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Old May 26, 2004, 6:55 AM   #1
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I've been doing some serious research concerning digital cameras (it'skilling me :?).

I almost went on buying s7000 but then I was offered a used (about 1 year old) Minolta 7Hi. Couple of things are bothering me, most of all the image quality. I really love the s7000 colour saturation and balance, and I'm convinced that it would be a great choice especially considering the price. Of course the compression issues are somewhat negative but ever so.

The 7Hi has a great deal of nice pro-like features including manual zoom, burst mode and so on. But the picture quality does not seem to be as good as in the s7000. They look a little flat to me. 7Hi does offer good choice of picture modes (mildly compresses JPEG and uncompressed TIF, RAW). And the Adobe RGB feature sounds nice as well.

Am I able to get as good pictures with 7Hi that with s7000? How about in RAW mode? At least the noise can be removed with post processing but how about everything else?

The cost for the used 7Hi (inc. 256mb card, new batteries+charger, bag) is about 2/3 of the new s7000.

Thanks in advance,

Ville




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Old May 26, 2004, 9:13 AM   #2
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It really depends on what you plan on doing with your images as to which one might be best for you. Doing my own site, I've tried a few of these cameras, and have more of an opportunity of comparing side-by-side than some folks, and I'm not under deadlines like bigger reviewers like some others are to return sample cameras.

Image quality from the 7Hi is better (IMHO). I have a S7000 and the compression and lack of compression choices was a huge error on Fuji's part regarding this model. Most cameras have a "good/better/best" or "normal/fine" setting, but the S7000 does not. It only offers normal/fine/RAW in it's interpolated 12MP size. The rest are compressed fairly heavily - close to the "normal" on other cameras.

That being said, the Fuji images do have punch when it comes to color (nice). On-screen or in prints up to 5 x 7, the images look incredibly good. At 8 x 10, they still fall into the "good" category, but when I printed them out at 11 x 14 and higher, the effects of the jpg compression could be seen and details broke up much more than they should on a good 6MP (or 12MP) camera. Shooting in RAW and converting will help noise a little - but remember, the 12MP RAW is again, interpolated on the S7000. They really should have offered a RAW at the 6MP native resolution in order to bring out the best in the images.

With current rebates and clearance sales, you can in some areas pick up a S7000 for $445.00 (after rebates). For this price, it is not a bad camera. If the best you can find is $699 in your area as some retailers are still selling it for then no, you can do better in that price range.


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Old May 26, 2004, 9:27 AM   #3
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I first had the 7HI. It was a poor quality camera. The flash was week, about every action shot in the auto action mode was blurry. For that matter many shots were out of focus. Minolta support was very disappointing. I have had numerous different digicams and the Minolta was the worst.

As for image noise, Minolta had much more than the Fuji. I took some 12mp S7000 shots and then resized them to 6MP and compared them to the 5MP Dimage and they were much better with a lot more detail. I will be glad to post some examples if you would like them. The Fuji's auto modes also work great. The action shot mode captures good images, when going to manual settings and Shutter priority, you also get great action pictures. For portraits of the family, the Minolta almost always showed only dark spots for the brown colored eyes with the attached flash. The Fuji showed the deep brown color of the eyes.

I really like my S7000. And there are a lot of other good digicams out there that have equally good image quaility. I had a Canon G5 which I really liked however many images had purple fringe and it had some redeye issues with the flash being so close to the lense but the images were crisp.
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Old May 26, 2004, 11:29 AM   #4
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I don't have a Fuji so I can only compare by reviews and sample pictures. If you look at the blow-ups in this review it seems the only way to get a really good image from the 7000 is to shoot in the very large 12Mp upsampled raw. http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/fu..._s7000-review/ The Fuji will buffer the first raw shot so you can shoot two in reasonably fast succession, but after that there is a wait. If you don't shoot in raw you are subject to the extreme JPG compression that atlantareg mentioned. The 7Hi has a better buffer and smaller raw files, so you can use raw mode in action situations more often as it will buffer 5 raw shots.

With the same aperture and shutter range the two cameras have to be about the same in capturing sports action. Freezing action is a matter of how much shutter speed you can generate in a given lighting situation with a given ISO. The 7Hi probably has more physical controls than any digital camera including DSLRs, which makes for a longer learning curve. I personally prefer that, but it does take a while to learn to use it.

The D7 series was noisier than most cameras with the same sensor. It doesn't show much at normal screen sizes or in prints up to 8 X 10 unless you use higher ISO. For large prints or extreme crops I use Neat Image with all of my cameras. The cognoscenti claim there is a tradeoff with in-camera noise reduction and the D7 series gave better images because of less noise reduction. I couldn't see that in cameras with the same sensor and wished Minolta had done a little better job with the noise. Other than higher noise I think the image quality is excellent – at least on my D7i.

The wide angle on the Minolta is very useful, and I really like the manual zoom compared to electric. Try upping the saturation a little in the Minolta and see if the images aren't more pleasing to you. I shoot with minimum sharpening and contrast in all of my cameras so I am accustomed to flat images from the camera. I have an action I run that tweaks them up, but keep the originals separate for any post processing I want to do.

I've had the D7i for a couple of years now and taken thousands of shots with it. It produces the best overall quality of any of my 4 digital cameras and it is rare to get a poor shot with it. Either host got a bad camera or didn't have the patience for the admittedly long learning curve. I agree that the flash isn't as strong as the S7000. The Minolta is about average where the Fuji has an exceptionally strong built-in flash. If you want good flash pictures you need an external unit with any camera. The Fuji takes exceptionally good 640 X 480 movies at 30fps. The Minolta doesn't come close for movies.

One feature I like on the Minolta is the continuous focus mode. I have two cameras with it and two without. With continuous focus you get nearly 100% of your shots of people or kids in random motion in good focus. Without it I get a lot of blurred subjects – especially with rugrats. You can also pre-focus and hold it until you want to take the shot regardless of subject motion. The Minolta also has flex focus and you have to pay attention in the viewfinder to what it is focused on. It puts a little symbol where it is focused and you sometimes have to move it. I take most of my pictures with auto-focus and it is rare to get one out of focus.
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Old May 26, 2004, 12:28 PM   #5
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After analyzing some pic galleriesone thing I'venoticed is that 7Hi picturesdon't seem to come out as sharp as pics taken with S7000. Pics taken with 7Hi seem to be kind of blurry compared to s7000 (on the pc screen).In some reviews they noted thatlens of the 7Hi is high quality and sharp but on the other hand there has been mentions that the resolution is below average for an 5MP camera.

I don't know how much the downsizing is affectingto picture quality seen in aPC monitor, but still - from my point of viewthe s7000 pictures look excellent, very detailed and nicely saturated (thanks to super CCD?)

One thing I like inthe s7000 is that the12MP resolution makes heavy cropping possible - like an extra zoom :idea:Very useful when you're taking pictures, for example in an fast icehockey game.
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Old May 26, 2004, 12:42 PM   #6
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host wrote:
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I will be glad to post some examples if you would like them.

It would be really interesting to see the difference.Can you send them to me by email: [email protected]

thanks
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Old May 26, 2004, 1:49 PM   #7
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While surfing I happened to find my way into this article

http://www.linaeum.com/productinfo/d...are/index.html

Can't help wondering same thing with s7000?Is the 12MP actually more than just a simple interpolation from 6MP.
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Old May 26, 2004, 2:43 PM   #8
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This is a crop from Steve's standard sample photos of the brick building. The Fuji image is a 6Mp (17+Mb decompressed) and the Minolta a 5Mp(14.1Mb). I blew up sections of several of his sample photos of standard scenes and the results were always the same – the D7Hi images were always sharper.

FUJI S7000:



Minolta D7Hi:



I think a lot of that is because of the high compression Fuji uses. The Minolta 5Mp file is a 3.5Mb JPG and the Fuji is a 6Mp 1.5Mb JPG. That is extra fine on the Minolta which is a very high quality JPG. Even the fine images at 2.5Mb are much better – it is hard to tell the difference between fine and extra fine. The lower artifacts would likely show up in post processing though.

The 12Mp raw is upsampled. Every reviewer who has taken the time to check says that an image editor or even the Lanczos filter in the free Irfanview will do at least as good a job on upsample as Fuji does in-camera. They can only check it with JPG of course, but I don't see where it would be any different with raw. It seems silly to have to wait for a 13Mb write for every shot when you could just upsample the odd shot you want to print in a large format. It also seems silly to take the extra space on the card and to store the raw files on CD or the hard drive.

A significant difference between the D7i and the Hi is that the Hi has the big buffer. I found I lost too many shots waiting for raw to cycle and usually shoot in best JPG. You might have the same experience with the Fuji. I would shoot only in raw if I had a Hi.

The raw mode on the Minolta is inefficient. A 5Mp raw file is 9.5Mb. They improved that with the A1/A2. The 7Hi will still buffer 5 raw shots. Few cameras will do that.
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Old May 26, 2004, 3:19 PM   #9
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slipe wrote:
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I blew up sections of several of his sample photos of standard scenes and the results were always the same – the D7Hi images were always sharper.

...I think a lot of that is because of the high compression Fuji uses.
Well, I think your analyze only shows how agressive the s7000 jpg compression is.

I would think the best way to compare these two camerasis to take

- 12MP RAW (or JPG FINE) picture with the s7000 and then downsize it to 6MP

- 5MP RAW (or JPG FINE or TIFF) with the 7Hi

and then crop and compare the sharpness. This way you get to evaluatethe best picture quality both cameras have to offer (that is without jpeg compression artifacts).
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Old May 26, 2004, 4:02 PM   #10
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If your experience is the same as mine you will shoot a lot of JPG. Waiting for a raw write causes you to lose a lot of shots in any dynamic situation. The 5 shot buffer in the 7Hi would probably be sufficient for most situations.

You say you have compared sample shots and the Fuji shots were always sharper. You must have a source for raw sample shots as the JPGs definitely aren't sharper.

You would probably get a fairer comparison if you upsampled the Minolta raw images to 12Mp. Don't use a simple upsample but a good filter like bicubic in Photoshop or Lanczos in Irfanview. There are better filters, but those are pretty good. Qimage evidently has a new filter that is good. A lot of people swear by Genuine Fractals. I often use stair interpolation for upsample.

A 12Mp image converted at 16 bit is going to take a LOT of RAM to work with. If you have a Gig of RAM, don't run much while you are working and assign extra RAM to Photoshop it should be OK. Seems silly to have the camera upsample it to 12Mp and then downsample to work with it. That is 2 unnecessary resamples. 5 or 6 Mp will do an excellent 11 X 14 and a decent 13 X 19. I don't understand Fuji's thinking both in the high JPG compression and in the upsampled raw.
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