0700 EST: It's been a rush (just three hours with the camera so far) but I've managed to put together a first look at the DiMAGE 7Hi. Also included in this article is comparison of features and specifications with the DiMAGE 7i. While it's very welcome to see a manufacturer developing their model line it's a little surprising to see the 7Hi just six months after the 7i and especially considering that the improvements could probably have been included in the original model. A surprising number of the improvements made were mentioned as cons in my 7i review.

Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi new features / specifications

  • Black body, rubber hand grip (front only)
  • New 'Extra Fine' JPEG mode (less compression, larger file size ~3 MB)
  • Economy JPEG mode removed
  • Larger internal buffer (up to 5 RAW, 7 Extra Fine, 10 Fine, 17 Standard frames)
  • Full size shooting at 3 fps
  • Slower shutter speeds (8 sec in Program AE, 15 sec in AP / SP / M)
  • PC Sync Flash terminal on left side of body
  • P-Reset Undo
  • New Fluorescent 1 and 2 white balance
  • Three manual presets can be recorded / selected
  • Adobe RGB color space 'colour mode' can be selected
  • Improved Quick View (magnify, histogram)
  • Color space profiles can be embedded in JPEG header (recognized by Photoshop)
  • More control over camera settings / controls (Custom menu tab in Setup menu)
  • Supports Print Image Matching II

Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi pictures

Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi new display / menu options

When Adobe RGB color mode is sleected the 'Adobe' icon appears on the live view screen Gone is the 'Economy' JPEG mode, now we have 'Extra fine' mode
Color mode now specifically notes sRGB for Vivid and Natural (default) color modes, you can now also select Adobe RGB New Custom menu in Setup menu provides more control over camera settings

Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi Studio flash / color mode samples

Below are four sample images taken with different combinations of color mode and embedded profiles. These shots were taken in our normal studio environment with two Elinchrom 300S strobes connected to the DiMAGE 7Hi via its PC Sync socket, power on the strobes had to be turned very low to accomodate the 7Hi's minimum aperture of F9.5. Camera was set to manual exposure mode, automatic white balance.

When you shoot with embedded profiles enabled the camera creates a .JPE file and a .THM file, the .JPE is a normal JPEG file with a full ICC profile embedded in it, this can be opened in an application which recognizes ICC profiles (such as Adobe Photoshop) and the correct color profile will be assigned. Note that the Adobe RGB sample below will not look correct in your browser and must be loaded into Photoshop.

Vivid (sRGB) color mode with embedded profile
1,523 KB
Natural (sRGB) color mode with embedded profile
1,472 KB
Adobe RGB color mode with embedded profile
1,480 KB
Natural (sRGB) color mode, no embedded profile
1,494 KB

General impressions / comments

I'm glad to see the improvements introduced with the DiMAGE 7Hi, the new black case looks far more professional and the rubber hand grip does make the camera feel more the part. I'm a little disappointed that some of these simple changes weren't introduced with the 7i, and just six months on since the announcement of that camera I can imagine a lot of DiMAGE 7i owners may feel a little bitter.

It's also a shame that Minolta hasn't addressed one of the 7i's major weaknesses, ISO 100 noise levels. Since writing my review of that camera I've had an opportunity to compare it to more, newer, five megapixel digital cameras (such as Nikon's Coolpix 5700). All of these cameras exhibit far lower noise levels at ISO 100 than the 7i, and noise doesn't appear to be any better with the advent of the 7Hi. Minolta, please put at least as much effort into improving image quality (reducing noise).

Samples gallery

The samples below were taken with a full production DiMAGE 7Hi (Ver.1.00u), as noted some of the images were taken in the Adobe RGB colour space (profile embedded) and as such the full size original images must be viewed in an ICC profile aware application (such as Adobe Photoshop). Click on the thumbnail to view a reduced size (800 x 600) copy already converted to the sRGB colour space.

Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission. I make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), I do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

ISO 100, 1/750 sec, F5.6
Original: 2,628 KB
Adobe RGB
ISO 100, 1/350 sec, F9.5
Original: 2,308 KB
ISO 100, 1/180 sec, F5.6
Original: 2,603 KB
Adobe RGB
ISO 100, 1/125 sec, F5.6
Original: 2,628 KB
Adobe RGB
ISO 100, 1/500 sec, F8.0
Original: 2,268 KB
Adobe RGB
ISO 100, 1/750 sec, F5.6
Original: 2,542 KB