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Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D Digital SLR Camera

Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
Photograph: Rick Rizner

Although many of the digital SLRs that we tested have a plentiful supply of buttons, the Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D has the most: 24 dials and buttons spread around the camera. But this approach has a big upside: It makes the controls much easier to get to. For instance, on many cameras you have to use an LCD-screen menu to access the exposure or flash compensation settings, but the Minolta 7D puts these controls on two dials on the left side of the camera body. Likewise, additional controls--a button for switching between autofocus and manual focus, a dial for changing metering modes, and a dial for selecting the white balance mode--enable you to make further adjustments with your thumb without taking your finger off the shutter button, or your eye from the viewfinder.

You can assign custom settings to three positions on the exposure mode dial, so you can switch between them quickly. Other cameras allow you to save settings, but you usually have to go into an on-screen menu to access them; putting them on the exposure mode dial makes them much easier to access.

In our tests, the Maxxum 7D produced images with accurate and bright colors when using a custom white balance and manually adjusted exposure setting, and its test shot taken with the built-in flash scored very high. However, the indoor test shot taken without flash scored lower than those of most other SLRs we tested. All the 7D's images looked a little soft. Only the Pentax *ist DS scored lower on sharpness. However, although the 7D began to show noise when we increased the ISO to its maximum of 1600, this noise was much less noticeable than what many other cameras produced, visible only as a mild mottled pattern in areas of flat color.

The 7D is the only digital SLR body we've seen that has built-in antishake technology, which lets the camera compensate for minor movements while you're taking a picture. Some high-end lenses for other cameras include optical stabilization (where an element inside the lens moves); the 7D instead moves the CCD sensor into the camera body to compensate for movement. We found the feature to be reasonably effective: Although it can't compensate for major movements, it did overcome the slight blurring that can be caused by shaky hands or long lenses. It was less effective in low-light situations that require a longer exposure. A visual indicator shows up in the viewfinder when the camera thinks that antishaking won't work. The auto ISO feature (where the camera picks the most appropriate ISO setting) is also unique. Again, we found it to be reasonably effective at picking an appropriate speed for most situations.

A good selection of lenses is available for the camera. However, the range is not as wide as what's available for Canon or Nikon cameras (or for the Fujifilm Finepix S2 Pro, which uses Nikon lenses). The $1590 kit we looked at included a 28mm to 100mm lens, but you can buy the body alone for $1499. The camera is powered by a single 1500-milliampere-hour rechargeable battery, which lasted for 278 shots taken over a period of roughly 2.5 hours. That's probably enough for a good day's shooting but it's significantly less than other SLRs we've tested; all other models reviewed this month reached our testing cutoff of 500 shots. A spare battery costs $45 and is probably a wise investment.

We liked the large 2.5-inch LCD monitor on the 7D: It was the biggest and brightest of the tested cameras and made previewing the pictures easy. There is no display on the top of the camera: Information such as the shutter speed and aperture setting is shown on the LCD instead. One nice touch: the f readout automatically rotates when you are shooting in portrait mode, making it easier to read.

The Minolta 7D offers a profusion of manual controls and an innovative antishake feature, but its image quality was subpar.

Richard Baguley

This story, "Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D Digital SLR Camera

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