Known Bugs and Firmware suggestions:
My hope is that someone from Minolta who cares will eventually see this list. Some of the changes appear to be minor and could go a long way towards making the Dimage 7 a better camera. I do not know if Minolta will ever consider any firmware upgrades, but it sure would sell cameras and make a lot of people happy. People want to feel that when they buy an expensive camera that the company cares about them. I would personally never buy a camera that did not have user upgradable firmware, and I have been VERY pleased by the way that Nikon has made firmware upgrades available for their cameras. Let's hope that Minolta will turn out to be a good company.
This is version number 19 of this list. Updated on Feb. 3, 2002
Newest problem with firmware 121: Firmware 121 apparently disables noise reduction feature on long exposures.
Problem with firmware 121: Can't focus in low light in manual mode with new 121 firmware and flash popped up.
Recent addition; Custom WB storage overflow bug.
I have made notes where bugs have been fixed in the 121 firmware. I have left in listings for bugs in firmware 021 for those people who might wish to remain at verion 021.
The 121 firmware has now been released for download, thanks Minolta!
Here is a list of needed and desired firmware improvements. Some are mine, some are collected from others, but I have personally confirmed all of the "bugs". The "most important" (bug fixes) are at the top. Some of these would be fairly minor changes and would not change the camera documentation at all.
The following bug fixes are needed.
Firmware 121 Bug #1; camera can't focus in manual mode with flash in firmware 121.
* A new bug introduced with firmware 121. In dim light, with firmware 121, if you use manual mode and are using a flash (either the internal one, or an external Minolta approved flash), the camea screen DARKENS when you press the release to focus. In dim light, it darkens so much that the camera can't focus! Confirmed that this did NOT happen with firmware 021, with firmware 021 the camera screen brightens as normal when focusing under those conditions.
More details on this bug, it only happens if you are in multisegment metering mode when you switch to manual. If you are in spot or center weight this does not happen! Since you can't change metering modes after you switch to manual, you can only use manual mode with spot or center weight metering now.
THIS IS QUITE CLEARLY A BUG, INTRODUCED WITH THE NEW FIRMWARE.
Firmware 121 Bug #2, "WB storage overflow bug"
* As far as I can tell, if you ever store an extreme White Balance (WB) of a high temperature light source, you will be unable to ever store a custom WB again. Until you so store a high temperature WB, your camera will be OK. Once you do, every time you turn the camera off, or recall a custom WB in a memory, the WB will aquire a very Red or Maroon cast.
Here is how to make this happen, but I do not recommed trying to do this on purpose because it may not be possible to clear it again, ever. Don't believe me? try it! Don't blame me if this renders custom WB inoperative on your camera.
1) Set custom WB off a White area on your monitor (high temp light). (your camera is now "broken"). Confirm that the WB is OK by taking a picture of your monitor.
2) Set custom WB off a White wall with an incandescent light shining on it. Take a picture with the custom WB, the WB will be perfect.
3) Turn the camera off, or let it go to sleep.
4) The image will now have a heavy Red/Maroon cast.
5) The camera will never be able to store a custom WB again.
This appears to be some kind of overflow, where some information is written to store the high temperature WB, and then can't be erased again by storing other more normal WBs.
A reader Youngshenq Li wrote in to point out that this problem carries over to RAW files read in the Minolta viewer utilty. His camera also has the WB overflow problem, and when he selects to use the camera WB settings in DIVU it shows the Red channel as 0. If you pick Tungsten or some fixed WB the problem is gone. Apparently DIVU can't read the information stored in the custom WB in the RAW file in this case; it is probably stored wrong.
The WB overflow bug is not fixed in firmware 121
Firmware 121 bug #3; this version appears to break the long exposure noise reduction feature.
* In version 021 of the firmware, the camera would take a short noise sensing exposure on exposures longer than about a second. With firmware 121, a lot more "hot pixels" are visible on longer exposures, and the camera no longer takes the noise sensing exposure for the fixed time exposures (non bulb). It does still appear to take the noise sensing exposure on the bulb setting, but it does not actually work; the noise is not reduced. The symptom will be that as soon as you upgrade to version 121 of the firmware you will notice a lot more hot pixels on your exposures.
This one really makes me mad, it turns what used to be a great camera for long exposures into one that is only barely usable. I have no idea if this was removed on purpose, or if this is an error. The way that the camera still takes the noise sensing exposure in bulb but does not use it makes me think that it is an error. Of course there is no way to explain this to anyone at Minolta.
* If the camera switches to B&W viewfinder mode in low light, the magnification button is disabled. This is fine and is documented in the manual. However, if you take a picture and then switch the camera to Play mode WHILE THE VIEWFINDER IS STILL B&W, the magnification button is still disabled IN PLAY MODE; you can't zoom in in Play mode. The only way to work around this is to turn the camera off, then back on to Play mode. This is a bug.
This is fixed in firmware 121
* If fill flash is used in bright light (like sunlight) the first picture shot after the camera is first turned on is horribly overexposed. Subsequent pictures are exposed correctly. This only happens in bright light. This is a bug.
This is fixed in firmware 121
* If the 3600HS or 5600HS flash is put in bounce position, the TTL flash exposure does not work, and your shots will generally be overexposed. This is only a problem with the bounce position.
This is fixed in firmware 121
* The color/B&W mode is not stored in memories even though the manual indicates that it is. This is a bug.
This was fixed in firmware 121
Firmware 121 bug #3, Manual focus distance not stored/changes during sleep.
* When in manual focus mode, if the camera enters sleep mode, then is woken up again, the camera looses the maual focus setting, and a different setting is substituted. I'm not entirely sure that this can be fixed, it may be hardware.
This is not fixed in firmware 121
Firmware 121 bug #4, CF card problems
* There are compatibility problems with a very large number of flash cards. Firmware 121 improved storage speed on cards that do work, but does "break" some cards that used to work with version 021. I don't think that Minolta should fix this at the expense of having slower write speeds again, but if it were possible to fix the older cards while retaining the faster write speed that would be nice. Reportedly, this is because some cards do not implement the "write complete" signal.
Firmware 121 bug #5, Display does not match manual.
* Page 33 of the manual indicates that there are three information modes for the EVF or LCD displays. One of them is called "full display" with all information, one is called "warnings and focus frame" and one is called "live image only". The "warnings and focus frame" mode is supposed to show warnings such as a battery indicator and the out of focus indicator, as shown in the picture on page 33, but it shows neither one, even when the battery is low or the camera can't focus.
This is at least partially fixed in 121, the out of focus indicator does appear. I don't know if the low battery warning does yet.
* When zooming in on an image in play mode, small white dots, usually sort of in rows or colums, are sometimes visible on the image. These dots scroll with the image, but do not appear in the actual image.
This is fixed in firmware 121
* The colorspace tag in the EXIF information on JPEG files from the camera (not processed by the viewer) says sRGB, but the colorspace used isn't sRGB. Either this is incorrect, or the camera does NOT have a larger color space as advertised. This needs to be either fixed or explained.
* The Movie mode should not use continuous focus. The movie mode is totally unusable now because continuous focus constantly moves the lens in and out of focus. blurring the focus once per second during the movie. This is probably not considered to be a bug since it is documented that way.
The most important changes needed are:
* There is a SEVERE problem with how the camera handles shutter presses that make the camera extremely frustrating to use. There are three severe problems, and they could easily be fixed. These few things RUIN a perfectly good camera.
1) The camera requires you to hold the shutter down until the picture is taken. If the user makes a full press of the shutter, but does not hold the shutter down quite long enough until the camera focuses and takes the shot, his press is ignored. I have NEVER had or even heard of any camera that would ignore a full shutter press. The camera should treat a full press as a command to take a picture, no matter how long it takes to focus and take the shot.
Not changed in firmware 121
2) The camera has a small period of time after a shot is taken during which it will ignore the shutter press, even if the user presses forever as hard as they can out of frustration. Assuming that nothing can be done about this time, when the camera leaves the short period of time during which it can't take a picture then, why can't it poll the shutter release button at that time instead of ignoring it. There is no reason why this could not be done. Instead what happens is the camera simply ignores the user completely, even if the user keeps pressing.
Not changed in firmware 121
3) At times when the camera can't take a picture (in the short period when it can't after the shutter is pressed or when the internal buffer is full), the camera should put up some indication that taking a picture failed instead of just ignoring the user no matter how long they hold the release down in full press. Suggestions: beep twice. Put up an hourglass or message when the camera is emptying the internal buffer.
This is not changed in firmware 121 that I can tell
* Allow a sharpening setting between "Normal" and "Soft". Normal is simply too much sharpening and it accentuates the noise too much. Examine the existing sharpening routines to see how they can oversharpen an area or a pixel at a junction by applying the routine twice to a single pixel, giving very dark and bright noise like pixels on the final shot. Minolta did an excellent job providing multiple contrast, EV, and color settings, and there should also be more than three sharpening options.
* There should be a user hot pixel mapout table, such as Olympus has now added to the E-10 by firmware update. There are quite a few reports of Dimage 7 cameras with hot pixels being purchased. Perhaps some day Minolta will realize how much money these returned cameras are costing them; a simple firmware update could allow users to update their hot pixel maps themselves at no cost to Minolta.
* The only thing preventing the use of the Dimage 7 with studio flashes is that the camera has no way of brightening the viewfinder or LCD screen enough for the camera to be used in Manual mode at standard studio settings (1/125 second at F8). The camera always shows a "preview" of the exposure, which is too dark for framing or focus. The studio lights can be tripped by several methods (older Minolta flashes that just emit one flash). What is needed is a solution that allows the camera to show a brigher view in the viewfinder.
1) Have the camera sense that an external Minolta flash is attached, if technically possible.
2) Have a setting on the setup menu for "external flash". This is how the Nikon camera work. When "External flash" is picked, the camera will act as if the internal flash was popped up in manual mode. This would be the best solution.
3) Have the LCD always show a brigher view, the EVF the exposure preview. The LCD could be used in the studio where power isn't a big consideration.
Things that would be "nice" are: (these aren't bugs)
* Have a mode so that if you move the focus ring in manual focus the camera automatically goes into the 4X "electronic magnification" focusing mode. This would save having to press the magnify button over and over and would allow one handed operation. The magnification effect would be canceled by pressing the shutter release.
* The "P"ro mode button should (maybe optionally) recall memory #1 instead of setting some generic settings that wipe out all your contrast EV and saturations settings needed to make the pictures from this camera look good.
* Allow the shutter release or other button to be used as the "enter" button in addition to the center press of the rocker switch. Not a bug, just an idea.
* Allow a mode for sRGB color space conversion of JPEG right in the camera, even if it slows down operation. Not a bug, just an idea.
* Allow a second press of the "quick view" button to mean "NO" to delete a picture and turn off the quick view instead of making people press the menu button. Not a bug, just an idea.
* Have a mode for the EVF that always shows the preview as bright as possible instead of always showing a preview of the exposure. This would be used when using the camera with studio flashes for setting up. This could be called "EVF modeling mode" or "EVF flash mode".
* If technically possible the EVF should continue to look for the presense of an eye if it is off when the shutter is half pressed, at least for a half second or so. Time after time I press too soon and then the EVF will never turn on once you press the shutter.
This is not fixed in firmware 121. Maybe it can't be done.
* When the AE/AF button is set to toggle, Have a better on-screen indication (EVF and LCD monitor) for the AE/AF toggle being "on" with the exposure locked. One suggestion is to flash the shutter speed and aperture on the display, or to use a different color such as Red or bright Green. Not really a bug.
* The spot focus cross indicator should not flash Red when it finds focus, another color should be used. Red is used by the camera focus indicator dot to indicate "can't focus" and in other places to indicate an error condition, and using Red for the "can focus" indication for the spot focus is inconsistant. I suggest Green. Not a bug, works as in the manual.
* The single focus cross is not centered in the spot focus circle when in the default position. One or the other is a couple of pixels off.
This is fixed in firmware 121.
Other differences with version 121
* Flash card save speed is much faster. My Kingston 256MB card will save a RAW file in 12.3 seconds now, it used to take about 23 seconds.