, that soft rubber delivers a certain confidence in both the build quality and your ability to hold the camera steady (which is a bit ironic really). The camera feels very substantial and well put together, it is completely solid with no rattles or creaks.

Side by side, size and weight

The 7D is approximately the same size as the Canon EOS 20D but weighs approximately 100g more. Adding a lens to these cameras shows the difference in weight between the Nikon F2.8, Canon F2.8 and Konica Minolta F2.8-F4.0. In the image below we tried to match each camera with roughly equivalent lenses: Nikon 17-35 mm F2.8 D, Konica Minolta 17-35 mm F2.8-F4.0 D, Canon 17-35 mm F2.8 L.

Left to right: Nikon D70, Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D, Canon EOS 20D

Camera Dimensions
(W x H x D)
Body weight
(inc. batt/CF)
Body & lens weight
(as pictured)
Nikon D70 140 x 111 x 78 mm 679 g (1.5 lb) 1424 g (3.1 lb)
Canon EOS 20D 144 x 106 x 72 mm 770 g (1.7 lb) 1310 g (2.9 lb)
Konica Minolta 7D 150 x 106 x 78 mm 872 g (1.9 lb) 1302 g (2.9 lb)

LCD Monitor

The 7D joins a very special club who's only other members are the Nikon D2H and D2X, you have to be a D-SLR and you have to have a 2.5" LCD monitor. The screen itself has a semi-matte anti-reflective coating and is fairly bright, although didn't seem as sharp as some 1.8" or 2.0" units we've seen in other cameras. The 7D also comes with a slim clip-on protective cover which fits flush over the LCD monitor and protects it from getting scratched.

Recording mode display

It's worth noting that the 7D doesn't have 'control panel' LCD displays, instead it uses the LCD monitor to provide a virtual 'control panel' which summarizes virtually all of the camera's current settings. There are three recording display modes available; full, basic and off. This 'Recording mode display' intelligently rotates itself based on the current orientation of the camera (clever). A summary of information displayed is shown below (in full mode).

Horizontal orientation

1. Memory / exposure / exposure panel 6. EV scale
2. Flash panel 7. Color mode / sensitivity panel
3. Digital Effects panel 8. Image size / quality panel
4. Metering / AF area / AF mode / Release 9. White balance panel
5. AE lock / Battery condition panel 10. Frame counter

Vertical orientation

Reproduced from the Maxxum 7D manual with permission.

Viewfinder

The 7D has a very nice viewfinder with a quality glass prism which delivers a bright clear view and a frame which seems larger than most of the competition (it fills your field of view nicely). While the focusing screen is perfectly usable I would have preferred something with a slightly courser grain to it. The eyepiece sensors will automatically switch off the LCD monitor when you raise the eyepiece to your eye.

Viewfinder view

Through the viewfinder you will see the center spot-metering circle and nine AF areas indicated. The selected / in-use AF area is indicated on a half-press of the shutter release with a red glow. The 'Anti-Shake scale' which runs vertically down the right side of the focusing screen indicates how much the camera is having to compensate for movement, this is obviously a combination of the current actual movement, focal length and shutter speed, ideally you should be aiming to keep as few lights lit as possible. Below the focusing screen is the status line with various items of information as noted.


The image in the diagram above is simulated and that there is no situation where all of the AF areas would be lit at the same time.

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