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A few full-size pictures of mine at
Minolta D7 vs. Kodak DC290
My previous camera was a Kodak DC290, 1792x1200 @ ISO 100, with
Cool New Features
Zoom, Zoom, Zoom: 28-200 is really nice!
Pixels, Pixels, Pixels: With 2560x1920, you can crop quite a
bit and still have plenty of resolution left. Crop to 1600x1200
(about the closest to the DC290) and get the equivalent of a 320mm
zoom; crop to 640x480 for the equivalent of an 800mm lens.
Speed, Speed, Speed: Except for the autofocus, the D7 runs
rings around the DC290 -- even though it's pushing around more than
twice as many pixels. The higher shutter speeds in good light (up to
1/2000 vs up to 1/360, with anything faster than 1/200 needing full
sunlight) and larger aperture at full zoom (f/3.5 vs f/4.7) mean that
I can now freeze action that would have been blurred with the DC290.
Plus, the higher ISO speeds mean I can get shots that were simply
impossible to get with the DC290 due to low light. I think I can now
retire that backup camera loaded with ISO 800 film....
Standard Lens Threads: 49mm threads already included; I had to buy
an adapter to get them on the DC290.
Close Focus: The D7 focuses down to ~12cm from the front of the
lens, the DC290 down to 30cm (11cm with a +7 closeup lens or lens
Good Manual Controls: Lots more than on the DC290, plus one
doesn't have to wade through menus to set things manually....
Things I'll Miss
Automatic Image Rotation: It seems like a little thing, but
never having to rotate an image to get it right-side-up is so
3:2 Aspect Ratio: Let's face it, after more than 20 years of
35mm photography and three years with Kodak DC260 and DC290, I'm used
to the 3:2 aspect ratio.... Besides which, my subjects tend to be even
more elongated than 3:2, so 4:3 will cause additional cropping.
Things The DC290 Has That I Won't Actually Miss
Digita Scripts: It's cool to have the camera run scripts, especially
ones I wrote myself. But it turns out that the only scripts I actually use
- Picture Details: unlike the DC290, the D7 already shows the most
important imaging parameters when you press the up-arrow while in QuickView
or Play. Plus, it shows a histogram, which is something the DC290 can't do
even with an add-on script.
- Storage Status: I use this to count how many pictures are already
on the card, which is info the D7 gives in both QuickView and Play modes.
- Manual Focus: superfluous on the D7 due to the manual focus
ring and through-the-lens focusing.
- Quick Bracketer: also built in to the D7, although my DC290 script
allows asymmetric brackets by "arbitrary" user-selected amounts.
- Startup Defaults: the D7 doesn't forget nearly as many settings
at powerdown as the Kodaks do (though there is that manual-focus-distance
loss on Power Save bug for the D7).
Sound Recording: I've only actually used this feature five or
six times in 12,000 pictures. But it seems silly to have a "movie"
mode without a microphone....
Battery Life: Some people think that the D7 is a real battery
hog, but its power
draw is in fact similar to that of the DC290. The main thing that
sucks down power is the displays; if you run a DC290 with the LCD
turned on, it won't last very long on a set of batteries, either.
Bryan Biggers has a page showing a
day's usage -- 189 pictures on a set of 1600 mAh batteries, which
is roughly what I get out of a set of 1550's with the DC290. I
haven't had my D7 long enough yet to figure out what battery life my
usual usage patterns will get, but a preliminary measurement is now
in: 148 frames plus some LCD usage on a set of Sanyo 1600 mAh
batteries, in two fairly rapid-fire (more so than on a
sight-seeing trip) sessions on successive days totalling 87 minutes.
Suggestions for the next Minolta model
- Add a fourth setting to the effects dial: flash compensation. Allow that
to be bracketed as well as EV, saturation, and contrast.
Ninety-nine percent of the greatest masterpieces in the history of
photography were taken with cameras that are not good enough for
today's rank digital amateur.
-- MIKE JOHNSTON
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(Last updated 31-Oct-01)