D7 FAQ

Minolta Dimage 7 series Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

(Unless noted, sections apply to D7i and D7Hi also)

Version #21, July 5, 2003

How do you pronounce Dimage?

It sounds like Joe Dimagio without the "io" sound. D + Maj

The camera does not last long on batteries

You HAVE to use NiMH, no other type. They HAVE to be in good condition. They HAVE to be properly charged and not brand new on their first charge cycle. For more information, see the Battery information for new users page

My camera gets really hot during normal use

This may be related to the dirty contacts problem mentioned in the battery section. It also is a sign that your batteries aren't up to providing the current that the Dimage camera wants. What seems to happen is that the voltage regulator/power supply in the camera has to work extra hard if your batteries are low voltage. See the battery section and Battery information for Newbies pages for more details.

I got an "UNABLE TO USE CARD" Error.

This is a common problem. While it might mean that you have a problem with your camera, the real problem probably lies somewhere else, and you should try to eliminate the possiblities.

1) BATTERY PROBLEM

This can happen with battery problems (low batteries). If your low battery indicator is coming on, especially if it comes on intermittantly, you may have a problem with your batteries even though they "seem" good or you "know" that they are good.

2) POWER SUPPLY PROBLEM

I have seen two reports of people using external power adapters that were too small for the D7 series causing this problem

 

3) CORRUPTED CARD

There are several ways that you can corrupt the directory information on your flash card that can cause this error. The most common way to corrupt your flash card is in an external reader. Doing ANY sort of writing to the card in an external reader, especially if you are using the Windows (tm) operating system, opens you up to this problem. The most common method is that the user writes to the card (say they delete some pictures), then removes the card from the reader before Windows is done writing to the card (there is no indicator on most systems). Windows XP seems to be most susseptible to this problem.

Once your directory or FAT table is corrupted, you may have problems right away, or later. You may have corrupted files, lose a few pictures, or lose all of them.

To prevent this, at least until you figure out what is going wrong, stop deleting pictures in any card readers, and don't do any other operation that would write to the card including "move". Each time you unload the card, format it in the camera; this will reset the directory and is a good idea "just in case".

4) WRONG CARD FORMAT

Digital cameras use FAT16 format, just like DOS. (there are now a few high end cameras that can use FAT32). Some versions of Windows default to using FAT32 if you format a CF card. If you accidently format your card with FAT32, the camera will not be able to read it any more, and will not even be able to reformat it. You will have to reformat the card in Windows. In Windows 2000 and XP you would type "FORMAT /FS:FAT16 H:" assuming that your CF card was drive H: DO NOT FORGET TO TYPE IN THE RIGHT DRIVE LETTER. DON"T FORMAT YOUR HARD DRIVE BY ACCIDENT.

5) PROBLEM CARD

Yes, it is possible to have a bad CF card. Some brands don't work well in the D7 series (Mr. Flash, Dane-Elec, for example). The thing to do would be to test with the card that came with the camera. If it works...

6) BENT PINS

Somehow, people have been able to bend the pins in the CF interface. I don't know how this is done, but never force your CF card in, it is too easy to put it in backwards. You can check for bent pins with a flashlight. Unfortunately, you will probably have to send it in.

Note: please don't write to me with your CF troubles unless you have some new insight, I have tried to put everything that I know on this page! Naturally if you have an interesting tip I'd like to hear it of course, but I can't help you with your dealer, etc. and card problems.

My shots are always blurry!

There can be several reasons for this, I've listed them below.

* There might not be enough light, and you or the subject is moving. This is general photography, not really a D7 issue. If this is true, you either need to boost the ISO, use a larger aperture, or use a flash. Look at the shutter speed on the blurry pictures. Is it less than say 1/125 second? If so, this could be your problem.

* The most common reason is "shake". This is trying to hand hold a shot that you should not.  The old rule of thumb for the shutter speed is 1/the focal length.  So, at telephoto, you should not try to hand hold at less than 1/200 second... assuming that you are being still! At wide angle, not less than 1/28 second. This assumes that you are actually holding as still as you can, not moving or trying to take a picture while you are walking. If you are trying to take a handheld shot at 1/8 second say, don't be surprised if it does not look perfectly sharp when you examine it later on your computer, no matter how still you are. Take a look at the shutter speed on some of your problem shots. Yeah, some people can hold more still than others, but you can't stop your heart from beating (well, you really shouldn't ;) If this is your problem, try increasing the ISO or use the flash if you can to help out.

* The second most common reason is what I call "lock 'n move" This is camera motion after half pressing to get focus lock. I find myself doing this by accident all the time. What happens is that you half press to lock the focus... and then you are tempted to move for better framing while still holding the release down! You have to refocus of course. For closeups of people, and at telephoto and macro, even moving by an inch (or even just a tenth of an inch at full macro) can ruin your shot because the depth of field can be small. It can make the difference between a shot with the focus on the subject's nose, and a shot with the focus on the back of their ear. For macro shots, where the depth of field is only a few mm, it is almost impossible to get a good shot without a tripod. Once you are aware of this problem, you can try to catch yourself.

* The third most common reason is camera rotation. Any camera is very sensitive to rotation during the exposure (say by stabbing the exposure button). A very small rotation can result in blur. For example, say that the camera rotated just 1 degree while you took your shot around the center of the image. Say the image is 2500 pixels across. 1 degree is 1/57 radians, so the camera will move 1250/57 or almost 26 pixels at the edges. To have less than 1 pixel movement, you would have to hold the camera still to within less than 1/1250 radian, or less than 0.05 degrees, a very small angle. The full Moon is 0.50 degrees, for example. On the D7/i, you should support the camera with your left hand while shooting, and don't stab at the button.

* Another common reason might be that you are pressing the shutter when the camera does not actually have a focus lock (The indicator in lower right is red) Start checking the indicator! If this is constantly a problem for you, you can set continuous focus which will not allow you to take a shot unless the camera has a "lock".

* One last thing to check, make sure that you didn't turn the sharpening off in the camera, set it to Normal. Unsharpened shots are shockingly soft from the D7 and other digital cameras; just not what our eyes expect to see.

The camera appears to have limited dynamic range compared to my old camera (D7 only)

This is actually not related to limited range, but to the fact that the camera has a larger than sRGB color space, and the exposure and contrast choices selected by the Minolta. I don't want to repeat the whole argument here, but briefly the Minolta appears to do several things.

1) The default contrast is too high for most people's tastes. This gives shots with "pop" but you loose the shadows and some highlights.

2) The Minolta metering is different. It may meter for 13% grey instead of 18% grey. This results in "brigher" shots, but sometimes at the expense of the hightlights.

3) The Minolta color space is (much!) wider than the sRGB color space used for monitors.

4) If you take a photo with another camera, then adjust the Minolta exposure and contrast in the camera to match either the highlights or the shadows, the two photos will show the same amount of highlights and shadows. The camera has the same scene dynamic range as other cameras. Here are some sample shots, click on them to view the full size shots.

First, a shot with the Nikon Coolpix 990 at default settings.

Next a shot with the D7. The D7 had to be adjusted to overexpose the shot a little to match the Nikon 990 shot, and had to have contrast set to "-2" to match the 990.. 

If you don't want to correct the color, some people like to set the D7 all the time at -2 contrast, -0.3 EV, +1 saturation so that the shots right out of the camera look more like they are used to from other cameras.

The colors look funny (D7 only)

The Minolta Dimage 7 uses a color space that is wider than the standard sRGB color space used by many consumer cameras. This is good, but it means that if you simply view your shots on the monitor without transforming the color they will appear washed out.  In this respect it is more like a pro camera with a wider color space. You have to convert the D7 images to your favorite color space (such as the one used by your monitor) to see the best color. While the Minolta viewer utility can do this, it also increases the saturation and contrast too much on some shots. People have now developed other solutions, see the color information page.

Can I attach the camera to a telescope?

In short, not to just any telescope. The long answer is that there is one adapter that works pretty well. The problem is that the physical size of the D7 lens is much too large for the 1/4 inch exit pupil of most eyepieces designed for humans. The best that you can get with normal eyepieces is a very highly vingetted view that is very narrow. The best cameras for attachment to telescopes have physically small lenses (such as the Nikon Coolpix series). If you don't mind the vignetting, such as for photos of planets through a telescope, then then answer is a qualified yes. Scopetronix makes an off the shelf solution for astronomical work that works very well, and is one of the few general solutions to the problem. See the review.

What flashes work? (D5,D7,D7i)

Only the Minolta ADI flashes work fully with ADI and TTL metering.. These are the Minolta 3600HS(D) and the 5600HS(D). In addition you need firmware 121 or 122 to use bounce mode properly with these flashes. These flashes do NOT support the AF assist light (and the camera does not really need it).

There are a few third party flashes that work.

* Sigma Super EF-500 DG. You must get the "DG" model. This emulates most of the Minolta features. The only feature that does not work as far as I know is that the flash does not have a "bounce" sensor, and so does not automatically switch to TTL metering when using bounce as do the Minolta flashes.

* There is a third party flash that works well, but not with TTL or ADI. The Sunpak PZ-5000 has an on-board sensor, and will work with the D5/D7/i if you set the camera in Aperture priority only, using the light sensor on the flash. This is called "auto-thyristor squelch". This may not be as good as TTL or ADI, but it is a heck of a lot better than full manual. In order to use this flash, the camera must be set for a particular aperture so that the flash "knows" what aperture the camera is using. In other modes, this flash just fires full. A couple notes about this flash, it just emits one pulse so can be used to trigger studio lights. It has a strobe function, and a swivel as well as bounce. The auto head zoom does work with the D7, and the flash can read the camera's ISO. The cost of this flash is almost the same as the Minolta 3600HSD which does work fully with TTL and ADI., but the advantage is that it is more powerful than the 3600HSD

* Some other third party and maybe older Minolta flashes CAN be used if they are used in full manual mode. For example the Sunpak 355AF will work, but must be operated in full manual mode with the aperture set on the camera to control the exposure. The Minolta 5400 flash will NOT work and does not even fire on some cameras.

 

To repeat, since this question comes up almost every day there are absolutely NO third party flashes aside from the Sigma that will work on the D7/D5/D7i in TTL or ADI mode. None.

The short answer is... there are three classes of flashes that can work on the D7.

1) Flashes that can talk to the camera and the camera can control. These flashes can do TTL pre-flash and ADI pre-flash under camera control. The ONLY two flashes that can do this are the Minolta 3600HSD and 5600HDS flashes. There is now one thrid party flash only that can do this the Metz series with the proper adapter. These flashes can be used in any mode and at any shutter speed. These are the only flashes that will work in P mode

2) Flashes that have their own on-board light sensor and can control themselves. his is often called Auto-Thyristor mode. The flash has a light sensor, and shuts itself down when the sensor thinks that there has been enough light. For this type of flash to work you have to set the aperture on the camera to a fixed value as specified by the flash (use A mode or M mode) and set that same value on the flash. Generally you would use A mode in bright light for fill in, and M mode at other times. The Sunpak PZ-5000 works this way, and can communicate with the camera so that auto zoom works. Auto thyristor mode works on the Sunpak 433 also.

3) Dumb flashes. There are several third party flashes that will fire in dumb mode on the D5/D7/D7i. Examples are the Sunpak 355AF with the Minolta xi base, or any flash with a standard ISO base and the FS-1100 adapter on the camera. You can also use adapters to fire almost any flash or studio light this way. In this mode, the camera just fires the flash at full power; YOU have to provide the brains to control the exposure like in the "old days". You do this by adjusting the aperture on the camera either using your years of experience, a table on the flash, by experimentation, or by adjusting the power level on the flash if it has that feature. You will probably have to use these flashes in Manual on the camera to have the shutter speed high enough to avoid very slow shutter speeds.

Here is a summary of ALL known flashes that work.

Minolta 3600HSD (ADI and TTL, auto zoom)

Minolta 5600HSD (ADI and TTL, auto zoom)
 

Sigma Super EF-500 DG (ADI, TTL, most features, no bounce sensor)


Sunpak PZ-5000 (Auto thyristor with the camera in A or M mode, auto zoom)

Sunpak 433 with xi base (Auto thyristor with the camera in A or M mode)

Sunpack 355AF with xi base (full manual only)

Metz flashes using the new SCA 3002 "M3" adapter. This is not generally available yet as of July 27, 2002.

FS-1100 hot shoe adapter. It may be possible to use other flashes if you can trick the camera into firing the flash just once. This is easier on the D7i since it has a "manual" flash mode that will fire the flash just once. For example, you might be able to get an old Nikon base flash like the Vivitar 550FD to fire by using the FS-1100 hot shoe adapter to adapt the Minolt shoe to ISO standard, get the flash to fire, and use auto thyristor (some times called "program" mode) on the flash along with fixed aperture on the camera. NONE of the other flash features will work, no auto zoom for example. Does this count as working? I guess that it depends on your point of view. Some might argue that only the 3600HSD and 5600HSD really work fully.

 

Can I attach a studio flash?

Yes, but it isn't easy. There are several problems. 1) there is no sync socket. 2) you can't turn off the double flash on the internal flash (D5 and D7 only, you can on the D7i which makes this all a lot easier). 3) If you use manual mode and an external flash with an adapter (see below) the screen is too dark in manual mode to focus. 4) Firmware 121 for the D7  introduces a new bug where the camera can't always focus in manual mode if you have the flash mode set.

There are several work arounds:

1) Light sensitive slaves: The D7 and D5 cameras use a pre-flash that will trip any slave flashes. The pre-flash cannot be disabled. One technique that has been used successfuly is to use the "Digi-slave" from Selectronics. This will trigger an attached flash on the second flash. This works, and the device is about $80. The D7i can be set to emit a single flash and so can trip your light slaves directly.

2) On the D7 and D5, Some older Minolta flashes and some Minolta compable thrid party flashes will just emit one flash and can be used to trigger studio flashes using the light sensing slave mode. They have to be set to manual mode to do this.  The Sunpak 355AF works (I have that flash). The Sunpack 4000 xi and the Minolta 5400 also are reported to work (unconfirmed by me, many report that the Minolta 5400 will not fire at all, so watch out). One nice thing about the 355AF that I have is that the camera "knows" that there is a flash attached and keeps the screen bright in manual mode.

3) On the D7 and D5, The New Minolta 5600HS(D) flash can be set to manual mode and will emit just one flash that can be used to trigger slaves. The screen will remain bright. The Minolta 3600HS(D) which is the only other currently availible flash with full support does not have a manual mode and will always emit the pre-flash and so can't be used.

4) The current Minolta hot shoe adapter FS-1100 works with the 121 firmware. You can combine the FS-1100 (about $30) with a hot shoe to PC sync adapter (about $20) to trip external flashes using the PC socket. However the display will be dark in manual mode with the FS-1100 unless you pirate the 122 firmware.

5) Minolta has now shipped a PC sync adapter, the PCT-100. This gives you a PC sync socket on the camera that you can use to trip your external flashes. As part of the PCT-100 package, Minolta includes a firmware update for the D5 and D7 that lets you trick Manual mode on the camera into remainding bright all the time instead of showing an exposure preview.

6) There is a thrid party PC-sync socket adapter available which is being imported into the USA by a compay called. "EPC-LLC". You can e-mail them here. At the time of writing the cost is $80 plus shipping. I have one of these adapters and it works great. Here is my mini-review of it.

 * It is small! I was expecting a big clunker thing, but this is nice and small. In fact I'm just leaving it on the end of the sync cord and leaving it plugged in, attaching the camera when I want it.

* You can still raise the viewfinder when it is on, which is nice because it looked like the PCT-100 was going to block the viewfinder.

* It works. I just plugged my sync cord in. I fired the first light with the cord, the rest on light slave. I tried some fast shutter speeds, it synced fine; sync at all shutter speeds.

* The camera "thinks" that there is a flash attached, so the display stays bright. I'm assuming that means that the camera will use flash white balance too... hmmm, how are they going to get around the WB problem with the PCT-100 if it can't tell the camera it is attached? (they don't, you have to set the WB manuall with the PCT-100). You don't need to upgrade your D7 to 122 firmware or your D5 to 056 firmware to use this adapter.

* It even has a little lock and release button like the flash shoe is supposed to have.

* There is no battery drain when you aren't using the adapter.

* Tony (I think) has provided a little instruction sheet about how to change the battery when that day comes.

* In all, it works. I'm not really sure what could be done to improve it.

7) The D7i can trigger slave flashes with the manual mode or reduced power mode single flash, so if you can provide a light sensitive trigger this will be the easiest way.

 

What about filters?

The Dimage 7 uses a standard 49mm filter thread. However! The camera is very close to vignetting (dark edges) at full wide angle as it is. People have had trouble with vignetting with some filters, you will have to test the particular filter that you want to use.

1) 49mm "low profile" filters are reported to work, but you will need to double check the particular filter that you are interested in on your particular camera.

2) 49mm to 52mm step up rings that I have seen vignette. (at least mine does)

3) 49mm to 55mm step up rings and filters are reported to work. You need to test to be sure, the one that I bought didn't work. However you will not be able to put the lens shade on with one of these in place. In any case, you will have to remove the lens shade to change filters. Most 49mm to 62mm rings work, but in every case you still have to check the particular ring in question.

4) Keep in mind that if you use a colored filter, the auto white balance of the camera will at least partially compensate for it (unless it is very strongly colored), reducing the effect.

5) See the add ons page for details on what is reported to work.

I'm, just starting out. How should I set the camera? (D7 only, the D7i does not use the larger color space, however some people still like -0.3EV on the D7i)

There are three options.

* Use the Minolta viewer utilty. Not everyone likes the results though

* If you are using one of the color management techniques on the color page, then you should start with the defaults. The Colorfix program for $17 is a cheap easy to use alternative to the Minolta viewer.

* Try these settings for a start

==============Record mode=======================

Sharpening = Soft  (reduces noise considerably)

ISO = 100 or Auto

AE/AEL button = AE hold

Mag button = Elec. mag. ( pressin mag buttong zooms in in manual)

============= Setup menu ========================

LCD and EVF brightness = 3

Power save = 1 min

Tone = Low

File # memory =  Yes (makes it number your shots consecutively ).

EVF autoSwitch = EVF auto On (EVF only comes on when your eye gets near)

 

The lens shade does not stay on/there is vignetting at wide angle.

Several people, including myself, had not been putting the lens shade on correctly when the camera was new. When the lens shade is on correctly, the little bump under the Minolta stencil will be EXACTLY on top dead center. The first few times that you put the shade on it may take more force to lock on that you feel comfortable applying to a new camera, which is why a lot of people, including myself walked around with the lens shade not locked on. If the little bump is not exactly on the top, you will also get some vignetting at wide angle. If you are seeing the vignetting, your lens shade isn't on correctly.

Hey! Where is the exposure meter for manual mode?

Well, the fact is that there isn't one. So how are you supposed to adjust your exposure? Use "look" of the image in the EVF to adjust your exposure. It may not be obvious to new users, but the EVF shows you a real time preview of your exposure at all times, and you can adjust your exposure with that. Yes, it would be nice to have an exposure meter too, but you will find that using the EVF is really accurate.

Hey, there are streaks on the LCD/EVF in bright light.

This in not unique to Minolta cameras, almost every camera that uses an LCD has this problem, see the Nikon 990 FAQ on this site for example. In bright light situations, and with the brightness turned up all the way on the LCD monitor, you will see vertical streaks on bright objects (like a window to the outdoors) on the LCD monitor. This is normal, and has something to do with the brighter type of LCD that is used. For maximum visibility, the LCD brightness can be turned up high enough to cause these streaks. They will not appear on your final photo.

Gray market cameras in the USA and warranty

Here is how the Minolta warranty works. A lot of people have purchased gray market cameras (see the section on buying) from low price dealers without knowing it, and are shocked when they find out about the (lack of) warranty. These dealers may tell you that the camera will be covered under the international warranty. They may also tell you that it has a "USA" warranty when what they mean is that you have a worthless warranty through them; they will not fix your camera.

Minolta USA will only service cameras with the USA warranty. Yes Minolta does have an "international warranty", and some people seem to be under the impression that Minolta will fix their cameras because of the international nature of the warranty, but Minolta USA will not service cameras under the international warranty that were purchased in the USA. You have to have a receipt that shows that you bought the camera in another country to get service on the International Warranty. That means that if you buy a grey market camera, and the reciept shows that you bought it in, say, New York, Minolta will NOT service it, supposedly even if you offer to pay. The reason for this is that the camera was not imported through Minolta USA. (Minolta USA WILL service a camera under the international warranty that was purchased in the country for which it was intended. For example if you live in Japan and buy a Minolta in Japan, then bring it here, they will service it as long as the receipt has the correct county on it.)

A tip off that you might have a gray camera is ...

* The firmware number ends in "e" or "j" instead of "u". (to see the firmware version, put the camera in setup mode and press the scene mode button by the top LCD).

* The camera did not come with a warranty card (disreputable shops remove them so you will not know. They may tell you that "everyone does that" or that "the dealer sends it in" but neither thing is true).

* The warranty card does not say Minolta USA warranty on it.

I get fewer shots on my flash card with firmware 121 (D7 only)

Actually, you will get the same final number of shots; that has not changed. All that happened is that Minolta changed the "guess" that the camera makes about how many shots are going to fit to be more conservative. The camera always has to guess about how many shots are going to fit. That is because JPEG compression used by the camera will be more or less efficient depending on how complex your subject is, and the camera has no way of knowing ahead of time what you will be shooting. Try it! Cover the lens and take a couple of dark shots. When you get them over on your computer later, they will be a lot smaller than a normal shot because all that dark is very simple to compress.

I set my D5/D7/D7i at infinity in manual focus mode but the resulting shots are out of focus.

Like many high quality lenses, the D7 series can focus a little bit beyond infinity. This is needed to allow some add on lenses to focus, and for Infra Red focus. If you set manual focus, then focus to the extreme limit on the infinity end, the resulting shots may be out of focus, especially at the telephoto end of the zoom range. In testing my own cameras, I found that for both the D7 and D7i the true infinite focus point is just at or slightly after the camera indicates infinity as you approach from the close focus end. Don't crank the lens all the way to the far end.

My Lens rubber fell off/is loose (D7 and D7i only)

This may void your warranty, although I doubt it. Do this at your own risk. This repairs the rubber ring just like it was at the factory with no damage or messy glue. It should be a harmless repair. Don't blame me if you break your camera, but you might consider this if your D7 is out of warranty. Bill Hall reports that this procedure works on  a D7i also. In any case, consider sending the camera in and letting Minolta fix it.

The rubber ring on the D7 is held in place by simple friction and a short length of double sided tape near the top. The problem is usually that the lens unit was overlubricated in some cases, and some of the lubricant gets under the rubber ring and spoils the tape. On my camera this lubricant was pink colored.

To fix the ring, you need some 3M double sided tape, usually sold for window insulator kits. Do not use carpet tape because it is usually too thick. It needs to be thin. It does not need to be all that sticky. The 3M tape is about $3 for a small roll.

Remove the ring by working it off and stretching it. Don't break it, but you can stretch it enough to remove it (take the lens hood off first!) Work slowly so you don't break it.

Clean the rubber ring by washing it in soapy wanter, then dry it completely, Be sure to remove all the lubricant. You can use some rubbing alcohol on the ring if you want to.

Clean the lubricant off the camera by rubbing with a clean cloth. Remove the old piece of tape, but note it's position and save it by sticking it to your desk.

Finish cleaning the camera surface with a cloth just moistened (not soaking or dripping) with alcohol. You want it very clean. You don't want any alcohol getting into the lens, the cloth should just be moist. Try to get all the pink lubricant off the outside surface, it isn't supposed to be there.

Cut a short length of tape to replace the original using the original piece as a guide. You will need to trim the width down to match the original. Try not to handle the tape too much.

Replace the tape and lightly press on the camera with a clean tool.

Replace the rubber by working it on. Don't press on it until you have it lined up just right. It is easiest to line up if you zoom out all the way once you have it lined up pretty close, then line up the little macro arrows.

Random D7 overexposure problem:

Several people have had this. If what you have is the same, it may seem random at first glance, but there is actually a pattern to it. The problem seems to be  that the shutter or aperture "sticks" at certain apertures. You will only see the problem at high shutter speeds (bright scene). Because it requires high shutter speeds and a cretain aperture to have the problem, you will not see it on all photos and it will seem to depend on the zoom level (which affects the aperture used)


To test for it, set the camera in aperture priority mode near wide angle, and go outside on a bright day. Dial up all the available apertures and take a shot of the same scene. If you have the problem, one or more of the shots will be grossly overexposed.

 Here is a sample of what my camera did


http://www.pbase.com/image/1588524.jpg

http://www.pbase.com/image/1588526.jpg

http://www.pbase.com/image/1588528.jpg

In my case, it only affected the smallest aperture. Others have reported problems with middle apertures.

Keep in mind that you will only see the problem at a certain aperture if the shutter speed is high enough; if the shutter speed is less than (say) 1/125 the aperture will not stick.

In my case, before I sent it in I had to use the camera. I just stayed aware of the aperture that was being used, and dialed up another aperture to avoid the problem until I could get it fixed; maybe you can do the same thing.

Also keep in mind that it seems to affect a certain sized opening. That opening might be F8 at wide, or F9.5 at full zoom.

How to use continuous focus: (D5/D7/D7i)

The continuous focus mode is a little confusing. They way that it work is this....

When the camera has not "locked on", the focus does travel the full range in and out until it locks on. You have to constantly watch the little "lock" indicator in lower right. When it does not have lock, the focus cycles the full range until it gets lock. This is slow. Then the focus begins a shorter cycle in and out around the focus point. As long as the object stays in the focus range of the short cycle (and it will adapt to slow movements) the camera will stay locked. As soon as you point at something else, jiggle too much, or the object moves too fast outside of the short focus cycle, then the camera has to do a full focus again to find a new thing to lock on to, and this takes as long as a normal focus cycle. On the D7i, this takes less than a second. On the D7, it takes 0.8 seconds to 2.5 second depending on the focal length that you are using.. It does not "know" what you are trying to focus on, it just starts a new full focus cycle when you lose lock. The trick to using the continuous focus is to keep your camera locked and pay attention to the lock indicator. You can't move it around at all, you have to lock on the same spot. So to use the continous focus, you have to let it lock on, then track the object so that it can remain locked on.

 

The electronic magnification button does not always work!

You can't use focus magnification when the viewfinder is in B&W light amplification mode. See the D7i manual page 73.

The "Purple Flower Color Problem"

This is a common problem. Your shot of some purple flowers turns out Blue, or Blue flowers look purple. There are really three factors that cause this flower color problem..


1) Using Auto WB. When presented with a scene with a lot of dominant color, such as a shot of green grass or a red sunset, auto WB tries to move that that scene as much as allowed towards white by removing some of the dominant color. It does not "know" that you are trying to photograph a red sunset or a green field. Use of AWB just complicates the analysis of flower pictures.

2) The spectral sensitivity of the CCD filters and flower pigments. Flower colors are usually formed by a combination of individual pigments, and these pigments have very narrow colors. If you look at the spectral response of the Sony HAD CCD used in the D7/i, you will see that below 425nm (which is purple) that there is a problem. Only the Blue curve has any information, and the Red and Green curves are low and actually flat. In fact, the Green curve actually starts turning back up! This means that there is no information aside from Blue intensity below 425nm, and actually you are in trouble starting at about 450nm. red response is almost nil after only 550nm, and Purple is Blue and Red mixed, of course.
 

See...
http://www.framos.de/pdf_sheets/ICX282AQ.pdf


and go to page #8 for the graph, (sorry it is a PDF file so I can't link to the graph directly.)

This means that the camera has trouble with purple colors that are "pure" purple (really violet) at the far end of the spectrum as opposed to a mixture of Red and Blue which is in most man made purple dyes and pigments. Ask any kid to mix you up some Purple and you will get a mixture of Red and Blue that the camera will not have trouble with. Most man made pigments and dyes are a mixture of Red and Purple and the camera will not have a problem with them. Ask a flower to make Purple, and you might get either Blue and Red pigments which will be OK, or a pure Violet color that the camera can't detect well because it is at the far end of the spectrum and only stimulates the Blue CCD cells. These pigments are rare in nature, but they do occur in flowers because flowers have a reason (see below). This isn't unique to the D7/i, they all can have this problem, and there isn't much that you can do about it. You can try to correct, but it will probably mess up the rest of your shot.

3) The super-purple color is out of sRGB gamut. This again just complicates things because it means that what color people see on their screens depends on how they are looking. Is their monitor sRGB... or what? Did they do a color space conversion? How did the conversion deal with the out of gamut colors? Are they just looking without converting, or looking on an unprofiled monitor system, or using a profile to convert? Even using DIVU isn't a solution because it has to make decisions about what to do with out of gamut colors.

You can see that all of these things combine to make a big mess. Your best bet to getting a grip on it is to use daylight or other fixed WB (custom WB set against a grey card is best), and use a profiled system to view the shots.

By the way, although you hear some other theories about how "it is spurious UV response" or "it is IR response" etc., those have been pretty much disproved. However UV does tie into the problem a little bit. Most insect vision and especially that of bees is in the UV (must be those tiny little eyes!), so flowers try to have a distinct look in the UV to attract them. That means that many of the flower pigments have pure colors in the near UV or very edge of the visible around 400nm. These don't contain any Red, and only stimulate the Blue sensors on the CCD. Because the Red and Green curves are flat there, the camera just can't tell what color it is. Throw in some white balance problems because of the dominant colors, and out of sRGB gamut colors anyway, and you have real trouble.

Hey, I can't set 1/4000 shutter speed (D7i and D7Hi only)

The 1/4000 shutter speed is only available at the smallest apertures. Why is this? It is because the aperture can't close fast enough at the larger apertures. That means that if you set Aperture priority mode, and pick a large aperture, the camera will not be able to set the 1/4000 speed. Your camera is not broken, this is the way it is supposed to work. Also note that the 1/4000 speed is only available in P and A mode, not S or M mode; you can't set the 1/4000 speed yourself, the auto exposure routine in the camera has to pick it which means a very bright scene. Also note that most daylight scenes aren't even bright enough to get speeds faster than 1/2000! In order to see faster speeds, you may have to set a higher than normal ISO (such as 400) and use a bright scene (point the camera at a 100W light bulb! (not the Sun)).

Hey, all my shots seem to be 72 DPI, I want 300DPI?

This is a common question from new users. The answer is, that the DPI marked in the JPEG files from digital cameras is meaningless. That is because the final DPI that you get depends on what output device you view or print your pictures on. The camera has no way of knowing what this will be, and there is a blank in the standard JPEG header for DPI, so most cameras just put in "72". The actual DPI that you will get is up to you, it all depends on what the pixel resolution of your shot is, and how large you view or print it. For example, a shot from the D7 at standard resolution is 2560 pixels across. If you print that on a printer at 8x10, you will be using 2560/10 = 256 DPI. If you print at 4x6, you will be using 2560/6 or about 427 DPI. Some photo programs will insist that your shot is 2560/72 or 35.5 inches across because the JPEG header is marked 72 DPI, but you probably aren't really going to print that large ;) Just ignore the 72 DPI that some programs show, DPI is what you make it.