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Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D Review - Retro Fun!


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Going back in time, let’s hear a tale of a fateful potential purchase. It was 2005, I was looking to finally ready to go from shooting film to shooting digital.

I did a lot of research and was getting ready to make a final decision. Even back then, camera gear was expensive, especially good ones that were worth anything. I had looked at all that was out there and I narrowed down the choices to Nikon and Konica Minolta (KM).

 

The KM was a known brand, had a lot of quality lenses and we had the 5D and 7D models which were released in September of 2004. The big thing was the new technology of including Anti-Shake (AS) in the camera body. Every lens would benefit from stabilization, not just the ones that were included in the lens. Seeing everything that KM had to offer – I started saving up to buy into that system.

 

I was probably about 2 weeks away from pulling the trigger on making a stop at the local camera store and making the purchase, when the announcement was made that Sony was buying the KM photography business. I respect Sony, but my problem with them is that I saw them as a technology company first and a photography company secondary.

Pulling back, I changed my strategy and went with Nikon instead.

 

Given that, you always wonder if you missed out on something when you make these kinds of decisions. I couldn’t afford to buy both – so the KM cameras left my thoughts for a while. Behold…I walk into a local camera store in 2022 and what do I see sitting in a display case, but the KM Maxxum 7D and an accompaniment of lenses!

The camera body is in excellent shape and the price on the lenses and body are too good to pass up. The body was $150 and lenses were $40 each. They are a fraction of what they were used…so I treat myself to the experience of what it would have been like to have gone with that system over the Nikon.

 

For this article, we have the following gear:

  • Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
  • Maxxum 20mm f/2.8 AF
  • Maxxum 50mm f/1.7 AF
  • Maxxum 70-210mm f/4 AF – The “Beer Can” lens
     

For comparison, we will be comparing not only to modern cameras, but also to the Fuji S2 Pro which is a camera that is very similar and was a competitor to this camera at the time.

Disclaimer – sample images represent was is possible to get from this specific camera and lenses used. The images are not straight from camera JPG and have most likely been post processed in Lightroom or other software to get them to the vision I wanted.

 

Body

 

Picking up this body, you feel the quality construction right off the bat. It feels good in the hand. It doesn’t feel as comfortable as the Fuji S2 Pro did, but that body was a bit bigger as well. The KM 7D does still feel like it was molded after your hand! Your thumb naturally falls to the grippy pad next to the focus selector buttons and right below the rear command dial. Your index finger drops naturally to the shutter release.

 

Your thumb can very naturally reach the AEL button for those that like to employ back button focusing.

 

One could be intimidated by the vast array of buttons on this camera. To get to 99% of what you need requires no menu diving. For the time I’ve been using the camera, I setup the camera how I wanted it and have only gone into the menus for formatting memory cards and changing the file save types.

 

The power switch is not around the shutter release, but instead can be found as a switch to the left rear of the camera next to the viewfinder.

The camera uses CF memory cards and I will be testing this camera with a Verbatim 2 GB card.

 

Dials. There are 4 dials on the top of the camera, stacked into 2’s and one set on either side of the viewfinder/built in flash hump.

 

To camera left and on top of the stack, you have the exposure compensation dial. This is unique in that there are 2 sets of settings. One set goes from +- 2 stops in 1/3 increments and the other side of the dial goes from +- 3 stops in 1/2 increments.


On the bottom part of the stack is a flash compensation dial that goes +- 2 stops in 1/2 increments.

 

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Now moving to the right side of the top deck, you have the top of the stack PASM dial. This also includes a “full auto” P mode along with a traditional P mode and 3 user customizable settings. The bottom of the stack dial is your drive settings. There you’ll find single and continuous for bracketing, single shot, continuous shot and a timer setting for 10 and 2 seconds respectively.

 

Just to the right of the stacked dials is the White Balance settings selector.

 

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The rest of the buttons on the rear of the camera comprise of (from the left side) menu, display, magnify, delete and play.

 

Moving to the right, there is a switch for picking the metering type you want, the auto exposure lock button and an AF/MF quick toggle. The quick toggle is nice because it is camera setting dependent. What that means is that if you have the front focus selector dial set to auto focus – you press the AF/MF button and it switches to MF for the next shot, then back to AF. If the focus selector is set to manual focus, pressing the AF/MF button will give you auto focus for the next shot – then back to MF.

 

Below those, is the auto focus selector and a toggle switch to go between camera selected auto focus point and user selected auto focus point.

The MSET button is used to map the current settings to user slot 1,2,3.

 

ISO is changed using the menu. First press the ISO button then a sub command dial to cycle through AUTO, 100,200,400,800,1600, or 3200 ISO. I did notice that there is no way to set 1/3 ISO stops, but in ISO AUTO, the camera can use them.

 

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Moving to the front of the camera, there is a lens release button, a depth of field preview on the side of the camera mount, and a focus mode selector switch. This switch has single, continuous, ‘auto’ which lets the camera analyze the subject and pick to use single or continuous AF and then manual mode.

 

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Shutter Release – The shutter release has a positive feel between activating the auto focus and actuating the shutter. It has a very soft feel down to focus actuation, then a positive stop. You can feel a positive click between when focus is activated and then just a little more pressure gives you an actuation of the shutter. I had no problems adjusting to it and did what I needed when I needed it. During the time of this review, the Ohio weather is cold an wet, so wearing gloves is common. Had zero issues handling this camera.

 

Rear LCD – This is a one, 2.5″ LCD DSLR. It has a decent size display. I would not count on it to be able to check critical focus and I didn’t find it very accurate to how images looked when downloaded to the computer for review.
KM uses this also for showing shooting information. There are 3 modes, with the most info, one with slimmed down info and then off mode. The rear LCD will automatically turn off when you raise the camera to your eye to use the viewfinder.

 

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Flash

This being considered a high end DSLR at the time of release, it is unusual to have a built in flash unit. I really am not one to use the built in flashes, unless they are capable of being commanders for other off camera flash units. I’ll probably never use this flash unit. It also has your standard hot shoe.

Viewfinder

 

The viewfinder is optical and compared to more modern cameras is rather good, honestly. I found it very bright with the attached lenses and was able to easily see all I needed to see for taking images and seeing the shooting info at the bottom. The only thing missing is the ISO used currently, which seems an odd omission. The coverage is 95%, so you will get a little bit more in your final image than what you see in the viewfinder.

 

Weather Sealing

Honestly not sure about the weather sealing on this camera, but given it’s status at the time, I’m sure there might be some…but I do not intend on bringing this into a downpour.

 

Lens Line Up
Any a-mount lenses from Minolta or Sony should work. I could not find any reference anywhere that stated an incompatible list of lenses for it. Since the a-mount has been abandoned, I am finding that there are a lot of inexpensive but high quality lenses available.

 

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Performance


Overall System Performance
Do not expect this camera to be a speed shooter. AF is going to be limited by the type of lens you attach. With that being said – yes, these lenses are not Nikon AF-S or newer mirrorless lens fast, but they had no problems getting street shots.

 

Power on is instantaneous, diving into the menus was quick and speedy. Image review was quick as well and outclassed the Fuji S2 Pro’s performance in this area.

 

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Autofocus
AF Point Selector

One of the unique points to this camera is how you select the AF points. For example, Nikon cameras or the Fuji S2 Pro use the selector to cycle through the points. KM goes slightly different in that you have 9 points. You choose which point by clicking the selector in that direction. So if you want the center point, click down on the center button in the selector and if you want to pick the point at the 10/11 o’clock position, you would press down on the left top part of the selector between left (9 o’clock) and the top (12 o’clock).

 

Once I got used to it, it was a rather intuitive way to pick the AF point you wanted.

 

Commenting on the focus selector switch at the front of the camera…I’m not a fan of the type of dial used here. I found it hard to switch between the modes. I would have preferred a toggle or some other style than the rotary dial.

 

Single Point

The auto focus performance here is , as stated previously – limited very much by the individual lens attached. All the a-mount lenses I currently have are older Maxxum lenses that use screw drive to turn the AF gears inside the lens. In good to moderate lighting, the camera did well, with minimal hunting.

 

Continuous

Not sure how valuable this might be.

AF-A (Single/Continuous Auto)

I did not use this as I want to control when I use either single or continuous.

 

Manual Focus

I will use manual focus on occasion, but usually only with adapted manual focus lenses. I will also comment that the manual focus on these lenses appears to be an afterthought as the rings are very thin and not the best to find and use.

 

An interesting design choice – you can hear what I believe to be the screw drive pin retract when going from AF to MF on the dial. This is a departure from others that chose to just disengage the gears within the body.

 

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Battery and Battery Life
NP-400 batteries are used for this camera. I believe i read somewhere that it is CIPA rated for 200 shots. I have probably taken around 300 shots and the battery has not even registered away from full. I do leave the camera powered on in between shots as well and did chimp a little from time to time.

 

When it gets colder, battery life also suffers. Last outing with the camera it was around 34F and using third party batteries, the camera lasted for 120 shots. Not sure if this is normal (probably not) but the battery reports 100% capacity and then just dies without warning or indication that it is depleted. Most likely a fault of the non-OEM battery. No matter, as I got a few extras and can keep them on me.

 

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Stabilization (IBIS/AS)
Not sure how well I can quantify the effects of the KM Anti-Shake (AS) technology. Others have done quantitative test for it, so they may be a better source. I will do some more extensive tests on it, but have been shooting in good light so far so have not “needed” it. Anecdotally, I believe I’ve read that I believe it is rated up to 4 stops, but could be wrong.

 

I did get a chance to test this in a low light restaurant. The image immediately below was with AS Active. That is the correct EXIF data! Could be a fluke…but it is what it is. You do lose some detail shooting at ISO 400, but I have to admit this is pretty good. The lens is the Minolta 70-210mm f/4. Hand held. I did have one elbow resting on a table.

 

According to the manual, there are times when the anti shake will be disabled like when shooting bulb mode.

 

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Ergonomics
For me, the size of a camera is important. There is a point of diminishing returns on size. You can only go so small before the controls are hard to reach and the camera is difficult to hold.

 

Feel in The Hand

I already mentioned that the camera feels solid. If a camera is too small it is hard to get to the buttons that are on the camera body. This camera feels very good to me. Not as good as the Fuji S2 Pro did, but better than a lot of modern mirrorless cameras that can be way too small or not have enough hand grip to feel safe/confident in holding them. This will do just fine.

 

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Image Quality
I’ve always liked the output from the CCD sensors. I find the colors rich and contrast strong. The CCD weakness is sensor noise, even at base ISO and it only gets worse the higher up you go. I did like the JPG output from the KM Maxxum 7D and it also worked well in processing RAW files. All RAW files I worked on in Lightroom Classic were easy to process and using modern sharpening tools, were very crisp and clean.

 

For JPG, I did customize the settings a bit.

 

Natural +

Saturation = +1
Sharpness = +1

 

I feel that I can get the best out of this setup by shooting RAW and processing in Lightroom. That is most likely the future for this camera.

Please, enjoy the image samples through out the review.

 

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A Note About The Lenses
I did a bit of research before going back to the camera store. Having zero experience with any A-Mount lenses, I was at a bit of a disadvantage knowing what would be a good deal and a good performer. Luckily, my research paid off and they had some of the higher regarded lenses. Not all of what I would have picked, but enough to make a compelling kit to start off with. Will do a more intense deep dive into each lens in its own review, but here are initial impressions.

 

Minolta 20mm f/2.8 AF
I wanted something relatively wide and this hits that mark. 20mm of APS-C gives you a 30mm field of view and a nice f/2.8 aperture to play with.

 

The auto focus was fast, but I had some instances where the focus was a little off. I need more time with this lens to see if it is an issue with the lens or the camera AF system or my choice of subjects. We are talking an older camera here, so the ability for it to focus and the number of cross type focusing points is most likely limited to the center point. It is a smallish prime lens and it came with a lens hood, so all is good there.

 

Further testing and comparing the RAW and JPG files – the 20mm seems to have worse acuity and sharpness in the JPG, where as the RAW appears better. When I processed the RAW file from Lightroom only, the detail and sharpness were far superior. This is different than the 50mm and 70-210, whose JPG can rival the RAW processed file.

Minolta 50mm f/1.7 AF


Everything I could find said that if you want a 50mm in a-mount, get the 50mm f/1.4 AF. They did not have one and research led me to believe that the 50mm f/1.7 was pretty close.

Have to say that I was not disappointed! There are some statue portraits above, shot wide open at f/1.7 that are pretty close to the samples that I took at f/2.8 and f/4 in terms of sharpness. At a field of view of 75mm on the KM 7D camera, this is a moderate telephoto framing for me and something I appreciate as tend to favor the longer end of the focal ranges.

 

Auto focus is fast, colors and contrast are very well done. I like this lens a lot and will use it frequently.

 

Minolta 70-210mm f/4 AF -a.k.a. “The Beer Can”
Liking telephotos, and hearing good things about this lens – and it having a constant f/4 aperture really appealed to me. Having a field of view of 105mm to 315mm is an exciting proposition for me. I had just hoped that it would be relatively well behaved. I’ve had experience with Nikon AF-D lenses in the same focal range like the 70-210/4 and the 70-210/4.5-5.6 (both AF-D). That is the benchmark that the Minolta lens would be put against.

 

I like the lens and it is fast to focus. I like that it is internally zooming – so the length of the lens doesn’t change from 70mm to 210mm.

One slight downfall I did find is that the lens does tend to bloom a little in certain lighting conditions at f/4. I was able to reign that in in post a bit and noticed that it controls it via the hardware if I stop down to f/5.6

 

All in all, though – the lens performs well with excellent sharpness and good color rendition and contrast. I’m very happy with this lens overall, but would say that the legacy Nikon lenses best it ever so slightly in a few areas and this lens beats the Nikon’s in a few areas as well.

 

Final Thoughts
First, let me say that I did not NEED this camera. It is fun to experiment, even with older equipment! The price was right to take a gamble too! I’ve always wanted to see what I may have been missing back in the early 2000’s when I was getting ready to make the switch to digital from film.

 

All I know is that I thoroughly am enjoying using this camera and finding some gem vintage Minolta Maxxum A-Mount lenses for a decent price is a fun adventure as well.

I just lucked out getting this camera and lenses, but honestly recommend checking it out if you are looking for something that is a bit of a throwback, but still a capable casual shooter.

 

Some additional images for your viewing pleasure!

 

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See my content here:

http://www.visualohio.com | BESTLIGHTPHOTO BLOG | 500px Profile & Pics

 

I shoot Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax and Leica.  Probably not enough!  LOL

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Fantastic! What a bargain and it’s very evident that in your hands the camera is still capable of producing excellent work. 

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An interesting exercise and from viewing the resulting images on the web, you certainly can’t tell the age of the camera.  
 

Your comment about the battery going from 100% to empty in the cold sounds about right.  I don’t think the batteries are faulty.  Probably more about the time it takes them to loose any warmth they had before you headed outside.

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Edited by Andrew L (gryphon1911)

See my content here:

http://www.visualohio.com | BESTLIGHTPHOTO BLOG | 500px Profile & Pics

 

I shoot Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax and Leica.  Probably not enough!  LOL

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