Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D

Konica Minolta, as well as other camera makers, has entered the market of the digital reflex cameras with the new 6 megapixel Dynax 7D, a competitor of Canon 20D, Nikon D70, Fujifilm S3 Pro and Olympus E-1.

It’s the first digital reflex made by Konica Minolta after five years (the previous RD3000 was launched in the year 2000).

The Dynax 7D is based on the Dynax 7 body, maintaining the ergonomics of the film version with improvements and solutions specifically designed for the digital version.

The Dynax 7D is the digital solution by Konica Minolta designed to address the needs of the aficionados who already own a wide range of lenses from the same manufacturer and are not willing to stay bound to the world of the film photography. The semi-professional film camera Dynax 7 has been chosen as a reference product to start with.

The Dynax 7D is the first reflex camera with the innovative anti-shake system bases on the sensor movement. The 6,1 million pixel CCD (made by Sony), thanks to the Anti-Shake system, compensates for the vibrations caused by the photographer, allowing a shutter speed up to three times slower compared to normal, with no risk of shakes.

With this exclusive technology, the possibility of using virtually all lenses compatible with the byonet-coupling Dynax AF is now possible. Also wide lenses can take advantage from the anti-shake system, even if they are not equipped with complex optical anti-ahake mechanisms.

The camera is equipped with a wide 2,5” back display for an instant playback, for browsing menus, and display of all informations abuot the main settings of the camera.

The Dynax 7D uses the new CxProcess III technology that generates high definition images with natural effects. The new LSI processor gives a high operative speed and a quick image handling, thus allowing a shorter waiting time lag.

Compared to the former Minolta RD3000, the Dynax 7D maintains a smart design and clever ergonomics, that matches every lever and cursor to a unique function. The comfortable optical viewfinder is large and bright.

The Dynax 7D is the first digital reflex camera made by Konica Minolta during the last five years. Giant steps have been made from the 2000 RD3000 with its 3 Mpixels (two chips with 1,5 million pixels each). The RD3000, through a mirrors system, splitted the image caught by the lens and sent it to the sensors. The two halves of the frame were then put together by a software inside the camera.

The Dynax 7D is a semi-professional digital reflex camera, addressing both amateurs and professionals. With a list price in Europe of about 1,600 euros, this camera is in line with its competitors, namely the Canon EOS 20D, the Nikon D70, the Olympus E-1, and the Fujifilm S3 Pro.

No doubt, the strength point of the Dynax is the innovative and unmatched anti-shake system; nevertheless, its competitors have other aces up their sleeves: Canon has a higher resolution ( 8 MP), Nikon the best price (1,000 euros), Fujifilm the sensor with extended exposure latitude (Super CCD), and Olympus the four thirds system and the ultrasound cleaning system for the sensor.

Design & Ergonomics

Squared and bulky, the Konica Minolta gives the impression of robustness. Its chassis is made of magnesium alloy with polycarbonate and rubber inserts where a good grip is crucial.

The elegant black finishing and the many buttons and levers on its body give the impression of a true professional body, where each control matches only one function. Its body is so well designed that it doesn’t take long to become acquainted with setting menus, and everything is at hand.

Size and weight

Recently we have become used to cameras smaller and smaller in size, and ever lighter. This is a good trend, as a compact and light equipment can be carried about easily, but in the specific case of cameras a dimensional limit exists beyond which handling becomes difficult and uncomfortable. This is not the case as far as the Dynax 7D is concerned: with its 760 grams weight and its generous size (150x106x78 mm), it offers a good grip and a feeling of robustness.

Ergonomics

The camera can be handled pretty well, and all the controls are positioned correctly. The wide groove in the handle makes the grip easy, with the index placed correctly on the shutter button, and the thumb at the right distance from the back controls. The handling has an anti-slip rubber coating as well as the thumb resting area on the back.

The camera is well balanced, even if its considerable weight makes it necessary to use the left hand to hold up the lens.

Competitors

The Dynax 7D is one of the biggest of the group, except the Fujifilm S3, that comes with a vertical built-in handling. In our view, as mentioned above, this camera fits well to those who have medium size hands.

Viewfinder

The viewfinder of the Dynax 7D is probably the largest and brightest of its category.

All the most important information are displayed on it (but ISO sensitivity is not shown), including the indicator of th anti-shake mechanism, which nonetheless is of no immediate interpretation. A led system placed vertically on the right side of the viewfinder indicates if the stabilizer is working properly and the intensity of it.

In the viewfinder are visible nine focus areas, of which the active one is highlighted in red. Areas are a bit too small and difficult to be seen.
The viewfinder is fitted with a rubber ocular shell making its use comfortable, particularly to those who wear spectacles. A dioptric control is also provided.

Underneath the viewfinder two proximity sensors switch off the back display when an eye gets close. A very clever solution.

LCD monitor

The wide 2,5” and 207,000 pixels LCD monitor dominates the back of the camera. The display is clear even in direct sun, and allows image preview, as well as view of the information on the photos taken and access to menus.

The Dynax 7D has no additional LCD panel for shooting mode, so the rear display is also used to show the main settings of the camera: you can view data such as format, shutter speed and aperture, ISO sensitivity, exposure compensation, residual charge, white balance, color profile, exposure meter mode, type of autofocus, and the remaining exposures.

In our view, a separate LCD panel to display this kind of information would be a better solution, and the rear LCD is more demanding in terms of power.

Built-in Flash

The built-in flash has a 12 guide number (with 100 ISO) and is manually switched on. Maximum covering width is for 24 mm lenses. Flash synchronization can be set up to 1/160 sec with the anti-shake off, and up to 1/125 sec when the anti-shake is on. Red eye reduction mode, synchronization with the second focal plane shutter, with quick shutter speeds, and fill-in functions are available.

The built-in flash is also an assistant for the focusing when light is scarce, emitting an annoying stroboscopic light.

External Flash

A skid for external flash is on top of the camera, hidden by a small plastic lid. Mounting is dedicated, so it’s not compatible with a third party flash. Through the ADI, several flashes can be synchronized remotely in wireless mode.

Right selector + white balance

The main selector allows the choice of the favorite exposure mode. The classic modes of aperture and shutterspeed priority, manual, program and custom program are available. Three further programmable settings allow the user to switch from a shooting mode to another when these are already known.

The selector has an anti-skid rubber coating for a better grip, and can be operated only if the upper unlock button is kept down.
Opposite to the main selector, a dial allows the choice of single and continuous shot with automatic variations (by a sort of automatic bracketing), single and continuous shot, and self with a 10 and 2-seconds delay. The latter mode serves as a pre-lifting of the mirror when shootings are made with the camera mounted on a tripod.

White balance is set through the selector positioned aside the main ring selector. The available settings are automatic, custom, manual, and Kelvin degrees. To access the settings mode, you just have to push the button over the selector, and the various options are shown on the display.

Left dial

On the left side a dial for exposure compensation is placed. The yellow scale allows a compensation in fractions of thirds of a stop, whereas the white one in fractions of half a stop. The upper unlock button must be pushed in order to operate the dial, but, once turned, values can be adjusted without further unlocking. This dial too is coated with anti-skid rubber to make the grip easier. In line with the selector, there is a control for the compensation of the flash exposure (+/- 2 stops).

Back

The back of the Dynax 7D looks a bit crowded with buttons and levers.

On the right side, the dial to select the shutter speed (also for menu browsing), the manual focus button including the focus lock, and the exposure lock button in line with the expose mode dial. Spot, center-weighted and 14-segment honeycomb pattern.

In a lower position a dial for the selection of the focusing point also allows browsing through images and information in playback mode. The selector in line with the dial allows the focus area to be set in manual, automatic or locked in a predefined point mode.

Three settings can be stored through the MSET button and recalled by the main selector on the top of the camera.

The ISO button allows the access to a screen display for the selection of sensitivity.
The lowest lever on the right triggers the anti-shake mechanism.

The buttons on the left of the display operates the electronic part of the camera. The relevant functions are menu and display’s visualization, erasing, magnification.

The On/off lever is placed over these buttons and on viewfinder side. If it was on the right side of the camera, there would be no need to use two hands.

Lens unlock and focus

Underneath the lens unlock button there is a selector for focus mode. The user can choose: single shot AF, auto AF, continuous AF, and manual focusing. In auto AF mode, the camera automatically shifts between single and continuous shot depending on the subject movements.

Depth of field control

On the left side of the lens, there is a control button for the depth of view. Its position is not optimal for the medium size hands because it should be operated by the little finger.

Tripod

The bottom part of the Dynax 7D is coated with a layer of antishock rubber; in the middle of it there is a screwed connection for the tripod, which is in line with the middle of the lens mounting.

Battery

The 1500 mAh lithium-ion NP-400 battery allows up to 400 shots, provided the use of the display and the anti-shock mechanism is limited to real needs. The battery compartment is placed in the bottom of the camera and the battery itself is held by a safety clip.

Connections

On the left side, the syncro flash socket and the power socket are hidden by small rubber lids, whereas the one for the remote control is placed behind a little door.

Memory Card

La Dynax 7D supports type I and II CompactFlash memory cards; the slot is located in the hand grip behind a door with no safe lock. The same door hides the USB 2.0 port that is also a Video Out.

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Technical Highlights

The sensor

The Dynax 7D embodies the same CCD as the Nikon D100, the Pentax *istD, and the Epson RD-1 and is manufactured by Sony.

The chip size is 23,5×15,7 mm, the total resolution is 6,31 million pixel (6,1 effective). Images at the highest resolution are 3008×2000 pixel in size, but smaller formats can be selected (2256×1496 and 1504×1000).

Anti-shake

The revolutionary anti-shake system of the Dynax 7D shifts the sensor to compensate for the vibrations caused by involuntary movements of the photographer.

According to the results of our test, it is possible to shoot with shutter speeds a couple of stops shorter than usually recommended to avoid shakes.

The advantage of a floating sensor is that the antishake is applied to all the lenses employed, including wide lenses, usually devoid of this technology.

On the right side of the viewfinder a row of leds indicates the degree of stability. A greater number of leds shown indicates a higher stability of the image.

The image in the viewfinder is not affected by the compensation od vibrations, as it happens in lenses with internal mechanisms, therefore the user must rely on the indications given on the scale.

Remember that the anti-shake mechanism must be deactivated when the camera is mounted on a tripod.

Color Space

A selection can be made among three colour profile to incorporate in the image:
Natural: The sRGB profile is incorporated.
Natural+: The sRGB profile is incorporated increasing contrast and vividness.
Embed Adobe RGB: The Adobe RGB profile, having a wider gamut, is incorporated.

Digital effects

Contrast, saturation, sharpness, and colour hue can be modified by means of the digital effects control.

Custom Function

This menu includes 19 customizable functions relating to personal settings of the camera.

Sensor cleaning

The menu includes a mirror lock function to be activated during the sensor cleaning. At the end of the operation the camera should be switched off. Cleaning can be performed by using both the power cable and the battery (if fully charged).

Histograms and lights

Instant playback is available full screen, with image only, or image with histogram and blinking highlights. blinking highlights. Under-exposed areas of the image are also shown through blinking.

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