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The anti-shake’s in the body!

Who wouldn’t be skeptical? Canon, Nikon, and Sigma have built anti-shake mechanisms into a selected few, expensive lenses. Why should Minolta optical engineers think they could win at the anti-shake game by putting such a device in the digital SLR camera body itself? And have it work with all Minolta mount lenses from 14mm to superteles, including all the zooms? Will it really work? To find out, we got our hands on a pre-preproduction Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D body.

First, we mounted the toughest lens we could get our hands on, the unique 500mm f/8 Mirror Reflex Maxxum AF lens. We handheld it, autofocusing out the window toward distant buildings. What a great finder view-just like the one on the 35mm Konica Minolta Maxxum 7, which shares most of its viewing, autofocusing, and metering systems with this camera.

Yes, the image bounced around. Then we threw on the Maxxum 7D’s Anti-Shake switch and pressed the shutter release. The image shake from the 500mm lens (750mm with the 1.5X 35mm lens factor) visibly quieted. At the same time, an increasing series of bright green LEDs at the left of the finder screen indicated how much Anti-Shake correction was being applied-a very neat feature.

We then tried a popular-focal-length, non-Maxxum zoom lens. Would Anti-Shake work on a 28-200mm f/3.8-5.6 Macro XR Tamron? It did so impressively.

How does Konica Minolta’s body anti-shake compare with that in Canon, Nikon, Sigma lenses? When we have a production 7D, our lab will find out and analyze all of its features. But there are details we know now.

The 23.7×15.6mm CCD sensor has 6.11 million effective pixels that capture a 6MP (3008×2000-pixel) file. JPEG compressions are standard, fine, and extrafine. There’s also a RAW and RAW+JPEG mode, but no TIFF format. Burst capacity planned is 3 fps with nine frames total. Image controls for color space are sRGB, vivid color RGB, and Adobe RGB. The 7D features five levels of correction for sharpness, contrast compensation, and color saturation. It’s also PictBridge enabled.

The camera accepts CF Type I/II cards, and produces up to 500 pictures on a full charge of its lithium ion battery. Shutter speeds planned are 30 to 1/4000 sec with 1/150-sec X-sync plus TTL wireless sync.

Pop-up flash coverage is for lenses 17mm and longer. ISO speed equivalents are from 200 to 1600 with 3200 possible. White balance for specific light sources can be preset, manually set, or dialed in degrees Kelvin.

The 35mm Maxxum 7’s front infrared AF assist has been abandoned in favor of a preflash in the pop-up flash head. Konica Minolta claims that without it, the AF sensitivity in low light will reach down to -6 BV! (Are brightness values the same as EV? Our tests will show.)

The 7D has a built-in intervalometer with 1¼2- to 60-sec intervals and up to 200-plus frames.

More good news: the street price of the Maxxum 7D body is expected to be between $1,300 and $1,400. Availability: October. For further info: www.minoltausa.com; 877-462-4464.