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Maxxum/Dynax 7

by Gary Friedman, 2002


Every time I bring my Minolta equipment to shoot a celebrity or a sporting event, I'm reminded of comedian Rodney Dangerfield's eternal decree, "I tell ya, I get no respect!" And it's true; despite being the 3rd largest brand for 35mm SLR cameras (having out-distanced long-time competitors such as Pentax, Konica, and Olympus in this market space), and having high-end optics every bit as good as Nikon and Canon, and despite developing one of the best user interfaces ever to appear on an autofocus camera, Minolta still gets no respect from fellow photographers in the holy war of camera status symbols.

hammock

That's a shame, because Minolta has been experimenting with new and unconventional improvements for over 15 years. Sometimes these improvements are small and unnoticeable (the improved flash hot shoe, the stronger metal bars to hold the strap), sometimes they fall flat on their face (like the entire xi product line, where they had the laudable goal of turning a camera into a Macintosh), and sometimes (okay, once) they shook the industry by launching their Maxxum AF SLRs (not a prototype or experimental model, as everyone else was doing at the time) a long time before Canon and Nikon could catch up.

Since the introduction of the 600si, though, Minolta has been experimenting with something far more subtle and important: the camera's user interface. What they have done with the new Maxxum 7 is not earth shattering or revolutionary, but is significant in that they address the top complaints that people have about modern AF SLR's. In short, they have achieved the difficult balance of being both feature-rich and intuitive. (Oh, this camera also boasts the best wireless flash system in the world, although Minolta apparently wants to keep this a secret).

Let me start with the outstanding features of this camera body which you won't find anywhere else:

  • They've gone back to using intuitive, can-use-them-in-the-dark-with-gloves-on knobs for all major functions, and dedicated one-button-per-function philosophy for almost everything else. Minolta must have hired somebody who actually takes pictures to design their new cameras. No more "hold these two buttons down while rotating this wheel".
  • Best wireless flash on earth (more about this later)
  • A bitmapped LCD screen on the back that explains every custom function to you. This is the first camera since the 9000 which I can use without feeling the need to tote an instruction manual or reference card.
  • A scene brightness map on the LCD readout (VERY useful!)
  • An active depth-of-field readout which updates as you change focus, f/stop, and zoom (when's the last time you saw a DOF scale on a zoom lens?)
  • Complete parameter memory - You can have the camera memorize all settings and recall them instantly in 3 different memories. (Handier than I thought it would be.)

LAX

And although Minolta is leading the pack with these very convenient features, they are also catching up with features that the other guys offered first:

  • Minolta has followed Nikon's lead of taking distance into account when using an on-camera flash. And like Nikon, Minolta has introduced a new "D" line of lenses which provides the focusing distance to the computer.
  • Minolta has gone to great lengths to add the ability to seamlessly switch between AF and manual, something Canon has had since their first EOS. (More about this later)
  • You can now select one of 5 AF sensors in the viewfinder via your thumb.

There are many other features on the camera that I won't go into because everyone else has them too: mirror-lockup on self-timer, auto bracketing, a flash compensation dial (yes, a dial!), exposure data memory, spot meter, rear-curtain flash synch, date/time/exposure imprint, advance to mid-roll, and the fastest focusing under an extremely constrained set of conditions which prevent apples-to-apples comparisons with other manufacturers.

The LCD display

The Maxxum 7 sports a bit-mapped LCD screen on the back, which provides some very handy functions:

  • You can read about each custom function in plain English (or Japanese, or German, Spanish, or French), scroll through, and select your option using the multi-axis thumb button. No more reference cards to carry around (as I have to do for my Maxxum 9). This is probably the camera's most outstanding improvement. Maxxum 7 brightness display
  • When you lock the exposure, the display can show you a relative brightness diagram. This essentially lets you see every element in Minolta's 14-segement metering pattern (kind of like taking 14 spot readings at equal spaces throughout your scene), letting you see the range of brightness values, and then allowing you to change exposure to place elements of the scene where you want them zone-wise. (Ansel Adams would have loved this feature!)
  • When using the depth-of-field button and a new "D" series lens is attached, the display will provide numbers on the distance range that will be in focus. This is a welcome feature for us old-timers who miss having DOF scales on their newfangled zoom lenses.
  • The display provides at-a-glance status of every feature. After using this camera for awhile you will know INSTANTLY if an obscure feature (like flash compensation or exposure lock) has been inadvertently left set.

Somebody was really thinking when they designed this feature.

The Wireless Flash

This has been Minolta's best-kept secret since the early 90's. Minolta has developed the ability to send a kind of morse code message via the camera's pop-up built-in flash to the real flash units that are close to the subject, able to control several off-camera flashes at once without the need for cables. (This is a BIG DEAL if you've ever had to struggle with the cable method on a regular basis.) By generating long and short pulse widths of light at relatively small intensities, the camera's built-in flash can tell the other flash units when to start flashing and when to stop (based on how much light has hit the film). This works kind of like an optical fiber communication link, but without the optical fiber. waterfall

Here's what happens, from the moment you press the shutter release to the moment the second curtain closes:

  1. First shutter curtain opens all the way.
  2. Built-in flash fires a "Morse code" that tells all flashes in the room to start outputting light.
  3. A sensor within the camera body looks at the film.
  4. As soon as the sensors decide that enough light has reached the film for a proper exposure, the built-in flash sends a second "all flashes off" Morse code command.
  5. The flashes stop outputting light. (Is 'outputting' even a word?)
  6. The second shutter curtain closes.

But wait!! Here's the really impressive part. When taking portraits, two flashes on either side of the subject can be individually addressed to produce a very nice automatic 2:1 light ratio between the flashes. It works like this:

  1. The first shutter curtain opens all the way.
  2. The built-in flash fires a "Morse code" that tells all flashes in the room to start outputting light.
  3. The sensor within the camera body looks at the film. As soon as the sensor sees enough light to provide 1/3 of a proper exposure, the built-in flash sends a signal that tells one of the flashes to stop.
  4. The other flash continues to output light. The "all flashes off" Morse code command is then issued when the sensor sees a proper exposure.
  5. The second shutter curtain closes.
2-flash wedding portrait

And using a Maxxum 7 and a 5600HS flash, all of the above occurs within a 60th of a second!! (The Maxxum 9, by comparison, requires 1/30th of a second to accomplish the wireless 2:1 ratio with 2 off-camera flashes as described above. This entire wireless flash function, in fact, was the reason Minolta put the pop-up flash in their Pro model Maxxum 9. This generated a lot of criticism at the time from people who didn't understand the utility of the wireless flash system.)

Another, even more useful mode is to turn the 2:1 ratio mode off, and place two strobes near your subject (one twice the distance as the first to achieve the unbalanced lighting). Using the wireless flash's high-speed synch mode, you can shoot with your f2.8 telephoto lens outdoors in bright sunlight with a shutter speed of 1/1,000th of a second or greater - Great outdoor flash-assisted portraits without having to stop down!

The wireless flash system makes off-camera flash absolutely painless, just as the introduction of TTL flash made using on-camera flash painless. You can set 3-4 flashes in a room, not worry at all about distance to the subject, and fire away. The camera's built-in flash will fire the "all off" command as soon as one or any combination of flashes results in a proper exposure. You can even aim a 3rd flash at the background and have everything come out great (this can get tricky, though.) One example of the 2-flash system in action appears to the left; if you really want to read the work of a fan have a look at Gary Walt's Minolta flash diatribe at http://home.imcnet.net/~waltsman/great.html

Why is Minolta's wireless flash system such a secret? Nothing about this system appears in Minolta's advertising. The instruction manual that comes with the camera was written by someone who doesn't understand it, and as a result suggests horrible lighting setups and lies when it tells you that to control more than one off-camera flash you need an IR flash controller (which Minolta doesn't even make any more.) The wireless flash sample images included in the instruction manual are abysmal. I'm convinced there are only two people working at Minolta who understand this system's brilliance: the person who invented it, and Phil Brandon who works at Minolta's New Jersey USA headquarters. Both must be very frustrated people.

Customization mode

I never thought I'd use this feature, but I must say I'm growing to appreciate it. I take a lot of time exposures, and each time I set up a shot it will usually take me a minute or two to set all of these parameters: church

  • Aperture priority mode
  • Manual focus
  • Stop down to f/22
  • Self-timer (2s with mirror lock-up)
  • Average (non-matrix) metering
  • Overexpose 3 stops (this works best for me in low light)
  • Automatic bracket mode in 0.7-stop increments

Rather than having to set each of these parameters by hand, the Maxxum 7 lets me set the camera this way once and then assign the camera's state to the "1" spot on the P-A-S-M dial This features saves even more time after the photos have been taken, since I don't have to un-do all of these parameters one at a time to return the camera to "normal" (and risk forgetting one, potentially affecting a future shot). Every camera parameter can be memorized in this way, and up to 3 different parameter sets can be stored. A very handy feature!

Go Anywhere Mode

(Go anywhere within the roll, that is!) Another feature is "Select-Frame Film Transport (Mid Reload)". With this feature you can not only advance to the middle of a roll (to support mid-roll changes), but you can also shuttle back and forth between exposures on the same roll. (I don't know if this is unique or not; I recall the Pentax LX having this feature so many moons ago). It comes in handy if you're in the habit of shooting double-exposures, for example http://www.danheller.com/images/FAQ/Tech/Moon/img3.html bottlehouse

For all the lengths they went to to make this camera intuitive, this feature remains slightly unintuitive. With film rewind (CF3) set to "Leader Left Out", you must press and hold the ADJ button, turn the wheel to select the frame you want to move to, and then press ADJ again (not the shutter release halfway, which is the way you confirm all other camera settings.) (To be fair, this is the only unintuitive feature of the entire camera. Not bad!)

Quirks

It is impossible to design a camera that will make everyone happy. Besides, do they not teach us in Journalism school that every story must be balanced?

  • No eyepiece shutter - some people who use tripods a lot really need this feature. (I'm one of them.) The camera's light meter is extremely responsive to light entering from the rear.
  • MF/AF switch. When Canon introduced their EOS line, they had a coveted feature where the user could manually tweak the focus once the AF made its best guess. Minolta's direct-coupling AF mechanism (the "screwdriver blade" motor in the body) has always prevented this mode of operation. So Minolta has gone to great lengths to develop an "autofocus clutch" mechanism, which allows the focus motor to be coupled / decoupled from the lens by computer control. Kind of a kludge, but Minolta is very proud of it. So now, you can set a custom function that releases the clutch after focus has been achieved, allowing manual focus just like the Canon system. The sound it produces every time you lock focus, plus the additional battery power this must consume, make you wish they had thought of this problem when they were designing their AF system back in the 80's.
  • And speaking of kludge, another feature they're very proud of is their DOF preview system which allows you to change f/stops while stopped down so you can see what will be in focus and try different settings in realtime (just like in the old days). But the Maxxum lens design, which took all diaphragm control away from the user, made it difficult to offer this age-old feature on the newer cameras. Well, after $2M of R&D, it's back!
  • (On a positive note, with their new lens re-design, the focus ring doesn't move anymore unless you're the one doing the moving. THAT was a needed improvement - it allows for wider focus rings without the additional strain on the motor that would result when the ring was not able to rotate freely.)

couch

And then there's STF mode. I have no idea what this does, as the manual was written by the same guy who didn't understand the flash. (Note to anyone at Minolta: Take heart. Nikon's SB-28 manual is also famous for being unclear.) The manual says it's supposed to emulate the perfectly-defocused nature of Minolta's ultra-high-end exotic 135mm f/2.8 [T4.5] STF lens, which has two diaphragms for a perfectly round aperture and "beautifully defocused" background. How the STF effect is emulated and the visual benefits obtained were not clear to me after reading the manual; your camera must be on a tripod and your subject must be perfectly still as it takes 7 overlapping multiple-exposures all on the same frame (perhaps with a variable change between exposures?) As you can tell, I have never experimented with this feature and I suppose if I have to ask what it does, I probably don't need it. (Kind of like the beginners who ask if they should buy an F5.)

Field Use

All of these features are a lot of fun to talk about, but the real point of this camera is using it. The camera is an absolute joy to use; it is fast, it is responsive, and there is very little thought required to go from "I need to set XXX" and having it set. (Contrast this with my 700si: "Which non-obvious button do I press while I shoot to have the on-camera flash act as the fill?" "Where did they hide the self-timer button and why do I have to re-set it for each picture?") One custom function that I have found very handy is the ability to reassign the functions of the two exposure-setting dials - the dial by the shutter release now controls exposure compensation, which makes it absolutely painless and quick to bracket intelligently without wasting film.

The camera does have available a vertical control grip, which has received lots of written accolades. (I'm personally not a fan of it - they add weight, bulk, and do little except impress others as to what a macho photographer you must be). It does have one new unexpected feature, though, that didn't appear on the VC for the Maxxum 9: a MF/AF button where you would expect the AF Lock button to be. What's going on? My guess is they felt the VC would be used for shooting portraits; and for portraits once you achieve your focus you can set it to manual focus and shoot away. So this button allows you to do that. One cool thing is that by setting a couple of parameters you can turn this button into an "AF only while I press this button" mode, which is even handier for portraits.

pelicans

The camera is lightweight, which may turn some people off since we tend to associate "lightweight" with all sorts of negative connotations ("low-end", "cheap", "toy", etc.). Do not be fooled; in my opinion this camera is better than the Maxxum 9 in every respect except motor drive speed (4 fps vs. 5) and construction. (Okay, the top shutter speed is lower too, but really, who among us has had a use for a 1/12,000th shutter speed?)

The Maxxum 7 has become my preferred wedding and portrait camera (due to the advanced flash capabilities) and travel camera (lightweight, fast focusing, and brightness range display for long exposures). And as for the Rodney Dangerfield syndrome, well, I'd rather be the benefactor of some useful innovation than participate in a holy war.

Where to Buy

The Maxxum 7 (U.S.A) is stocked by Adorama, a retailer that pays photo.net a referral fee for each customer, which helps keep this site in operation. For additional retailer information, see our recommended retailers page and the user recommendations section.


review by Gary Friedman ( http://friedmanarchives.com)

Article created 2002

Readers' Comments


Add a comment



Graham Byrnes , February 05, 2002; 02:18 A.M.

Just one thought. Many years back I bought an Olympus OM4, because I believed it was the best choice at the time. Since then, Olympus have dropped the ball and gone home.

The point is that the Maxxum 7 sounds great, but I'd hesitate because of the possibility that Minolta will tire of being (a distant) number 3 and give up, leaving me with a dead-end system. If you think technical superiority will win over market prejudice, think beta vs vhs. That said, I still love my OM4 :-)

Thang Hoang , February 05, 2002; 03:04 P.M.

I agree wholeheartedly about the user interface of the Maxxum 7.

My first SLR (and only so far) is the XTsi. While that was quite easy to learn how to use, there are quite a few features that are a pain to use. An example is switching from continuous autofocus to single shot autofocus. The other annoyances is that settings can so easily be reset by accidently hitting the annoying P button.

When I first handled the Maxxum 9, I thought WOW!!! The dials have so simplified the interface. Make a setting and boom it stays set. I loved it. Unfortunately, the Maxxum 9 is way out of my price range. Enter the Maxxum 7. Affordable and offers all the conveniences and 99.9% of the features of the Maxxum 9. I would buy the Maxxum 7 (or 9) based on the user interface itself.

The other thing that amazed me was how comfortable the grip on both the 9 and 7 were given their weight. Both fit perfectly into my hands. I don't have large hands (I would say they are on the small side for a person of my size, 5'10") but my XTsi's grip is a little too small. Both the Maxxum 9 and 7 were a perfect fit.

Comparing the features of the Maxxum 7 against other cameras, it easily is as good or better. Sure an EOS 3 or F100 is better but they are also alot more expensive. I think the Maxxum 7 strikes a great balance of features for price. In fact I think Minolta easily offers much more for the price when compared to other manufacturers.

I am a big fan of Minolta. Of course I say that from an amatuer perspective. I can understand why pros would opt for Canon and Nikon because they have better reputed pro support. But anyone who doesn't make a living at photography couldn't go wrong with Minolta.

Chuck Fan , February 06, 2002; 11:41 P.M.

I think the Maxxum 7 shows insightful market research by Minolta. In both Nikon and Canon product lines, there is a big gap between the top end bodies like F5, F100, EOS-1V, EOS-5, and the consumer bodies like the Elan 7E, N80, N65 and Rebel. What Minolta did was to insert itself right into the middle of that range. Maxxum 7 could meet the needs of serious amateurs every bid as well as the F100 and EOS-3, but without some of the frills designed to attract pro-shooters like die-cast metal body shell or extra weather-seal. This way Maxxum 7 could be priced almost as a mid-range body, yet featurewise it could still beat the pants off of any midrange Nikon or Canon.

Thang Hoang , February 07, 2002; 04:06 P.M.

As I have alluded to in my previous comment, I have done some research into upgrading my Maxxum XTsi to a higher end Maxxum body.

I do have one question: is the autofocus speed of the 7 as fast as the Minolta ads make it out to be?

I would like to take more action shots of my kids of which is almost impossible with my XTsi. I can never get it to autofocus fast enough using my Sigma 70-300 at 70mm f/4.0. There is always some element of blur.

Jeffrey Lazo , February 07, 2002; 09:34 P.M.

I have a Maxxum 7, upgraded from an XTSi. The AF with the 50mm 1.7, 135mm 2.8 and the 24-105mm is as fast as they advertise. Locking the AF sensor does make it fast as it doesn't have to select a sensor. The article mentioned the ability to choose from 5 AF sensors, correct me if I am wrong, I thought that I have 9 AF sensors to choose from, basically a three by three square selectable with the thumb wheel. I enjoy this aspect of the camera very much.

John Travassos , February 08, 2002; 02:20 P.M.

I've used the new Maxxum 7 now for a little more than a year. I must agree. It's a wonderful camera. Only criticisms I can offer is the lack of an eye piece shutter and the lack of a 100% coverage in the view finder.

The camera is easy to use and the custom functions are incredibly easy to work and understand. I agree that the person who wrote the manual on the flash is an idiot.

I'm glad that Minolta is rated third because it keeps the prices down. Just check it out for yourself.

If Minolta wakes up and places these new features found on the Maxxum 7 onto the Maxxum 9 they will undoubtedly produce the best 35mm SLR in the world. Why they haven't is beyond me. I've suggested it to Phil Bardon in their NJ headquarters and he expressed the same frustration. I think part of the problem is the big focus on going digital. But for those of us still enjoying the film world such a camera would be a blessing.

Matthew Wightman , February 11, 2002; 12:40 A.M.

I have been shooting Minolta for quite a while now. I have the mMaxxum 5 and love it to death. I feel everyone's pain towards status symbols and cameras in reguards to Minolta getting little respect. I personally think Nikon is over priced and I wouldn't entertain buying any other brand, besides a canon if forced to deviate from Minolta. My final comment goes to the Maxxum 7 user who said one of his issues with the 7 is diopter coverage. Point in fact is NO camera has 100% coverage except one model- the Minolta MAXXUM 9.

lucy liu , February 12, 2002; 05:28 P.M.

I remember Maxxum 7 has eyepiece shutter in the strap.

Thang Hoang , February 13, 2002; 10:17 A.M.

For those who have used the Maxxum 7 and other Maxxum bodies, have you had a chance to take advantage of the 'D' flash metering? Does it make a huge improvement with flash photography? Does it help a great deal or is it just one of those overrated features that marketing likes to push?

Also, what flash metering mode would the camera default to if you used say the 'old' 54000 HS flash. This flash with the Maxxum 9 used to perform a 'preflash' to aid in flash metering. I was wondering if the Maxxum 7 would at least do the same thing with the 5400HS.

I'm asking because I do alot of flash photography and was wondering if it was worth me getting a 'D' lens and new flash along with upgrading the body. The one thing I'm hoping the 'D' metering would help with is off-centered subjects using flash. My XTsi is guaranteed to overexposed the subject almost all of the time even when I use fast film and a slow shutter speed.

Thanks.

Tom Montemarano , February 16, 2002; 12:16 P.M.

I found that the 4-segment flash metering on the 7 greatly improved my flash exposures (center or off center) compared with the centerweighted flash metering on the XTsi. I don't have any "D" lenses. The 4-segment metering is in 2 of the flash metering options. The third is center weighted. The only thing you have to be careful of when using the 4-segment metering is not to center the subject, AF, and then recompose moving the subject towards the side (the way many of us do with ambient exposure). When the camera locks focus it selects which of the flash segments will be the primary cell for TTL flash exposure metering. However, unlike the ambient meter (14-segment), the exposure is measured during the flash not at time of focus lock. If you have moved the subject out of the primary meter region, the exposure won't be correct (subject will most likely be overexposed). So if you use the 4-segment meter, just focus and shoot. Don't recompose.

I believe that the 5400 will preflash if it is in HSS mode.

Tom

Sharon C. , February 16, 2002; 09:22 P.M.

I've had my 7 for a year now. I do shoot professionally, so I had to consider the "holy war" of 35mm cameras. I researched each camera brand, and I honestly liked what I read about Minolta the best. I heard many people talk about "low-end", "high-end", "pro", "amateur", and it went on and on. I realized that in the end- nice glass and knowing how to use your equipment mattered most. NOT the name. I decided not to fall prey to the name game, and I went with the camera I truly liked best- the 7. (My second choice was Nikon FM2N. I had only owned manual cameras- I really wanted to try the autofocus, TTL thing.) I could've had anything for the money I paid- I could've gone Nikon or Canon and "joined a side"- but that wasn't going to define the images I would be creating.

I have enjoyed this camera for going on a year now, and I have pretty much forgotten about the "holy war". Even if someone else says something, I look at them like they must be crazy to buy into that garbage. I think people who shoot Minolta are those rare people who've actually bothered to READ about their brand. When people make negative comments, it just means to me that they are uneducated when it comes down to brands and what they do. I had a fellow pro suggest to me, "Get a Canon- that's what everyone else is shooting." Some people are followers and they will just follow along for the sake of fitting in and being accepted by their peers. That's not me. I even like the fact that I shoot the "underdog"- when people compliment my photographs and ask what I shoot- I'm proud to show them my 7. I take the credit for my images, not my camera. Often, people see the name Nikon or Canon and assume a picture's nice because it was shot by that brand.

A funny story I'm borrowing from someone else: This photographer was shooting a wedding and the host said, "That camera takes such beautiful pictures!" The photographer politely thanked her. Later he was treated to a dinner. The host came back and asked, "Are you enjoying your meal?" And the photographer winked and said, "It's fabulous! Those pots and pans back there must be wonderful!"

Mike I. , February 16, 2002; 11:28 P.M.

Just my 2c: I was looking for a new camera this fall, and after quite a bit of research ended up with "the 7". I loved the feel. I loved the interface. i loved the features. Heck, I loved the 24-105 zoom!

Then I took it with me to White Mountains. NH for Columbus Day. It was rain. No, I didn't abuse the camera. I took a couple of picture when the first few drops came down, and then promptly stuffed it in a camera bag. Which I then put inside my backpack. Soon enough I was all soaking. the inside of my backpack was wet and when I came back there was some condensation on the camera. And it was dead! Well, not quite, it resurrected the next morning. However not completely: I couldn't turn it off anymore. And when I could, something else wouldn't work. And so on. I waited for a week wondering if it will go away, and when it didn't, just returned the camera.

The bottomline: great specs, amazing features, wonderful design. And completely useless once leave your house. I don't know about other companies/models -- it may be that this is a common feature of all mid-level SLRs out there, not just minolta. Whatever the reason, I have got myself a second hand Pentax LX and live happily ever after, never have to worry when it will die on me.

Andrzej Maciejewski , February 17, 2002; 06:02 P.M.

I have just a general comment to add. I also study carefully all available information before getting a new camera or a system. It appears to me, that there are few elements in decision making that we kind of know of, but I would like to spell them here and hear your comment as well.

#1. Camera body itself: well built body, metal by all means, resistant to dust and water; fast autofocus with continuous and predictive focusing option; autoexposure with only few modes (P, A, S, M) and no more fancy sub modes; 3 types of metering system settings; vertical grip, this should be standard feature; fast advance film; exposure compensation; bracketing option; built in flash (the solution that Minolta Maxxum 7 and 9 has, seems to be superior); 100% viefinder; diopter adjustment; antifogging eye piece in viefinder should be a standard feature; shutters in current models are very good; power source, I think AA batteries like the Nikon N90S has b/o low price; level sensor (forget about the buble thing on your tripod, have it in the camera, supposedly Canon EOS 1V should have one but mine doesn't work); mirror lock up; and may be a panoramic option. And that is pretty much all regarding the body. Many other options complicate the use of camera and prolong learning period.

#2. The lens: Minolta has good lenses but quite expensive, for longer focal length Canon is superior because of image stabilizing ability, Nikon has only one lens of that kind the VR; IS ability cannot be overemphasized, it is a higly sought feature by many photographers and possibly underappreciated by some others as well, this seems to be the weak point of many lens producing companies and most likely reason for Nikon to lose its supremacy; current focal lengths and zoom combinations seem to be ok.

#3. The flash system: although the genaral flush application is simple, a lot should be discovered about full range of flush abilities, in other words flush photography is difficult with existing tools, am I right?; wireless system of Minolta is very attractive and it is probably best right now (I have problems with Canon for example, master unit gives only info flush to slaves but no output for the picture taking); red eye reduction, bracketing, exposure compensation (shouldn't this be done by camera only?, I am not sure); balanced flush exposure and flush exposure lock are all usefull. Has anyone used a manual flush mode?

See what you think.

Sharon C. , February 17, 2002; 09:05 P.M.

Well, here's the thing. Why should any one brand be best? I think they should be recognized for where they stand out, and for me personally, it's:

I give due credit to Canon for having the image stabilizing lenses- very nice feature.

I give it to Nikon for their very beautiful FM2N and now FM3A which I am still in lust with.

And I give it to Minolta for their underappreciated flash system and innovative interface.

There is SOMETHING about each of these brands I like- but I can't be greedy- I'm too poor to be greedy- but if I had all the money I needed, I guarantee I'd own many different brands of cameras. I think I would collect them and shoot whatever I was in the mood for.

Steven Klein , February 18, 2002; 01:30 A.M.

After reading so many positive write ups on the Maxxum 7, I have started to think about trading in my Nikon equipment for a Minolta kit. Then I stopped into Adorama today to check the 7 out and although I'm impressed with many of the features, I'm feeling a bit skeptical about the intuitive controls/superior haptics issues. I'm a BIG fan of the Nikon F100/N80 control layout. I LIKE being able to control functions without having to shift my hands. For all the positive comments about the 7, however, I found that it didn't seem to have the same 'every control can be actuated with a subtle shift of the finger' feel of the F100 or N80. Take, for example, the exposure and flash compensation controls. On the 7, these functions are adjusted using the big knob on the left of the top of the camera. To operate these controls, however, one has to take your left hand away from the lens, locate the knob by touch and set the proper setting. With the Nikons, however, one simply slides your finger back off the shutter and presses one of two buttons located immidately behind it, then sets the proper compensation with a flick of the rear wheel, which rests comfortably beneath the pad of your thumb. All this time you can be zooming/focusing with your left hand or -- where you've got a lot of glass up front -- simply continuing to support the camera.

Now, I still may go with the Minolta in the end for its other features, but for the moment I remain agnostic on the superior controls issue.

Sharon C. , February 18, 2002; 07:47 P.M.

Steve-

If you're shooting F100's I don't think the improvement will be drastic enough to justify switching brands. Now, if you were like me- shooting fairly older model manual Canons, the difference I saw was extreme. (2 completely different worlds there!) Once you learn a system so well, it may be more of an inconvenience to switch than a benefit, especially since the F100's are excellent cameras in the same "catagory" as the 7. Unless you just develop a "thing" for the 7 and can't get it out of your mind, then it's probably not worth it to switch. I had no TTL system at all- I was starting from scratch. I won't be switching anything unless my camera breaks and cannot be repaired. Just my 2 cents.

CÜNEYT OCAKLILAR , February 19, 2002; 01:18 A.M.

Steve,

You don't have to use the big knob on the top left of the camera for exposure compensation. You can compensate the exposure using the rear control dial (if you prefer) by setting a custom function with 7. This has been explained in its user manual. One should definitely use the 7 to understand its futures completely.

Lewis Lang , February 19, 2002; 06:29 A.M.

Great report Gary and some really nice photos too :-)

A couple of nitpicks:

+ The way I see it both Minolta and Canon are tied in the flash department in different ways. You go on and on about Minolta's superior flash but it isn't superior just has different features than the Canon. One area inparticular where the Minolta flash system is particularly lacking is in the wireless TTL flash department. You can set 1:2 (and even 2:1, at least w/ my 5400HS flash and either the 600si or the 7 which I both own) but the Canon wireless TTL flash ratio system is far more precise in its settings (not exposure accuracy, just in precision of ratio settings - for Canon's three flash groups (and a group of flashes can be any number of flashes in a single group limited by your creativity or your bank account/overdraft limit for buying more accessory flashes) groups A&B can be set to 1/2 step increments whilst group C can be set to both 1/2 and 1/3 stop increments) since it allows three different groups of flashes each w/ its own separately settable ratio settings from plus 3 stops to minus 3 stops (that's 8:1 or 1:8 ratios, not the paltry 2:1 or 1:2 one stop flash ratio differences of current Minolta flashes). W/ the Canon system these flash ratios can be achieved _regardless_ of distance to the subject, unlike the Minolta system which requires you toguestimate how far each flash must be from whatever surface it illuminates to achieve a flash ratio difference. The Canon system is particularly effective for on-location portraiture as you can set the background flash at +1, the key at 0 (normal/1:1 exposure) and a fill-in light at minus 2 for an exact/dramatic portrait lighting set up - no futzing around w/ distances.

On/w/ the Minolta flash system you can achieve a quick down and dirty one stop difference between main and fill flash (whether that fill flash be the on camera flash or an off camera flash w/ the help of a wireless controller) by setting either a 1:2 or 2:1 ratio but that's as far as it goes. I find the Canon flash system far more precise though the Minolta is quick/easier to use for less demanding/exacting setups. (And yes I have used wireless flash myself w/ both my 600si and the 7 and I have been to Waltsman's site and seen his excellent work/examples using the Minolta wireless flash system w/ his 9xi and 600si I believe).

Where Minolta has it all over Canon (despite having done wireless TTL flash for years) is that w/ the Minolta system all you need is one additional flash in order to achieve wireless (since the camera's built-in flash acts as a wireless controller) whereas w/ the Canon you need either at least a 550EX flash on camera (as the master flash) and a 420EX flash off camera or at least 2 550EX flashes (one as on-camera master and one as off camera slave since the 420EX flashes can only be used as slaves in a multiple wireless flash setup) or a wireless Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 on camera and either the 550EX or 420EX speedlites off camera. Canon flashes are _very_ expensive so there is a definite financial advantage at the very least to being able to use Minolta's built-in camera flashes as wireless controllers.

Is it true that Minolta can do ratio flash at only 1/60 sec/ as your review suggests? (I only own the 5400HS so I can't test this out for real right now). I thought one of the advantages of the 7 (w/ the 5600HS at least) was that it could do wireless TTL flash up to the maximum shutter speed of the camera, not only in normal flash mode but in ratio flash mode too... Might want to talk to Phil about this...

Don't think I am against Minolta's wireless flash system, I love it and I use it and I'll continue to use it, I just think that there ares ome areas for improvement here... If Minolta's future cameras are able to do separately settable flash ratio flash groups (plus or minus 3 stops like Canon in each flash group) like Canon and do ratio flash up to the camera's maximum shutter speed (not just 1/60 sec. w/ ratio flash - is this right?) then Minolta truly would take the lead again in flash technology - its nearly there now, some things Minolta does better and some Canon does better w/ wireless/high speed flash. Do I see a Maxxum 8 w/ these additional features and a beefed up body? Minolta seems to be concentrating on digital (and dropping APS) so its more likely that we will see a digital Maxxum 7, a D'mage 7 or 8 w/ these features but "we shall see"...

+ By the way, its spelled "Bradon", I believe not "Brandon" or "Bardon" as some have said here. I have spoke w/ Phil many times over the phone and he has been extremely helpful answering questions in the past.

+ By the way, I do prefer the slightly less magnification of my 600si's viewfinder image since its easier see all of it at the same time/gives the impression of a higher eyepoint than the 7's .80x? viewfinder. Having siad this, the 7 has one of the best/brightest/clearest AF viewfinders on the planet. (The Pentax ZX-5n is also pretty darn good in this department, so is the F100 (which also is a bit heavier than the 7), if you want to have an even brighter/contrastier viewfinder you probably have to go to manual focus cameras like the Contax RX or the discontinued but ever brilliant Contax ST).

Enough of picking nits. I have been longing for a 7 as long as I've owned my 600si (about two years - I bought the 600 in May?/June? of '99 and the 7 finally after many months of saving at the end of August, 2001) because I loved the 600si's interface but hated its lack of shutter release priority (the 800si is also a good camera but far bulkier than the 600si, to me, and while it has 3 group memory settings like the 7, it lacks the everything there right in front of you usually one function per knob/dial interface of the 7 and the 9 and the 600si) and I find it/the 7 (build quality aside which is _more than adequate_ for rough everyday use, just don't take it out in the rain like one poster did, its an electronic camera and not designed to be splash/rain resistant) superior to most if not all 35mm cameras not only in its class (EOS 3 and Nikon F100) but to all other 35mm AF SLRs period both in features, compact size, user interface and bang for the buck). I also own Contax (manual focus) equipment so my optical and ergonomic/interface stnards are very high.

I have ownedown Nikon MF, Canon EOS (great features for the most part but lousy high eye-point viewfinders, Minolta's and especially Nikons are much betterin this department), Leica R, Leica M, Contax MF several times, yadda yadda yadda but none come close for instant repsonse (AF or not) to quick changing situations (people/events) as this Maxxum does. In fact, even though I have suctom functioned the camera up the yin yang and have all three memory modes set for groups of settings that I most frequently use (usually related to setting different fill flash ratios in different kinds of light, aperture priority, etc.) the easiest/fastest most responsive mode I find is the green "program" (as opposed to the regular "P"/program mode setting) which enables me to lock onto a subject like/as fast nobody's business. When I want more control I'll go into one of my three memory modes (apertur priority) or do some kind of program shifting in the regular "P" mode when/if time allows. The beauty of this camera is that its so customizable that it is not only settable to be best for you but best for you in very specific kinds of shooting situations. The memory modes which memorize groups of favored settings combined w/ the LCD on the back to show you all the setings at a glance are really a Godsend, so is the ability to recall previous shot data both for curiosity and confirmation sake of what you've shot. The only things that would improve the camera in this area would be to have the camera write all the settings onto just outside of the frame's image area on film so you wouldn't need an accessory to download all your past shooting data and perhaps an LCD image preview which wil show you both an image of what you just shot (and have blank area of the image that blink to show when you are over/under-exposed/out of range for the film/exposure setting you are using) as well as a histogram recorded for each image you've shot (I know that this would require alot of built-in camera memory or perhaps an IBM microdrive built-in, but most digital cameras have these features but it would be nice to have it on a 35mm SLR too, perhaps on a Maxxum 8? Also it would be nice to take this idea one step further and have a true hybrid film/digital 35mm SLR that would be able to simultaneously expose/capture hi-res difital images as well as identical images on film - also a nice thing to have when either the microdrive runs out of space or you run out of film, perhaps an accessory vertical grip could connect to the bottom of the camera both as an extended power source/digi recorder (AA batteries plus CR123 batteries as well as have a built-in port in this "digital grip" for microdrives and/or Compact Flash cards). If the digital chip/sensor could be built into the grip (retractable?) then all the photographer would need for a better hybrid digi/film camera would be a newer accessory digital grip w/ perhaps a higher MP sensor and/or better software already built into the grip - or perhaps Minolta could design (covered from the elements) digi chips/sensors that could be added to the camera or taken out through a palm wing door on the side of the camera much as they used to do w/ their accessor y custom function cards - some things to think about "Minds at Minolta" ;-)...

My two Maxxum zooms, 24-50mm f/4 (quality so good it should be called a G lens! :-)) and 70-210 f/4 (both bought used, the second lens is now discontinued but readily available on the used market for a fraction of the Canon L equivalent's price but not quality) are also optically superb and nothing can touch their optical quality in their respective zoom and aperture ranges for the price, they are second only (slightly) to my Zeiss primes and I've blown up an image from the 70-210 up to 16x20" w/ excellent results. Neither Nikon nor Canon has anything currently in the 24-50mm zoom range that can optically touch the quality of the Maxxum zoom (the 25-50 f/4 Nikon AIS lens comes close if not equal to the Maxxum's zoom quality but it is a manual focus lens and much bigger/weightier than the 24-50 Maxxum). For about $500 used I have a two lens system that can't be touched in price/quality/range by any other make. Add a Maxxum 7 for $600-650 or a Maxxum 5 if you're on a budget and the optical/creative possibilities are only limited by your mind not your/an mega equipment budget.

Is the 7 the perfect camera for me or the perfect camera for anyone - period? No, but its 95% if not more there in features and that's more tha good enough for me. For its price and its feature range it is unparalled and a "brand new modern classic" if one can use all those oxymorons in the same sentence ;-). No camera no matter how good/well designed is as good as the mind behind it, but the mind of Minolta is coming closer and closer (still no surreal "LEWISVISION" custom function mode and no Ansel Adams landscape mode or Mary Ellen Mark PJ mode ;-))...

By they way, did I say "buy the Maxxum 7, because its a great camera for features for the buck for the intermediate photographer to the pro"? Well, now I did :-)

***If some think I am blowing smoke w/ regards to either my technical standards or creative mind/abilities they can check out my website to see if my words are backed up by truth and good images at:

http://members.aol.com/Lewisvisn/home.htm

Regards,

"Only from the mind of Lewis" Lang (who happens to gleefully use those cute little boxes (cameras) and cylinders (lenses) made at "only from the mind of Minolta") ;-) :-)

Brien Szabo , March 07, 2002; 09:18 A.M.

If Nikon or Canon came out with this camera, its image would have exploded all over the covers of photo mags for months. I have both the 7 and the 600si, both are brilliant camera's with old time feels to them but stocked with todays technology.

When i teach my beginner photography course, i have a session or two where i have everyone bring in their cameras so i can break them of their "P" mode mentality. It never fails that the Minolta is the most user friendly of the "Big 3". There are always a couple people who still have manual camera's (which is cool in its own right) and i lend them either the 600si or 7 to use as I go over what "A" mode does, "S" and "M" and so on. The Nikon, Canon users are flipping through their manuals trying to see what button to push so they can touch another switch to activate the function. With the Minolta they see that you just turn the knob. I've had a lot of converts. I never admonish those other brands because it's all about preference and quite frankly Nikon and Canon have larger lens selections and now this "IS" technology that Minolta seems behind on concerns me. Never-the-less, ease of use for a high end camera and the 7's new designs are perfect for me in the field.

hater hates , March 13, 2002; 06:44 P.M.

You know.....I'm only 18....I use along with my EOS system a really old east-german mechanical Praktica MTL-5...you probably have never heard of it...BUT I like it better than my canon(and any other nikon and minolta and pentax i have ever used)because of one thing...when you put the standard 50/1.8 Tessar(Carl Zeiss,20 years old one) lens on it and look through the viewfinder it really looks like you are watching the scene with your own eyes,not through a viewfinder..and this is the only camera I have seen acting like this...absolutely NOT like my canon..with 50mm on the scene looks smaller...I have to put an 80mm and it seems "real".I dont know why is that,maybe the eyepiece coverage...they say the praktica displays only 95%,but look,I have played with a Dynax 9(maxxum 9)which must display 100%.But the scene really looks smaller in the viewfinder compared to my Praktica! This is my comment,I'm curious what will you say about it, Vladimir

Sharon C. , March 26, 2002; 11:14 A.M.

Whooooo Hooooooooo!!!!

K Tong , March 28, 2002; 02:47 A.M.

Whoweee! Gooddeee! Signs that Minolta is waking up! Can anyone confirm this ( I can't read Japanese so going to the site is useless )and maybe get some more information? Of course we want more, like a 24-135 f/3.5-4.5(or 5.6) APO lens with SSM. And a Maxxum/Dynax 7 with digital back, a.k.a Maxxum/Dynax D7. One can dream...

Paul Yuen , March 28, 2002; 07:43 A.M.


New gems from Minolta

According to Minolta's Japanese website, Minolta has just made a debut to 3 new D lenses all equipped with ULTRASONIC MOTORS, known as SSM, and oh with internal focusing AT LAST! The 3 lenses are 28-70mm F2.8, 70-200mm F2.8 (what a combo!), and 300mm F4. 2 new extenders (with D capability), namely 1.4x and 2x, are also introduced. These should become the big hits for Minolta in 2002....What a match to my Dynax 7 :)

Ramin Mohammadalikhani , April 23, 2002; 02:59 A.M.

I have had maxxum 7 for more than one year now. I was canon user before that i deciced to switch over the brands because i disliked the EOS's user interface. I was also always missing exposure data recording on my camera and was dreaming about it. When a sales clerk showed me maxxum7, i was not sure about minolta. I took its brochure to home and read it. I realized it must be my favvorite camera. I did some enquiries around for a month about minolta brand and the camera. Finally i bought it. This was one of my few correct decisions in life! It is the right camera for me. I like it a lot. Strong points: control lay-out, data saving, excellent metering, good AF, lots of features Good camera!

S.P. H. , May 06, 2002; 03:36 P.M.

I've lately decided to take up photography as I've been interested in it for a long time. It appears that the best camera for me is either the Maxxum 7 or the Nikon N80. My only concern with the models is that I have read that the N80 scratches film and that the Minolta lenses aren't particularly great. Any comments which would help me decide on a system would be much appreciated.

Mark Smith , May 13, 2002; 01:22 P.M.

I have now owned my Maxxum 7 for 18 months. I have been taking photographys for 18+ years using Pentax, Minolta, and Nikon cameras. I find that the camera is the best there is for the overall public and most professionals. The metering system, ergonomic, auto focus system are all extremely acurate and functional. Unless you need a 8 or 10 frames a second this camera has it ALL. <br> The quality of the Minolta line of lenses are just as good with there 9 blade, circular apeture, multi-coated "G" lens. I would put that lens against any brand from lens from Zeiss, Canon, Nikon, Leica and Alpa. The only problem with there line of lenses is that they need a greater diversity in focal length.<br> As for the value, you can have a Maxxum 7 body, a 28-70mm f2.8 and 80-200mm f2.8, a complete professional package for $2800.00 this is significantly less that buying Nikon's F100, F5 and lenses or Canons EOS 1 V. I don't think that the EOS-3 is in the same class.<br> I like this camera so much I just bought a second so I can carry bot a long and short lenses out on a shoot without taking the time to change lenses. Additionally, I wanted a backup and no sense in stepping down a knotch for you backup.<br><br> As for the guy up there shooting with Praktica camera, don't even bring that up in the same breath as a Minolta. It is a fine camera for manual photography, not all the Zeiss Jena lenses are all that sharp. But it in no way has the functionality of a Maxxum 7 including the focus screen, which by the way Minolta makes the focus screens for Hassleblad too.

Mark Krohn , May 31, 2002; 02:32 A.M.

Just thought I would add my two cents and maybe help out the next guy who comes along. I have been searching for a Camera for two weeks to replace a rather crappy Camera that was re-gifted to us. I am an absolute beginner, but I need a hobby and am serious about pursuing photography on that basis alone, in addition we travel alot and our old camera just wasn't producing the results we wanted. I stumbled onto this site as I began my search for the camera of my dreams. To everyone who has contributed in any way to this site, I really am thankful, there is alot of knowledge on this site and it helped me immeasurably to just dig into what you all were saying and begin to learn enough to make an informed purchase. (The where to buy section was also key and saved me God knows what heartache as I almost purchased from Abes of Maine early on....Holy Krikees Batman! That was a close one! I will post on that section later as well.) So to everyone who has taken the time to give their two cents.....THANK YOU!!!! I was thinking of beginning with a Canon Rebel 2000...pretty inexpensive and not a bad starter camera for someone with no knowledge of photography. However, knowing that I really wanted to pursue photography as a hobby, I just couldn't commit the finances. The real decision came for me between the F80 and the Canon Eos Elan 7. I personally preferred the Nikon (exactly why I couldn't tell you...as I know nothing of Photography...perhaps their advertising had found its way into my brain at an early age...it is pretty scary to think that I had a preference based on a name alone but I will leave that for you conspiracy advertisment theorists to ponder.) Anyhoo, feature for feature when I compared the two, I came to think the Eos Elan 7 was a better buy. I made my decision to purchase the Canon Elan 7 and then I slept on it for a couple of nights (DONT BUY HASTILY!!!! CONSIDER!!! CONSIDER!!! CONSIDER!!!!) I came really close to ordering but in the end I just wasn't really excited about the purchase, there were many reasons that came into play in my decision. None of these reasons are really relevant. I would say this though, if you have the finances to purchase the Elan 7 and no more, I would purchase it. It was the best of all that I considered in its price class. However, for me in the end I decided to consider Minolta. I read every review I could find here, there and everywhere and the Maxxum 7 had real good press. I liked what users had to say about the camera. I also considered why I had not considered Minolta before, for me it was like the ugliest girl in Freshman year with the zit marked face turning out to be the Senior Year Prom Queen. The more I considered Minolta the more I liked it, the more I considered the Maxxum 7 the more impressed I was with it. The Maxxum 7 is worth every one of the $200 dollars more it costs in comparison to the Elan 7, if you intend to really dig into photography...all those bells and whistles aint gonna matter much if you never take it out of fully automatic mode. Another seller for me was the fact that the USA version comes with a 3 year warranty and the Elan 7 only one year. Sure you can buy an extended warranty, but when a company gives a 3 year warranty it says to me "Hey, we aint trying to sell you no shit. We have confidence that our product will perform well over a year." This means something to me when I am considering spending $500 on a camera, to offer one year is really insulting to me. The Maxxum 7 isn't weather sealed, and it isn't the best camera that money can buy. However, it is well built, easy to work with, nice on the eyes, and doesn't pretend to be anything it isn't. As for Minolta, I have always favored the underdog. Hope this helps someone. Thanks again.

Alexander Karasev , December 12, 2002; 04:44 P.M.

With the introduction of the three new D ultrasonic lenses, I am wondering:

1. When will these lenses be available in the US?

2. Will these work with all existing Minolta bodies? Or with Maxxum 5 / 7 / 9 only? Perhaps if someone already asked this already from someone in the know at Minolota USA, they might post the comment here please.

3. Will there be a film based Maxxum 8? For folks who have a good grasp on Minolta release timings (the 7, 9 alternating with 8, for 000, i, xi, si, and current generations), perhaps they might comment on what the timings have been between 9|7 and 8 generations. Of course there are other factors (digital focus, etc.), but it would be nice to know what the trend has been.

Alex

Paul Brecht , December 25, 2002; 07:47 P.M.

On the "no shutter for eyepiece" critique:

There is a rubber accessory that is attached to the strap that comes with the camera. It is listed in the manual as a clip holder for the flash shoe cap.

In older Maxxum models, they tell you that this accessory is also to cover the eyepiece lens. Simply remove the rubber that comes on the eyepiece originally & slide the clip holder in it's place. It attaches the same way that an anglefinder would...

This came in the instructions for my 450si as the purpose for this accessory was to cover the eyepiece for long exposures, when I read the Maxxum 7 manual, it only refered to it as the clip holder for the shoe...

Hope this helps!

Paul

Thang Hoang , June 11, 2003; 10:20 P.M.

The rubber eyepiece cover is actually a step backwards from the XTsi. I have both the 7 and the XTsi. With the XTsi, you just slip the rubber eyepiece cover on. However, with the 7, you have to remove the rubber ring around the viewfinder.

This is a pain for people who wear glasses. I don't really like pushing my glasses up against a hard surface. The rubber "ring" acts as a nice cushion.

I've had this camera for over a year now and this is the only complaint that I have. That shows how great a camera this is. I use it with a Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 EX DF, Maxxum 50mm f/1.7, Maxxum 100mm macro "D" (awesome lens!!!), and the 5600hs flash.

Flash exposures are dead on. Autofocus is pretty fast with the Sigma and even faster with the 50mm. The DOF scale on the LCD rocks when using "D" lenses and DOF preview.

The weight of the camera helps to balance out the heavy Sigma very well. I got to try a 200mm f/2.8 with 7 and it was incredible. Fast focusing, dead on shots, and incredibly well balanced in my average sized hands.

Gary Friedman , July 27, 2003; 04:59 A.M.


Wireless Flash on the job...

Since writing this initial article, I started to do Wedding Photography in a big way. I have concluded that the Maxxum 7 must have been designed specifically for wedding photography, since over the past 2 months I find that I am liking it even more, and I am becoming more and more disenchanted with my "pro" 9 (my other camera body when shooting weddings). Details? You want DETAILS???

* The 9 is a pain in the ass when mounted on a tripod and taking group shots. Its green viewfinder display is so dim as to be completely unreadable on a bright day, and the eye start (which is also used to turn the green viewfinder display on) doesn't always sense the proximity of eyeglass wearers (this results in the display turning off when you're trying to dial in exposure settings).

* The 7, in contrast, beautifully addresses all these shortcomings. And the viewfinder readout is better for eyeglass wearers as well, since all the information can be found along the bottom. (The 9 has two scales along two edges of the frame - something they copied from Canon. Difficult for eyeglass wearers to see both scales at once.)

* When mounted on a tripod, the 7's rear LCD display makes dialing in a handheld meter reading a delight -- you don't even have to look in the viewfinder (or look at the top, which often is inconvenient or impossible when on a tripod)!

* The 7 focuses faster and more accurately in difficult lighting situations. It has a program shift capability, a feature that disappears from the 9 when you reassign the control wheels.

* The 7 can be configured so it will only autofocus when the rear AF button is pressed (Custom function 23-2). This is an outstanding feature for group shots with a tripod where you just have to focus once and then recompose. (This is MUCH handier than constantly finding and changing the 9's AF/MF switch.) This feature is even handier when shooting vertical with the VC-7.

* With the 7, you can shuttle the film back and forth for in-camera mattes, like a wedding ceremony at the bottom and the outside of the church at the top. This means I can create these in-camera special effects without having to leave the church in the middle of the ceremony.

* The 7 is unbelievably lightweight for everything it packs in - you don't appreciate this unless you're carrying around a heavy camera all day (like the 9, a 28-80 f/2.8 and a flash bracket). I know the psychological rush we all get when handling a heavy, solid camera, but there's no real practical reason for it anymore for most people on most occasions.

* No cords when using a flash bracket - this makes swapping equipment configurations painless. It also allows me to ditch the bracket altogether - I often hold the 7 in one hand and a wireless flash in my left (extended as far above the camera as I can reach). Again the light weight makes it a joy to shoot this way. With the 7 I have a greater range of shutter speed choices to match the ambient light.

* I can shoot an entire wedding with 1 set of AA nicads in my 5600HS flash - no bulky flash, no heavy battery packs to sling over my shoulder, and light output very similar to a Quantum T2 flash. (My only complaint is that the wireless flash doesn't always work outdoors when doing group shots with long lenses. Still have to use a radio slave and a Quantum flash when doing outdoor group shots. But this has little to do with the 7!)

* When mounted to an 80-200 f/2.8 and using the tripod collar, the 7 is small enough that it doesn't interfere with my Manfrotto tripod quick-release mechanism. (The 9 is a different story...)

Well, enough of my soapbox. The more I do this sort of thing for a living, the more I appreciate the brilliance of the 7's user interface nuances. I will stop short of saying that the 7 is the best camera ever made, but all the evidence sure is pointing in that direction. For those of you with a different religious bent who are still skeptical, I recommend borrowing a 7 and a lens or two and start using it day in and day out on your paid shoots, and you'll very quickly see how the camera's user interface can allow you to work faster and with less stress (the kind of stress that's associated with "I wonder if I accidentally left XXX feature on for that shot I just took!"). One look at the back LCD and you'll know instantly if any feature setting is wrong.

-Gary Friedman www.FriedmanArchives.com

Paulo Ogino , October 30, 2004; 03:12 P.M.

This is a comment on my experience with Minolta. I have been a Minolta and Nikon user for about ten years. I've owned the Minolta X-700, then switched to Maxxum 7000 and 9000. I've also been shooting on manual Nikons like FM2N and F series. My last Nikon camera was the superb F4s, even I think it's better in many ways to the F5... well my F4s was stolen (still hurts) and I had to choose a new camera body to work with. After some investigation, I concluded to get a 7. Since my last high performance camera was the F4s, that was my comparison reference. I decided to go for the 7 after reviewing many of its features. It has been a choice I do not regret and it was very rewarding. Comfortable, full featured, silent and user friendly. The only thing I miss is the solid construction of the Nikon, the 7 feels quite plastic, but the advantages are too outstanding. Now If I had to buy another camera besides my 7, it would be the F4s. Or the F6. Think the good Nikons appears in even numbers...

I do architectural photo, portraits, nude and still nature. I think for die-hard field use is not the proper machine, the 9 would be the best chioce if it would have the features of the 7. I think the 9 is like hollywood movies and the 7 is like independent film... just a thought...

Bell, besides, I think the camera doesn't make the picture, it only helps us to do a better job.

Please take a look at my web site: http://www.koph.cl

Thanks!

p.s: now the Minolta Maxxum 7D is on the road!!!!!

Jim Peterson , April 09, 2010; 12:16 A.M.

I love these old threads that haven't been touched for years. Especially when I have something to add!

So, here it is, April of 2010 and I just bought my first 7! Got it yesterday for $55 at a used camera store! And guess what... it's just as good as when Gary first wrote about it. Funny what time does to prices!

frederick Joicey , July 11, 2012; 09:31 A.M.

Just had a quick look through here re the Minolta Dynax/Maxxum 7, and found it very interesting. I have owned the model for 3 years, but now find that the rubber part on the rear of the camera is turning 'sticky'. I think I have posted in photo.net re this, and various other places, hoping for a remedy for the sticky back, but no one has come up with any useful suggestions. From what I have learned it can be a common problem with the 7, yet of all the previous comments in here, not once has it been mentioned or experienced by any of the owners.  The 7 is one of the finest and best 35mm cameras ever produced, and I would not like mine to be consigned to a cupboard.

Andy Fox , August 23, 2012; 05:39 A.M.

Well my Maxxum 7 (Dynax 7 limited edition) HAS been in a cupboard for most of the last 7 years, and unfortunately when I got it out last week to take on a trip, I discovered that mine also has a very sticky rubber back.  The temperature of the cupboard has been very high recently due to a heat wave and our air-con not working upstairs, but even so, I was surprised to see how bad the state of the rubber back was.  Basically it's melted!  So I Googled the problem and arrived here.  I always imagined it would still be in great working condition long after my digital 7D died, but the 7D is still going strong.  I'm sure the 7 will still work fine, but at the moment it looks (from the back) like it's been through several war zones.  I'd never heard of the problem previously.

frederick Joicey , August 23, 2012; 08:40 A.M.

Got your update Andy, and when you said you had googled it and "arrived here", I thought you had found a remedy for the problem, but I now see that the google search led you here.  I still have not had any suggestions as to a solution to the 'stickyness'.  Thought a chemistry expert may have seen the post and offered a suggestion.

Andy Fox , August 26, 2012; 12:55 P.M.

The sticky-back story continues at

 

http://photo.net/sony-minolta-slr-system-forum/00aXdF

patrice strong , August 13, 2013; 07:23 P.M.

I got my Maxxum 7 from ebay new in the box a few years ago.  I put it on the shelf and recently pulled it out and was blown away with the quality of the pics.  I will go back to film because of the cost, but I will pull it out on special occasions.


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