Minolta DiMAGE 7i Review
Features & Controls
Perhaps the most impressive and noticeable feature of the DiMAGE 7i is the big 7x Minolta GT zoom lens. It's comprised of 16 elements in 13 groups, including two AD glass elements and two aspheric surfaces. The 7.2mm - 50.8mm (28mm - 200mm in 35mm format), f/2.8-f/3.5 APO lens has an autofocus range of 1.6 feet to infinity in normal mode. It can be set for wide angle macro with a range of 1.0 - 2.0 feet or telephoto macro which has a range of 0.8 - 2.0 feet.
The DiMAGE 7i features a wide-area AF system with Flex Focus Point which changes the
extra-wide focus to a cross-hair spot focus point that can be moved to anywhere desired
within the image frame. The autofocus is on the DiMAGE 7i is twice as fast as that
of the original DiMAGE 7.
Just like a 35mm SLR, the zoom lens is controlled manually by turning a rubberized ring on the barrel. This gives the user total control over the focal length selected and also saves precious battery power. Focus can adjusted manually via a ring near the base of the lens for those times when the photographer wishes to be in complete control.
Filters and add-on lenses can be attached with the 49mm threads
provided on the end of the lens. The included lens shade attaches via a bayonet type mount.
The Digital Hyper Viewfinder provides a true through-the-lens view of exactly what the lens is seeing. The shielded EVF gives you a clear view even under bright light using a reflective color LCD with a resolution equivalent to 220,000 pixels. The variable position viewfinder can be tilted upwards to a maximum of 90 degrees. In low-light situations the EVF amplifies the video signal so you can properly frame the shot. The display goes black & white but the image is captured in full color.
Whatever you see on the color LCD can also be viewed on the EVF by simply flipping the
display control switch. The Auto-EVF setting will automatically switch the signal from
the LCD to the EVF when you put it up to your eye. To save power the EVF only comes on
when your eye is up to the viewfinder. It has a diopter adjustment (-5.0 to +0.5) and a
large rubber eyecup that works even when wearing eyeglasses.
The builtin pop-up flash offers Fill-flash, Red-eye reduction and Rear flash sync,
it recycles in approximately 7 seconds. The DiMAGE 7i features ADI (Advanced
Distance Integration) flash exposure or you can select the Pre-flash TTL mode. The
flash range in Wideangle is approximately 1.6 - 12.5 feet (0.5-3.8m), in Telephoto
it's approximately 1.6 - 9.8 feet (0.5-3m) with camera sensitivity set to auto.
Using the dedicated hot shoe flash connector you can attach the powerful Minolta Program Flash 5600 HS or Program Flash 3600 HS which offer versatile functions such as auto power zoom, wireless/remote off-camera flash, and test flash. The Macro Twin Flash 2400 provides flexible lighting for nature macro photography while the Macro Ring Flash 1200 offers shadowless lighting, ideal for medical and scientific use.
The D7i now features Wireless/Remote flash when used with the 5600HS(D) or 3600HS(D) external flash units. The camera can fire these flash units without the need of a cable as long as they are in "line of sight" to the camera. Single or multiple flash units can be placed around the subject to create different lighting effects. The camera can be set to a specific wireless trigger channel (1-4) in the menu.
Minolta has an optional flash adapter (PCT-100) that allows the Dimage 7i to be
connected to other flash equipment via a voltage isolated standard PC sync port.
The DiMAGE 7i's main functions are controlled by the Function Dial located on the left side. You turn the knob to the option you wish to change and then push and hold the button while rotating the Control Dial. When you have the value you want you just release the button.
METERING - Select metering mode (matrix, center-weighted or spot)
PASM - Exposure mode (Program AE, Aperture priority, Shutter speed priority, Manual)
DRIVE - Change drive mode (Single, Continuous (2fps), Ultra High Speed Continuous (7fps), Self-timer, AE Bracketing)
WB - White balance (Auto, Daylight, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Custom)
ISO - Sensitivity (Auto [100-400], 100, 200, 400, 800 ISO equivalent)
The Mode Dial turns the camera on and off, selects Record, Play, Movie, Setup or
Connect to PC modes. It has a very positive locking button to prevent it from being
turned accidentally. Out on the front is the shutter release and the Control Dial.
Across the top of
the data LCD are the Digital Subject Program modes for portrait, sports, sunset,
night portrait and text, these are selected by pressing the silver
button. The big "P" (pro-auto) button returns you to Program AE mode and resets
all settings to default with a single push.
The data LCD lights up for about 5 seconds whenever the shutter release is pressed.
Data LCD with all possible elements displayed.
The controls on the rear include the EVF/LCD switch with the Information control button
in the center. Over on the right is the Spot button which can perform as AF-AE lock,
AE-AE toggle, AE lock or AE toggle via menu settings.
The MENU button calls
up the onscreen menus and the large 4-way selector switch lets you easily navigate menu
options and select them by pressing the center button. Below that is the QuickView
button that lets you instantly review the last picture captured. It also serves as the
image delete button. On the bottom is the Magnify button which enables the digital
zoom or enlarged view for focusing, it also magnifies the image during playback.
Located on the left side is the EFFECT selector switch that lets you adjust the image
contrast, color, saturation and exposure (and flash) compensation. Like the Function
Dial, you select an option and then push and hold the button while turning the Command
Dial (except flash compensation which requires the use of the up and down portion of
the 4-way controller.) Next to that is the Auto / Manual Focus selector button.
Across the back of the camera are the I/O ports for the optional AC power adapter, the Audio & Video Out port with selectable NTSC or PAL format. And a connector for the optional RC-1000S/L wired remote code that permits tripping the shutter from up to 16.4 feet away.
At the bottom of the CompactFlash card access area is the USB data port.
The DiMAGE 7i is equipped with a CompactFlash Type II card slot and is Microdrive compatible (340MB, 512MB and 1GB). The camera ships with a rather whimpy 16MB CF card. Thankfully there are BIG cards like the SanDisk 1GB or the 1GB Microdrive available now as these 5-megapixel cameras can really pack the megabytes away.
The camera is powered by four AA type batteries, high-capacity NiMH type is highly recommended and Minolta supplies them. The DiMAGE 7i is shipping with a set of the 1850mAH Sanyo NiMH rechargeables and a compact rapid charger. The battery access is underneath of the color LCD on the back of the camera.
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