Four 5-Megapixel Cameras In Review

The Cameras

Minolta Dimage 7

The Dimage 7 was the first digital camera to have a 5 megapixel CCD sensor. Its design is certainly original, with that little futuristic something making it look a bit gimmicky. But don't be deceived by appearances - inside its metal and plastic body is a very efficient digital camera.

A Unique Design

Usually, you need to go into menus and subdirectories to change settings like white balance, sensitivity and resolution, but Minolta provides these options with a special jog-dial on the side of the camera. This is particularly appropriate for the camera's system: everything runs smoothly. The first notch is used to set the image size; the second sets the format and compression level; the third accesses the P, A, S and M modes; the fourth adjusts speed; and the fifth, white balance. The sixth and final notch sets the sensitivity (ISO 100 to 800). To change any of the settings, turn the dial, press the button in the middle and then, with the right hand, choose the required setting by turning another dial on the right of the shutter release.

The zoom ring can also be rotated. The Minolta engineers had the very good idea of opting for a ring that is much easier to use than the Nikon and Sony controls. Here, the very wide angle zoom is controlled at the end of the lens. The Minolta is a hybrid camera with the size of a compact and the focusing mode of an SLR. The viewfinder is electronic. It doesn't give a view of outstanding quality, but at least the area it reads is the same as the one captured. The optical viewfinder cameras we tested (Coolpix 5000 and E-20) cannot claim as much. Note that the viewfinder can be turned vertically to 90°.

The main jog-dial on top is used to boot and to select recording, playback, video and PC connection modes.

Then, there are two more dials. The one on the left is used to adjust the image and colors (contrast, exposure and saturation). The one on the back beside the viewfinder sets the focus to electronic viewfinder or TFT monitor.