Minolta DiMAGE 7 Review
Full review posted 7/16/01
Click on the DiMAGE 7 to take a QuickTime VR tour
The DiMAGE 7 and DiMAGE 5 SLR-type digital cameras feature Minolta's new technological developments designed to provide high-quality images as well as a wide array of digital functions for creative photography. Many advanced features that were found only on high-end professional digicams are now offered at more affordable prices. The DiMAGE 7 with its high-resolution, 5.24 million pixel, 2/3-inch CCD is available now.
These cameras also share the same all-glass 7x optical zoom Minolta GT lens. This 7.2mm - 50.8mm, f/2.8-f/3.5 APO lens uses anomalous dispersion (AD) glass and aspheric elements to provide sharp, bright images at all focal lengths. The DiMAGE 7's focal length equivalent (in 35mm photography) is 28mm - 200mm and on the DiMAGE 5 it's equivalent to a 35mm - 250mm lens. Both cameras also feature a One-Touch 2x digital zoom to significantly increase the zooming range and Super Macro capability, allowing close-up photography of subjects as near as 5 inches from the lens.
The DiMAGE 7 features Minolta's proprietary CxProcess, a new image processing technology that provides clear and natural images. In image processing, too much emphasis on natural color produces flat color pictures. Overemphasizing the color range creates an unnatural color scheme. CxProcess balances both extremes by controlling sharpness, color reproduction, tonal gradation and noise to optimize results.
The 12-bit A/D conversion provides a finer tonal gradation, with deep shadows, brilliant highlights and millions of colors, up to 4,096 levels in each RGB channel. Minolta's 12-bit A/D conversion provides exquisite details in portraiture: smooth complexion, rich shadows, and luminous highlights, as opposed to the standard 10-bit A/D conversion with its limited 1,024 levels per RGB channel.
The Digital Hyper Viewfinder provides photographers with clear images, even under bright light. With its reflective ferroelectric Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) viewfinder and a visual resolution equivalent to almost 220,000 pixels, it's the first time such a sophisticated optical device has been used on a high-resolution consumer SLR-type digital camera. The variable position viewfinder can be tilted up to 90 degrees for added flexibility and creativity in shooting. The Digital Hyper Viewfinder allows the photographer to simultaneously monitor the image and camera settings. And in low-light situations the viewfinder signal is amplified so you won't miss any important shots.
The DiMAGE 7's 4x Electronic Magnification can enlarge the central area of the image in the viewfinder during manual focusing - an important feature when image sharpness is critical, especially with close-up photography.
The photographer can control image quality before the image is written to the CompactFlash card easily with the Digital Effects Control. It can control exposure, contrast and color saturation in the camera and then be viewed immediately on the Digital Hyper Viewfinder.
Using an extra-wide focus area, the cross-hair autofocus (AF) sensor in the center accurately determines subject distance, regardless of horizontal or vertical subject contrast. With Minolta's new Flex Focus Point, a simple press of a button can change the extra-wide focus to a cross-hair spot focus point that can be moved to anywhere within the image. The Flex Focus Point can be used for subjects at the edge of the frame or for singling out a specific subject from a number of objects at varying distances. With very shallow depth-of-field, the Flex Focus Point can eliminate focusing errors with off-centered subjects. The camera does not need to be moved to use the focus-lock function and then recomposed.
The responsive autofocus is a result of a high-speed Large Scale Integration (LSI) chip that rapidly processes image data and signals. The LSI chip incorporates a high-speed 32-bit RISC CPU and is connected to a large capacity SDRAM through a 32-bit data bus. Photographers can also choose between Single-shot AF and Continuous AF.
There are three exposure-metering modes: multi-segment, center-weighted and spot. The multi-segment metering technology in the cameras uses both light values and color information to accurately calculate the exposure. The DiMAGE 7 has 300 segments in the multi-segment metering, and the DiMAGE 5 uses 256 segments. With emphasis on the main subject, the luminance patterns on the CCD and AF information are used to accurately calculate the exposure.
The camera's controls are optimally laid out for ease of use. Frequently used functions are placed in a simple, function-dial system. The Digital Hyper Viewfinder and the LCD monitor offer a graphic-user interface with a full array of shooting information. The pro-auto button allows users to easily reset the camera to fully-automatic operation. The eyepiece sensors detect if the Digital Hyper Viewfinder is being used, and switch the display between the viewfinder and the monitor accordingly.
During playback mode, a histogram of the captured image can be displayed on the LCD, as well as single-frame, index or movie playback. Menus on the LCD are large and clear with superb visibility to input and confirm settings.
Under the stylish metal exterior is a solid alloy frame
DiMAGE 7 Major Features:
The DiMAGE Image Viewer Utility Software can display raw image data and allows for corrections and manipulations using built- in functions. The raw data is processed with a 16-bit color depth so that the fine tonal gradations are preserved. Based on the user-friendly graphic interface of Minolta's film scanner driver software, photographers can change tone curve/histogram, brightness/contrast/color pallet, hue/saturation/lightness, and sharpness of the raw data and save the image as a 16-bit TIFF. JPEG and TIFF images can also be viewed and corrected. The Color Correction Job function saves correction settings so they may be applied to different images. In addition, the Variation function allows photographers to choose the best image from a series of automatically bracketed corrections. The unique sharpness correction method is easy and effective. The color matching is compatible with most color spaces for accurate color reproduction with the ICC profiles.
Both cameras are supported by Epson's latest PRINT Image Matching technology which ensures that Minolta's digital cameras and Epson's printers work together perfectly to produce photographs that print truer-to-life than ever before.
The DiMAGE 7 is one of those cameras that looks bigger in the pictures but is actually very compact. Shown here compared to the Nikon Coolpix 995 and the pocket-sized Fujifilm FinePix 6800 Zoom and Canon PowerShot S110 cameras.
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DiMAGE 7 Specifications
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