iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Minolta Dimage 7i Camera Review

In February 2001 Minolta announced Dimage 7 camera. Exactly a year ago I was lucky to test it. In March this year Minolta stormed into the market with the Dimage7i. In less than half a year I got a chance to try it. But in September Minolta released a progressive update to the 7 - Dimage 7Hi. Today I'm going to clear up the difference between the two models 7i and 7, in the hope that the latest model will arrive very quickly in our lab.

The improvements of the 7i solution do not touch the body design. Only some controls got other functions, and the labels on the body changed. The label on the 7th camera read "5.2 MegaPixels", and while on the new model it reads "5.0 MegaPixels". However, the resolution of the camera wasn't changed - the manufacturers finally decided to indicate only the harnessed horses, not the all in the herd. The camera is now able to work with sound - you can make your comments for shots or a video clip with sound accompaniment.  

The upper dial got two new functions: 
MEM (memory) - you can save camera settings and invoke them from the memory;
Metering modes: multi-segment, center-weighted and spot.
The lower dial got the FIL function (Filter) - correction of the general scene color. 

Apart from the auto release timer lamp the new model has a microphone behind the red window. 

The metering lock button changed its name

On its rear panel you can notice a new black dressing of a part of the casing and a speaker on the screen's right.

Like in the previous model, the shots can by supplemented with comments. You can choose letters from an on-screen keyboard with a joystick. Unfortunately, it must be done before shooting. Words are not recorded into the file's name but put exactly onto the shot, and you can't delete it afterwards without ruining the photo.   

Well, the range of symbols is really rich.

Here is how the comments look like. I wish the font looked more graceful: one dot which, for example forms the letter S, measures 8 x 8 pixels. 

What we are mostly interested in is the extension of the focusing functions. Now, like in expensive reflex cameras, you can meddle into the focusing process without turning the camera into the manual mode. Rotating the zoom ring with the half-pressed release button you can get a sharp image of objects required. In the manual focusing mode you can make an image sharp enough with 4x zooming in (magnifier). With a mini-joystick you can place a crosshair  in any place on the frame. A brightness histogram is now available in the shooting mode as well.  

In the manual focusing mode the screen displays a distance to the object. The matrix is used as a starting point. You can also adjust sharpness on an enlarged image.

DMF - Direct Manual Focusing - lets us correct sharpness without switching to the manual mode.
By moving the crosshair along the screen (on the right photo) you can set a point of auto focusing.

In the viewing mode you can get information on a shot which will be displayed on the left. Here is an incandescent lamp because we shot not a real mountain but its photo.

The scale and grid can also be displayed to help you compose shots. 

The menu has undergone some alterations mostly related with sound recording and remote control of external flashes. The new menu has the following look:  

To transfer data you have to enter the Trans menu and choose USB. 
The camera can probably send data via CF cards. Reportedly, the camera supports a modem and a network card. Unfortunately, I couldn't check it.

The series shooting speed has increased from 1.2 to 2.5 fps, there is a new high-speed shooting mode - up to 7 fps at the frame size of 1280x960 pixels. 

Now it also has two 2 macro modes: for the maximum and minimal focal lengths. 

Minolta has clearly taken the power usage issue very seriously and have resolved the problem with 4 NiMh chargeable batteries from Sanyo, AA, 1850 mAh. 


The camera, which was good enough before, got some slight alterations. The additional monitoring functions - a real-time histogram and a direct manual focusing mode - make operation in the semi-automatic mode more reliable. A sound channel allows adding comments to the shots without much fooling around, which is crucial for reporters. Finally, owners of several Minolta's flashes can use their cooperative capabilities entirely.

And now take a look at several photos made with this camera


Click on the photos to see the originals.


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