Four 5-Megapixel Cameras In Review

About Speed

For both booting and the time it needs to take a photo, the Dimage 7 is one of the fastest digital cameras around, though it's still far from the immediacy a conventional camera offers. What happens when your dear little nephew starts spontaneously making funny faces? You can't miss out on the chance for a snap, at that very moment. And there you are with your camera hanging round your neck. Booting: 3.5 seconds; Autofocus: 1.5 seconds. So you need 5 seconds for the camera to get ready to shoot. This is not bad, considering that the Coolpix 5000 would still be booting, but it's still much too long when you want to catch a fleeting expression.

In Use

Once you've got it, this is the best feature - we're talking about the 7x wide angle zoom lens. You'll like its focusing system represented by a cross, especially as it can be decentered, using a swivel knob on the back of the camera. And the best surprise comes when you play back the photos - the images are very well defined. The Dimage 7 consistently gave some of the best results, without using any photo editing software. And special mention goes to its highly effective macro mode.

Target Market

It's got the ergonomics of an SLR for the size of a compact. The photos are excellent; the zoom both powerful and bright. However, our enthusiasm is dampened by one thing. There is the problem of power. The 1600 mA batteries supplied by Minolta are not powerful enough. And even with our set of 1750 mA, we often ran dry. This is all the more tiresome because the low battery indicator appears only when it's too late. When it appears, there are usually only about five minutes left, so you never feel at ease with it. This power situation hangs over you like the sword of Damocles. Of course, you could always say that all you need is a set of spares. But the trouble is that this idea takes on huge proportions with this camera. You can't always go around carrying two or three spare sets!