Colour space confusion
Before we go on to look at some real samples from the camera I'd better explain a little something I discovered about the DiMAGE 7 not long after starting this review. As I do with all my reviews I run the camera through a set of standard checks before commencing the review. These are really designed to ensure that the camera delivered isn't damaged and isn't so pre-production that it's unsuitable for review. I include a couple of colour patch shots and flowers to check colour.
Looking over the D7's images I couldn't help but feel that certain colours seemed under-saturated (mostly greens and blues). At this stage though I simply put this down to how Minolta were processing the image.
I also installed the supplied Minolta Image Viewer application (which I'll cover in more detail later in this review). I noted an interesting option when using this application, there was a 'colour matching' checkbox and you could select any one of nine industry standard colour spaces, I selected sRGB.
Testing the Image Viewer I noticed that the very same images which I'd been viewing in Photoshop and ACDSEE looked significantly different. Notably colours were far more vivid and accurate. Loading a D7 native JPEG into the Minolta Image Viewer application and re-saving it without any modifications resulted in clearly different images:
|Native DiMAGE 7 image
|Converted by Image Viewer to sRGB
For the curious among you click here for the same image saved in Adobe RGB colour space.
You can clearly see the stronger yellow, green and blues as well as a slightly different contrast (gamma). At this stage it was clear to me that the DiMAGE 7 was shooting in its own colour space and that the Minolta Image Viewer application is capable of converting this colour space into an industry accepted colour space (including sRGB, Adobe RGB and ColorMatchRGB). Indeed hunting around in the installation directory for the Image Viewer I found two ICC profiles (one for JPEG/TIFF and one for RAW), however these didn't appear to work well in Photoshop.
Thanks to Mike Chaney for producing the following CIE chromaticity charts for sRGB, Adobe RGB and the DiMAGE 7 colour spaces (both JPEG/TIFF and RAW).
|sRGB color space||Adobe RGB color space
(used by most professionals)
|DiMAGE 7 JPEG/TIFF colour space||DiMAGE 7 RAW colour space|
This raises a few important points:
- It's a good thing that the DiMAGE 7 shoots in a wider
colour gamut than sRGB (which has a very limiting and tight colour gamut),
however it would be better to have a menu option which allows you to
select between this special proprietary wide gamut colour space and
- This is not documented in the DiMAGE 7 manual. I feel
it should be made very clear to users, there's certainly a chance that
the average user will simply load images directly from the camera using
a card reader and never use the Minolta Image Viewer. These users may
well end up disappointed by the D7's colour.
- The average user won't know what colour space they're
in, indeed most users don't even calibrated their monitors. However,
at a consumer level, most of you will be viewing this web page and all
the digital photographs you ever deal with in the sRGB colour space.
- DiMAGE 7 owners will now have to use the Minolta Image Viewer to re-save their images before using them for the web, monitor viewing or printing. This adds another step into an owners workflow.
Raising this issue with Minolta they got back to me with the following statement:
The DiMAGE 7 indeed shoots in its own Colourspace in RAW mode and Tiff/JPEG compressed form.
The Minolta Colourspace is unique to 7 and 5, it most closely resembles the Colourspace of sRGB.
The Minolta Colourspace includes detail taken from the CxProcess. When a file is opened by the Minolta Utility it offers the option of conversion to another 'standard' Colourspace, or ICC profile. This translation is carried out by the Minolta software and is then offered to be retained upon saving in JPEG. Tiff files save this as a matter of course.
When you open the image directly into Photoshop or any other software other than the Minolta Utility it is unable to decipher the additional information, so it plays no part in the final image. This can lead the image to appear less vivid.
It would appear then that it is preferable to always open the images directly into the Minolta Utility first. This is possible directly from the camera or via a cardreader or similar.
I hope Minolta decide to include an addendum in the camera packaging to make owners aware of the advantages of running the images through the Image Viewer.
A few more examples of the different between images straight from the camera and those re-saved by Minolta Image Viewer:
|Native DiMAGE 7 image
|Converted by Image Viewer to sRGB
Or as Adobe RGB (1,557 KB)
|Native DiMAGE 7 image
|Converted by Image Viewer to sRGB
Or as Adobe RGB (1,572 KB)
Important review notes
From this point onwards in the review if you see the following text: "Image re-saved to sRGB colour space" you will know that the images / crops of images you are viewing have been run through the Minolta Image Viewer application. Note that NO adjustments other than the colour space conversion are made. I noticed no difference in detail (resolution) between the native and converted images. The Minolta Image Viewer appears to maintain EXIF information.
JPEG/TIFF Image Size & Quality
Standard Test Scene
The DiMAGE 7 offers a wide variety of resolution and image format options. You can choose from JPEG (three compression levels) or TIFF at 2560 x 1920 (full native resolution), 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960 or 640 x 480. As well as RAW format which is fixed at 2560 x 1920.
To give an impression of what some of the combinations of image size and quality produce the table below is a cross reference of some of them:
- 2560 x 1920 RAW
- 2560 x 1920 TIFF
- 2560 x 1920 JPEG FINE
- 2560 x 1920 JPEG STANDARD
- 2560 x 1920 JPEG ECONOMY
- 1600 x 1200 JPEG FINE
- 1280 x 960 JPEG FINE
- 640 x 480 JPEG FINE
Images below are cropped 240 x 100 area of the image magnified
200% (nearest neighbour).
|2560 x 1920|
Minolta RAW (.MRW - not available for download) as saved JPEG 2,753 KB
14,457 KB (Not available for download)
|1600 x 1200|
|1280 x 960|
|640 x 480|
Note that because we're looking here at the quality of the D7's JPEG/TIFF encoder none of these images have been run through the Minolta Image Viewer except for the RAW file (which must be to be viewed / converted). Overall JPEG FINE is indistinguishable from TIFF, though the RAW image looks different (though not necessarily better). After this at the STANDARD and ECONOMY settings JPEG artifacts start to become visible. The D7 delivers very nice crisp clean 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960 and 640 x 480 images.
|Steamin' Mad by ahrensjt|
from Angered Subjects (Street Photography)
|Smile by Olymguy|
from Ultra Asian Indian Female Faces
|Space Shuttle Cockpit- by vbuhay|
from Aircraft Control Stick
The Polish town of Katowice is not known as an area of beauty, but as all photographers know, that doesn't mean that beauty can't be found if you know where to look. Mariusz Pietranek used a drone to look down on the colorful sedimentation tanks at an ironworks.
New York Times video journalist Ben Solomon spent a harrowing three weeks accompanying Iraqi Major Sajjad al-Hour as he and his men fought to retake Mosul from I.S. forces.
The 3D VR camera launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 goes on sale beginning June 26.
Noctilucent clouds, a crescent moon and Venus were visible in the pre-dawn sky over Budapest yesterday. Photographer György Soponyai captured NASA's astronomy picture of the day.
Squirming pets won't sit still for photos? A Kickstarter campaign is looking to help.
Find out how Chris Burkard shifted from editorial photography to his true passions: landscapes, conservation and, of course, surfing.
The updated EyeEm app scans your camera roll and picks images that are composed particularly well, have the best quality, or highest chance of selling on EyeEm Market.
It's three years old but still a solid option for a Micro Four Thirds shooter looking for a high-quality, fast, wide-angle prime. Take a look at how we got along with it.
Tamron has announced the longest all-in-one zoom lens currently available, the 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD. Designed for Canon and Nikon crop-sensor cameras, the lens will be available in July.
When you're ready to step-up to full-frame from an entry-level or midrange camera, the choices can be overwhelming. Find out which models came out on top in our $1200-2000 enthusiast ILC roundup.
Just a guy wearing a VR headset, smashing invisible Goombas in Central Park.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this gorgeous aerial photo of the Martian landscape. And if you look really close, you can actually see the Mars Curiosity rover in the very middle.
The city of Laguna Beach, California has provided some clarification around the kinds of photography permits it offers.
Later this year, a VR180 camera will be Joining Yi's Halo and 360 VR cameras, which will offer stereo 3D capture, yet be as easy to use and compact as a 2D camera.
Caltech researchers have developed an 'optical phased array' chip that uses time delays instead of a lens to focus the incoming light.
Pricing and shipping have finally been revealed for two highly anticipated lenses from Sigma, announced in February.
These macro photos of clouds of paint billowing through clear water might look like high-quality CGI, but they're real photographs. And photographer Alberto Seveso told us how they were made.
Facebook is testing a feature that prevents people from saving, sharing, or even taking a screenshot of your profile picture.
We've reshot the Sony a9 in our studio. The short story: it's sharper! The long story... well you can read it all here.
The collection will be officially launched during the Europeana Transcribathon Campus Berlin 2017 crowdsourcing event which will be held on 22 and 23 June at the Berlin State Library.
Light gives us some insight into the preparations for the launch of the pre-order shipments of its much anticipated L16 multi-lens camera.
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has confirmed in a tweet that the second lens on the back of the OnePlus 5 uses a 1.6x optical zoom and that digital zoom is used to reach the claimed 2x zoom factor.
Fujifilm recently unveiled the second in its series of affordable cine lenses, the MK50-135mm T2.9. We got our hands on it for a couple days and took it for a spin.
Leica's first attempt at an M-series digital rangefinder was rough around the edges, but set a pattern for all of the cameras that came after it. In this week's Throwback Thursday article, Barney remembers the M8.
No stranger to extreme situations, legendary climber and filmmaker Jimmy Chin talks to Outside Magazine about his career, and the challenge of filming Alex Honnold's rope-free solo climb of El Capitain.
A company backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin is attempting to make video conferencing less terrible.
Rangefinder magazine asked five professional portrait and wedding photographers about posting on Instagram; no surprise, they got five different answers.
This captivating stop motion film was created by stripping away one layer of wood at a time. It's hard to look away.
It will enable users to simulate the presence of the sun, moon and Milky Way and see how they interact with an area's topography.
Since its introduction in November last year Instagram's live streaming feature has been used by millions, but videos could not be archived for watching at a later stage. A new update has now added the capability.