Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
Responsive Maxxum 7D exceeds expectations
By Ron Eggers
Once in a while, something lives up to the promotional hype and exceeds expectations. That's the case with the new Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D digital SLR.
The Maxxum 7D is the first digital SLR of the Konica Minolta brand, although there were two previous models from Minolta: the oversized, overweight 1-megapixel RD-175, released when 1 megapixel was still high resolution imaging; and the boxy, awkward 2.7-megapixel DiMAGE RD 3000.
The RD-175 used 35mm Minolta camera lenses; the RD 3000 took lenses designed for Minolta’s Vectis APS SLRs. I shot with both extensively. The image quality was good, particularly for the 3000. But lacking in ergonomics, these models didn't catch on with serious photographers, and Minolta pulled out of the digital SLR race. At that, some Minolta film camera users who were on the brink of going digital shelved the idea, and others switched their entire Minolta system for digital SLRs and lenses from another manufacturer.
I was wary when the new model was announced, but Minolta got it right this time. The Maxxum 7D looks something like a slightly larger version of the original Maxxum 7 35mm camera, and offers a combination of excellent image quality and stylish design. It looks like a professional camera, yet without the bulk and weight of some higher priced DSLRs. This could be the camera that prompts photographers to pull out their Minolta autofocus 35mm lenses once again. It would also be a good choice for photographers who aren’t locked into a particular camera system.
The first thing most users will notice is the camera's responsiveness. Although it’s in the same entry-level professional category as digital SLRs of other makes, it doesn't shoot like an entry-level model. There's very little shutter or focusing lag, and you can continue shooting while the captured images roll off the internal buffer onto the CompactFlash card. The only noticeable delays occurred when the buffer was full, and a couple of times when the camera couldn't seem to lock onto focus; in both instances, the delays were relatively brief.