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Old 10-30-2002, 06:30 PM   #1
Will Enns Will Enns is offline
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Minolta DiMAGE 7 camera




Perhaps I can make a contribution to this Forum, in return for all the help I have gotten here!

I just bought a Minolta DiMAGE 7 digital camera, and I would like to share my findings. I hope to use it to generate reference photos for portraiture, and to digitize my paintings for web use.

The DiMAGE is a 5.2 megapixel camera with 7X zoom lens (equals 28-200mm zoom in 35mm film.) It can be as automatic or as manual as you like. To find out more about the strengths and weaknesses of the camera, here is a comparison review between the DiMAGE 7 and Nikon 990, prepared by a person who has owned both.
DiMAGE 7 - Nikon 990 comparison

Why did I choose this camera? I walked into London Drugs to browse the digitals, and this was their last floor model of the now-discontinued DiMAGE 7. It had been priced down to $1100 CDN, then the manager dropped it to $900 CDN (about $600 US) to get me to take it. This camera has one major shortcoming that I'm aware of. It uses lots of batteries. As far as I can tell at this time, you get about 1 hour of picture-taking and uploading on a charge. That can be frustrating.

The largest image the camera can generate is 1920 x 2560 pixels. Here is a photo I took today of my wife Dolly at full resolution. I shrunk it so you can see the whole picture, but the following message will have a close-up cropped from the full-sized shot.
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Old 10-30-2002, 06:31 PM   #2
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Closeup

Here is the close-up, without any enhancement. The image was taken from about 8 feet away. You will notice that individual hairs can be seen.

The image was captured with the camera on a tripod, ISO 100, natural light from a patio door with a white reflector to lighten shadows. The patio door was opposite the sun.

The color temperature was arrived at by using the camera's white balance custom setting. This can be done by holding a white sheet of paper in front of the lens in the white balance 'set' mode. This feature seems very useful in a setting like my 'photo-studio,' where there is too much colored light bouncing around - yellow from the floor, green from the walls, red from my bad temper. I can imagine the color would be even better in a neutral setting. The color has not been adjusted in any way.

The review at the link above covers most questions about this camera. If there is something I can answer beyond that, please send me a note via email.

Aside from the battery issue, I think I will be very happy with it.
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Old 10-31-2002, 12:24 PM   #3
Jim Riley Jim Riley is offline
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Will,

Thanks for your post. I bought a DiMage 5 nearly a year ago and had previous experience with a CoolPix 950. The review site you posted was thorough and very helpful. It didn't argue any of the differences that I had experienced. I still have problems when shooting finished paintings and find that highlights and the lightest skin tones tend to wash out even though I reduce contrast to -3. It is fortunate that I never had any inclination to earn a living as a photographer.

I am aware that the DiMage7 has additional features but fail to understand why the picture quality would differ. Or does it mean that I simply will be unable to get larger pictures at the best resolutions?
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Old 10-31-2002, 01:00 PM   #4
Will Enns Will Enns is offline
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D7-D5

Jim,

My first attempt at photographing a painting was abysmal. I finally understood that the problem was white balance (WB.) None of the camera's default settings worked to get it right, but the D7 has the WB custom set option, and that worked to set things straight as described in the second post. Minor adjust may be needed, but it wasn't far off.

I just checked another comparison review I saw and it seems the D5 also has this WB custom set option. Why don't you try that?

Below is a painting I photographed using the WB custom setting with daylight through a window. It is very close to the original in color and contrast.

As to your question about picture quality, it means simply that at a given zoom setting, you won't get as much detail - 2056x1544 pixels versus 2560x1920 pixels. To put it another way, if you wanted the same level of detail as the D7 on a certain portion of the frame, you would have to sacrifice 504 pixels from the length and 376 pixels from the width of the photo.
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Old 11-01-2002, 12:32 AM   #5
Jim Riley Jim Riley is offline
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Will,

Thanks again. I intend to try the custom setting soon on a painting that has given me trouble. Do I lose pixels for all size settings or only for the largest? My instruction manual seems to indicate the three lower settings as the same for the 7 and the 5.
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Old 11-01-2002, 01:47 AM   #6
Will Enns Will Enns is offline
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Just so, Jim.

You don't actually 'lose' any pixels with your D5, you just don't have the 5 mega pixel resolution available.

To tell you the truth, I'm wondering if the extra makes a whole lot of difference unless you're trying to print a poster. It will certainly never make a difference for any application where you're viewing your shot onscreen.
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Old 03-20-2003, 10:31 AM   #7
Chantal Faurer Chantal Faurer is offline
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Lag Time Between Shots

Hi Will,

I recently purchased a Minolta Dimage 7i which I believe is the next step up from the 7 but very similar. I've been testing the camera out in preparation for a photo shoot I have scheduled next week: I'm really happy with the results I'm getting from the full resolution TIFF files, but there is a really long lag time between shots! I tried experimenting with RAW files because I was told in a camera store that they would take less time, but they seemed to take just as long, so now I'm looking at the quality level of jpegs because they're so fast.

I am curious to know if you have had any experience with this issue; also, if you are taking manual light readings of your subjects, do you find that the camera is giving an accurate reading, or do you need to adjust for less or extra time (for example, opening up a stop)? I am taking black and white images and using the spot meter.

If you have any advice, it would be great! Thanks!
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Old 03-20-2003, 03:10 PM   #8
Will Enns Will Enns is offline
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Buffers

Chantal,

The reason you are experiencing this lag time is a tiff file totally fills the camera's memory buffers. It has to write all that data to the memory card before you can take another picture. Depending on the brand of memory card, this can take more than a minute. At full resolution, the tiff is about 14 megs of data; the same raw file is 9.5 megs; the same jpg file at highest quality is 2.1 megs; at lowest quality is .65 megs. With mine, I can take 3 best quality jpg consecutive shots before the camera slows down.

The difference between the tiff and best jpg is scarcely noticable, although you can spot it if you take the same reference shot from a tripod, then zoom in past full size. You should do this in order to see the difference for yourself.

I don't take manual light readings, I use the exposure bracketing instead and let the camera do work out exposure details. To do otherwise is like manualy shifting a car with an automatic transmission. (After setting 'drive' to 'bracket,' hold shutter down until three frames are exposed. Bracketing can be set from 1/3 - 1 full f-stop.)

You have to remember proper exposure is subjective, and depends on what you want to see in the photo.

It also helps achieve detail in high/low-value areas to reduce the contrast (in the camera, before taking picture.)

I would be interested in seeing something from your photo-shoot. Maybe you could post something in the photo critiques section.
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Old 03-24-2003, 02:38 AM   #9
Chantal Faurer Chantal Faurer is offline
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Will, thanks for the help and advice. I did further experimentation and the highest jpeg quality is looking pretty good to me- especially since the photo shoot I'm preparing for is of a 4 year old girl. With the level of restlessness I'm expecting from her, 10-14 seconds of dead time between shots is definitely not what I want. It's funny, but I had never really thought about the particular problem of "lag time" until I got the camera home, despite all the research I had done.

When I get a chance to catch up with myself (time is an issue with completing this commission) I will post some images from the photo shoot in the critique section.
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