This section of the review has been moved here because it was based on a pre-production DSC-F707 (but some of it is still valid).

Compared to the Minolta DiMAGE 7

As only the DSC-F707 is only the second 5 megapixel digital camera on the market there's really only one other camera we can compare it to, Minolta's DiMAGE 7. Both cameras use the Sony 2/3" 5.24 megapixel CCD, both cameras have large zoom lenses (though the DiMAGE 7 has 28 mm wide angle). The most significant differences are in the actual camera design, storage media and price.

Feature comparison

In the comparison chart below I have highlighted any feature / detail which I see as an advantage / improvement. Other features which are different but may be more of a personal choice (or marketing hype) have been left for you to decide which you feel is more important to you.

  Sony DSC-F707 Minolta DiMAGE 7
Street price US$ 999 US$ 1399
Case Magnesium Alloy Magnesium Alloy / Plastic
Body design Split lens / body & LCD Fixed 'compact camera' type
CCD 2/3" 5.24 megapixel, RGB CFA 2/3" 5.24 megapixel, RGB CFA
A/D converter 14 bit 12 bit
Resolutions 2560 x 1920, 2560 x 1712 (3:2), 2048 x 1536, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480 2560 x 1920, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480
Image formats TIFF, JPEG RAW, TIFF, JPEG
Lens 5x optical (38 - 190 mm) 7x optical (28 - 200 mm)
Lens max aperture F2.0 - F2.4 F2.8 - F3.5
Zoom type Electro-mechanical (dual speed) Mechanically linked
AF Assist Lamp Yes, Hologram AF (laser) None
AF modes Contrast detect (wide area) Contrast detect (3 area), Spot AF
Lens thread 58 mm 49 mm
Manual focus Focus-by-wire ring Focus-by-wire ring
Manual focus zoom Yes, 2x Yes, 4x
ISO sensitivity Auto, 100, 200, 400 Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800
Metering Multi-Segment, Center-weighted, Spot Multi-Segment, Center-weighted, Spot
AE Lock Yes, button Yes, button
AE Bracketing Yes, 3 images Yes, 3 images
Shutter speed 30 - 1/1000 sec Bulb, 4 - 1/2000 sec
Shutter priority 46 shutter speeds 27 shutter speeds
Aperture priority 13 apertures 7 apertures
Noise reduction Yes (2.5 seconds or slower) No
White Balance Auto, Indoor, Outdoor, Manual Auto, Daylight, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Manual
Picture controls Sharpness Contrast, Colour, Sharpness
Continuous 2.8 fps for 3 images 1.2 fps for 5 images
Movie clips 320 x 240, 160 x 120, unlimited with audio 320 x 240, 60 secs max, no audio
Self timer Yes Yes
Timelapse No Yes
Remote control Yes, optional Yes, optional
Flash Pop-up (automatic) Pop-up (manual)
External flash Sony flash via ACC connect & shoe Minolta flash via hot-shoe
Storage media Memory Stick Compact Flash Type I & II
Supplied storage 16 MB Memory Stick 16 MB Compact Flash card
Viewfinder EVF 180,000 pixels EVF 71,000 pixels
LCD 1.8" 123,000 pixels 1.8" 112,000 pixels
Connectivity USB, A/V out USB, Video out
Power Lithium-Ion Batt & Charger 4 x AA batteries (NiMH recommended)
Print compliance DPOF, Print Image Matching DPOF, Print Image Matching
Weight (inc. batt) 667 (1.5 lb) 603 g (1.3 lb)
Dimensions 120 x 67 x 148 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 5.8 in)

117 x 91 x 113 mm
(4.6 x 3.6 x 4.4 in)

Startup time ~ 4.0 sec ~ 4.0 sec
Battery life 4 hr 20 mins 1 hr 14 mins
Colour space sRGB (approx.) Proprietary (can be converted to sRGB, Adobe RGB etc.)

A quick glance through the features shows us that both cameras are well equipped in slightly different ways. Considering the price difference the F707 is certainly looking like the more attractive choice.

Note: Comparison shots below were made with a pre-production Sony DSC-F707, a production comparison can be found here. (In the comparison below the major difference with a production camera would be the removal of the visible green cast).

Outdoor landscape comparison

The scene below was shot from a tripod with both cameras literally seconds apart. Both cameras were set to ISO 100, aperture F8.0 and automatic white balance. Scene was shot at a variety of similar focal lengths and the best two matches selected.

Sony DSC-F707 (pre-production) Minolta DiMAGE 7 (v021e)
ISO 100, F8.0, 1/500 sec, JPEG FINE
Straight from camera
ISO 100, F8.0, 1/750 sec, JPEG FINE
Converted to sRGB
Sony DSC-F707 Minolta DiMAGE 7 (v021e)

First off I'd better make it clear that the DiMAGE 7 shot has been run through the Minolta Image Viewer application to convert it to the sRGB colour space, this is something we discovered during its review as a requirement for optimum colour. You can download the original (unconverted) image here (2,263 KB).

Overall the balance (tone) of the images is quite similar, looking at white balance it's clear that the F707 was just slightly closer to the mark, the DiMAGE 7 shot looking a little 'warmer'. The F707 seems to handle highlights a little better too, showing a more gradual stepping before overexposure than the DiMAGE 7. Colour wise the F707 shows more vivid colours (though maybe a little too strong).

Resolution appears similar at first, though scanning over the image as a whole I'd have to give the F707 the edge, less effected by noise and a lens that seems to be a little sharper it's managing to resolve those few additional pixels which can make the difference between a smooth angular transition and 'blockiness'.

Noise crop (broken down into red, green and blue components)

Sony DSC-F707 Minolta DiMAGE 7 (v021e)
ISO 100, F8.0, 1/500 sec
Straight from camera
ISO 100, F8.0, 1/750 sec
Converted to sRGB
Full Colour RGB (below)
Red Channel (below)
Green Channel (below)
Blue Channel (below)

Breaking the image down to its RGB components it's easier to see noise. The F707 definitely seems to have noise under control (thanks to its 'Clear Colour Noise Reduction'), there's the very slightest hint of some in the red channel crop but certainly not as much as is visible in the DiMAGE 7 crop. Keeping the noise levels low also leaves the F707's images looking sharper and smoother and enhances the cameras ability to resolve detail.