Ah nostalgia, it’s a strange thing and forms a part of every one’s life and the older one gets the more the past seems so rose tinted. My first Digital SLR was a Konica Minolta 7D, bought in 2005 and which I had almost forgotten, but a click here and there lead me to DPReview and the KM Talk Forum, then a thought formed in my mind; why not buy one and use it today?
Having reached middle age I tend to look back with even more fond memories and even more longing which increases week by week, ah those halcyon days! Anyway, I’m mainly a film shooter – having been enjoying a Contax G2 for many years until I foolishly sold it only to watch the prices sky rocket within a few months! I did the same with a Fujifuilm TX II and a Rolleiflex 6008i, now I often search for them on eBay only to see them being more and more unaffordable and unreachable, but 35mm SLR’s are still pretty cheap to buy and the ones I’ve been using for years are a Minolta Maxxum/Dynax 7 and a Contax RTS II.
My search for something to quench this thirst for things from my bygone days lead to me looking at old Digital cameras; dusty forgotten relics of the early CCD era, overlooked and unwanted, gathering dust and mould – and to be found at bargain basement prices.
Now I’m pretty bored of new tech; with smartphones having taken over the compact camera segment and ridiculously priced high tech gazillion megapixel Mirrorless cameras dominating the shrinking camera market, I can’t be bothered even reading reviews or considering one as Photography for the most part depends on the person looking through the viewfinder and pressing the shutter – and with the right light and subject it doesn’t matter if it’s a Medium Format or a Micro 43 being used. It’s all very boring.
Rediscovering the Konica Minolta 7D
The Konica Minolta 7D is a digital version of my Minolta Dynax 7 and I have some decent lenses plus some M42 lenses I use with the adaptor so I wouldn’t have to use my meagre funds in buying some quality glass. I looked on eBay and found one. Boxed with extra batteries, strap and manual for £40 – so I bought it.
When it arrived I was quite amazed at the thought, time and effort Minolta (and Konica) must have put into it’s design and ergonomics – sure it’s very similar to the 35mm Maxxum/Dynax 7 I have but this has a slightly more pleasing form, it has buttons placed where I’d expect them to be and a button our dial for any function I’d want without having to start accessing menus or doing finger gymnastics in trying to get the right button with my eye shoved in the Viewfinder.
I was also pleased with the bright and large (for APSc) viewfinder – it’s only slightly smaller than the one on the 35mm Dynax 7.
I then charged up the batteries, tied on the (Konica Minolta rather than the usual Op/tech USA one I use) strap and went to a friend’s Barbecue, then the following day for a walk around Wivenhoe in Essex with it.
I didn’t care about 6 megapixels and didn’t care about burnt highlights and a lack of dynamic range neither was I concerned about noise and such – I just really really enjoyed and was happy with the feel of it and with just using it and even though I expected the photographs to suffer from what I had described, the experience and joy of shooting with it was more satisfying than the expected results.
Initially I made a few test shots and the in camera Jpegs weren’t all that – I then decided to try and shoot RAW for the first time in my life when I went out to try my luck.
Lightroom 5 on an old Apple Macintosh Pro desktop brought my RAW files to life, I was able to tweak things quite quickly to surmount the shortcomings of the camera’s dated technology and managed to get some very pleasing photographs indeed.
I was so pleased that I decided to take this as my only camera to a 3 week trip to the Punjab, Western Himalaya and Karakoram in Pakistan.
The lenses I had with me to use with the Konica Minolta 7D were the Minolta 50mm f1.4, 24mm f2.8, 100mm f2.8 Macro and 70-210mm f4.The camera performed splendidly – fantastic to hold, grip and shoot with, in sub zero Celsius temperatures and whilst being knocked around, dropped a few times in the mountains and subject to the heat, dust and dirt of The Punjab plains – it never let me down, though some photos do show specks of dust on the sensor (my fault for not cleaning it at all).
The photos had a look and feel to them which I find really attractive, more so than clean higher resolution photos I’ve had with any other Digital camera I’ve shot with (inc various Sony, Olympus, Panasonic and Fujifim digital Mirrorless I’’ve had over the last 10 years).
The heft and size are, I think, Perfect. As a travel camera, the Konica Minolta 7D is large-ish but the confidence I get when holding it and the ease and pleasure of shooting with it left me with absolutely no regrets.
If you haven’t used this before and are a Film shooter, you’ll be very comfortable with it. It requires thought when exposing, especially in tricky light.
I found the centre weighted meter to be great, the matrix multi segment meter was good in even light but the centre wight was more consistent. I tended to switch between the two. I always shoot aperture priority and generally in available light so I had no reason to go over ISO 400. All the shots were handheld and I found the Steady Shot sensor shift stabilisation was very good and helped great deal when I was shooting with the telephoto or in dimmer light.
The Konica Minolta 7D viewfinder as I said above is large and bright, with the information clearly displayed in the viewfinder. The Camera is very satisfying to hold and shoot with.
I think the photos from the Konica Minolta 7D have a look, feel and colour which I find really attractive, more so than clean pin sharp detailed massively higher resolution photos I’ve had with any other Digital camera I’ve shot with (inc various Sony, Olympus, Panasonic and Fujifim digital Mirrorless I’’ve had over the last 10 years).
The Konica Minolta 7D hasn’t quite satisfied me as I’m now on the lookout for other old flames I’ve had but it’ll stay with me and I’ll continue to use it until it eventually gives up on me.
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