Minolta's $165 winner: rock-bottom price plus fantastic features!
1. Bright viewfinder but no built-in diopter correction, lacks Minolta Eye-start automatic camera turn-on
2. Function dial similar to Maxxum 5's; offers an amazing 12 custom functions
3. Ultra-compact, all-polycarbonate body, nearly identical to Minolta Maxxum 5 except plastic lensmount. Important? Not unless you plan on using gigantic supertele or zoom lenses
4. Optional 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 lens kit has no distance or aperture scales. What do you expect for $65?
5. Camera has a built-in data back (but there's a catch to using it). Built-in provision for wireless flash and infrared shutter release
6. Plenty of info here on LCD panel and in viewfinder, but no built-in light on the panel
Very simply put, the Minolta Maxxum 4 is a Maxxum 5 (tested February 2002) but with a few features missing-and others altered-in an identical camera body. Missing are a depth-of-field preview, the Minolta Eye-start system, which automatically activates the camera when it's held to your eye, and the ability to use various Minolta flashes at high speeds. Other changes are diminutions: a three-sensor AF system from seven, 1/2000-sec top speed and 1/90-sec X sync instead of 1/4000-sec with 1/125-sec X sync, a polycarbonate lensmount instead of metal (plastic lensmounts have worked well on all budget SLRs using them), 1.7 fps continuous film advance rather than 3 fps, and 12 custom features rather than 14. Missing functions? The Eye-start system, and the duration of the LED display in the viewfinder.
By "doing without" the above list, you save $30 compared to the Maxxum 5. But the long list of features remaining is sufficiently impressive to consider this the test of a far more expensive SLR than one costing $165. And we've left out some Maxxum 4 features we liked, such as the camera-back lock, which prevents you from inadvertently opening the camera unless it's empty or the film is safely rewound.