Konica Minolta Dynax 7D
In this review we’ll cover aspects of the Konica Minolta Dynax 7D that were not reported on in our ‘First Look’ in the last issue, and look at how well the camera performed in our standard suite of tests. Our tests were carried out on a production model supplied with two lenses: the new AF 17 – 35mm f2.8 – 4(D) and the AF 70 – 210mm f4.5 – 5.6 II. Changing from one lens to the other highlighted the snug fit of the lenses; you have to be spot on to engage the lens mount with the 7D’s body. . . [more]
Quality rating (out of 10)
Ease of use: 8.5
Image quality: 9.0
Storage capacity with supplied card: No card supplied
Value for money: 8.0
Bundled ‘goodies’: 8.5
Image transfer ease: 8.5
In this review we’ll cover aspects of the Konica Minolta Dynax 7D that were not reported on in our ‘First Look’ in the last issue, and look at how well the camera performed in our standard suite of tests. Our tests were carried out on a production model supplied with two lenses: the new AF 17 – 35mm f2.8 – 4(D) and the AF 70 – 210mm f4.5 – 5.6 II. Changing from one lens to the other highlighted the snug fit of the lenses; you have to be spot on to engage the lens mount with the 7D’s body.
On test, the ‘Anti-Shake’ mechanism was effective with both lenses across a wide range of shooting situations. On average we feel it extended the overall range for hand-holding the camera by roughly two stops for an average photographer – and maybe even more in some situations. However, whereas photographers can see the effect of the stabilisation in cameras with stabilised lenses, Dynax 7D photographers can only monitor the AS mechanism by checking the five-step bar graph on the right hand side in the viewfinder, which shows how hard it is being forced to work. A warning is displayed in the viewfinder if the AS is switched off and camera shake is likely.
In our tests we found that as long as only three bars were lit, the AS was able to counteract any camera shake. When four or five bars were lit, the AS was reaching its compensation limit and some shots were slightly unsharp. As a tool, this bar graph is very useful, once you calibrate the display to your own shooting practices and experience. It provides a good indication of whether you’re working within the system’s parameters or pushing it beyond its limits.
The bars also indicate the potential drain on the camera’s battery, because the system relies upon battery power to move the CCD array. Fortunately, we found a single charge covered the entire suite of tests we performed so, although we suspect constant use of AS could reduce the number of shots you can take, it won’t do so by much.
Power consumption is more likely to be increased by the fact that activating the camera lights up the rear LCD, displaying details of battery condition, ISO setting, colour space aperture and shutter speed, frames remaining, and a few other items. We found this particularly inconvenient for night shooting as it ruins your night vision. (The display turns off automatically after a few seconds or when you put your eye to the viewfinder.) On other DSLRs, a top-panel LCD makes shooting data always visible at low intensity and you can brighten it when you wish, which is more convenient for night photography.
Overall, we found little to fault with the test camera’s image quality. Images were generally pleasing to look at and colour reproduction was very good, although the default saturation level may be slightly low for some photographers’ tastes. The default sharpness setting was also slightly soft and the contrast setting was modest, resulting in very clean images with a wide dynamic range and natural-looking hues and tonal distribution. Although photographers can modify the contrast, hue, saturation and sharpness settings in-camera via the Digital FX menu, most will choose to make these adjustments with the supplied DiMAGE Viewer software (the same software is bundled with the DiMAGE A200).
Unfortunately, we found some downsides to the Dynax 7D. The wide area AF was slightly too wide and produced out-of-focus pictures in some situations (spot AF performed better overall). The metering system tended towards slight (0.3 stops) underexposure in daylight conditions. The test camera’s flash was pretty feeble and only illuminated an average-sized room with the ISO 400 setting. With flash sync at only 1/125 second with Anti Shake enabled, and 1/160 with it switched off, use of fill flash was limited in bright conditions. When shooting after dark, long exposure noise reduction added further softening without visibly improving noise levels. However, noise reduction can often be dispensed with. Image noise was pleasingly low right up to ISO 400 and only obvious at ISO 1600.
The Dynax 7D is a true photographer’s camera and, as such, has high appeal for enthusiasts with a suite of Minolta lenses. Sadly, in the current market its size, weight and relatively high price tag could deter some new camera buyers. 
Image sensor: 23.5 x 15.7 mm interline primary colour/interlace scan CCD with 6,300,000 photosites (6.1 megapixels effective)
Lens: Minolta A-type bayonet mount
Lens multiplier factor: 1.5x
Image file formats: JPEG, RAW, RAW+JPEG
Shutter speed range: 30-1/4000 second plus Bulb; flash sync at 1/160s (Anti-shake off) or 1.125s (Anti-shake on)
Storage Media: Compact Flash Type I or Type II standard, Microdrive; 1 slot
Interface: USB 2.0 High-Speed; Video output (NTSC/PAL)
Body dimensions (wxhxd): 150 x 106 x 77.5 mm
Weight (body only): 760 grams (without batteries and card)
Focus system: TTL phase-detection AF using CCD line sensors (9 points, 8 lines with centre cross-hair sensor); focus area selectable
Exposure metering/control: TTL metering using 14-segment honeycomb-pattern SPC
White balance: Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten,
Fluorescent, Flash, Custom; Colour temperature setting available
Flash modes/GN: Pop-up flash in the pentaprism with +/”“ 2 EV adjustment in 1/2 increments; GN 12 (m/ISO 100)
ISO range: Auto, ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200
Sequence shooting: 9 RAW images or up to 43 JPEG shots at 3 frames/second
Viewfinder: Eye-level fixed pentaprism (approx 95% field of view); diopter control ““3.0 to + 1.0 m-1
LCD monitor: 2.5-inch TFT colour (207,000 pixels)
Power supply: One NP-400 Li-ion battery
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