Minolta DiMAGE 7 Review
The DiMAGE 7 takes its layout from the SLR-like school of design, it's not the most attractive digital camera to date with lots of angular edges and elements which look as though they don't really belong. The lens in particular doesn't seem to "blend" into the body in the same way as we've seen of other fixed lens 'SLR-like' digital cameras, the main body itself, which extends only to the right, is quite thin and the hand grip doesn't add much to this. I found that the camera got especially hot around the compact flash compartment (just under your hand) which was surprising.
As far as I know this is the first digital camera to have its battery compartment located on the left side under the CCD/LCD construction. This has the consequence of making the camera feel heavier on the left than the right, this added to the narrow grip doesn't help the comfort level when holding the camera). I'm also concerned as to what effect a set of hot NiMH batteries would have on the CCD directly above them (although in use the right side of the camera seems to generate far more heat).
My first impression when I picked it up was that the plastic hand grip's flat front face loses some comfort / stability which would have been there had it been a more rounded shape (and rubber coated), it's also a little small for my hands (I'd consider I have regular "Caucasian adult male hands").
Metal or plastic?
This debate has been raging since the camera's announcement and first product photos. We can now bring you some detailed information on the DiMAGE 7's body make-up.
As you can see from the image on the left, the main body is made from a single piece of diecast magnesium alloy. Obviously the inside of the case contains the electronics and imager. On the outside is attached the barrel grip, lens, LCD viewfinder assembly, main LCD, dials, flash and compartment doors. I've taken the trouble of highlighting the areas of the DiMAGE's exterior which are actually exposed metal from the substructure seen above:
As you can see a good deal of the exterior of the camera is metal, maybe a little less than Fujifilm's 6900Z but still this ensures the camera is stiff, doesn't have any creaks or obvious chassis strength problems.
My major complaint is with the overall finish and build quality of the camera, it really doesn't give you the impression (or the satisfaction) of being $1500 worth of digital camera. Here are my list of gripes concerned with finish and build:
- Lightweight plastic hand grip, bad shape (flat faced) and plastic. A rubber, rounded grip would have helped a great deal.
- Some of the buttons aren't fitted centrally in their location.
- Details like the battery and compact flash compartment door feel flimsy.
- The 'rubber grommet' covers for connectors didn't stay in place.
- The zoom mechanism doesn't move smoothly, it's stiff and feels as though you're cranking plastic against plastic.
- The fly-by-wire manual focus ring wasn't fitted properly and rubbed against the left side of the case.
These details are considered with both lower priced (Fujifilm 6900Z) and directly competitive (Olympus E-10; superb build quality) digital cameras.
Top status LCD 'data panel'
A diagram indicating all possible status LCD settings is shown below.
Diagram reproduced from the DiMAGE 7 manual.
Rear LCD Monitor
One thing the DiMAGE 7 does very well is maintain an image on either the LCD monitor or EVF in low light situations. It automatically increases CCD sensitivity to continue to provide a bright image, in extremely low light it will push sensitivity one more step and switch to a black and white view to provide an image in almost completely dark situations.
A diagram indicating all possible LCD monitor (or EVF) information overlay is shown below.
|a. Flash mode indicators||o. Camera sensitivity (ISO) display|
|b. Flash signals||p. Manual focus indicator|
|c. Mode indicator||q. Focus signals|
|d. Flash compensation display||r. Frame counter|
|e. Sharpness display||s. Drive mode indicators|
|f. Contrast compensation display||t. Macro mode indicator|
|g. Color saturation compensation display||u. Battery condition indicator|
|h. Exposure compensation display||v. Image quality indicator|
|i. White balance indicators||w. Image size indicator|
|j. Exposure mode/ Digital subject program indicators||x. Digital zoom (Electronic magnification) indicator|
|k. Metering mode indicators||1. Focus frame|
|l. Shutter speed display||2. Spot metering area|
|m. Aperture display||3. AF sensors|
|n. Camera shake warning||4. Flex Focus Point|
Diagram reproduced from the DiMAGE 7 manual.
|Christine by JP Zanotti|
from Car wreck
|Fangorn Forest by cand1d|
|Yosemite Falls with Moonbow by Jonathan Shapiro|
from Best Landscape of the Week 4
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more
Sony's newest G Master telephoto zoom, announced alongside the a9, is the first of the company's FE lenses to reach 400mm natively. We had one in California and photographed horses, portraits, and landscapes - check out how it did. Read more
Garmin has entered the 360-camera market with the VIRB, which captures 5.7K video at 30p as well as 15MP stills. Read more
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more
With a claimed 800 new custom parts, Microsoft's updated Surface Pro comes with the latest Kaby Lake processors, better battery life, a new hinge, plus the Surface Pen is updated as well. Read more
DW Photo is attempting to resurrect the Hy6 medium format camera, though the legal tangles of its development may stop it being branded Rolleiflex.
The Kodak EKTRA, the company's 'camera first' smartphone, is now available to purchase in the United States. Read more
Apple and Nokia have settled their years-old patent dispute. Apple will make an undisclosed payment to Nokia and sign a licensing agreement related to digital health products with the Finnish company.
David Gibson, one of Britain's best known street shooters, shares all.
Photographers from the SKYGLOW project travelled 150k miles and took 3 million photos in increasingly rare locations: those without light pollution.
The world's fastest 200mm was produced for 16 years. In that time, only 8000 were made.