Minolta Maxxum 9 Professional SLR
When I first saw the Maxxum
9 at a private showing inside the Minolta display booth at the 1998
photokina I was impressed with this camera's capabilities and
was anxious to obtain one for review--but they were not expected until
sometime in the spring of '99. That's a long wait for something
as radical and interesting as this new professional-caliber SLR. But
a call from Minolta's public relations firm said they would have
a few preproduction samples of the camera to send out for a quick look.
In a mere two weeks hands-on period we could not do a really thorough
testing, besides this is not a finished camera sample. Therefore, these
are preliminary first impressions derived over a very short time with
little practical use testing.
A solid, durable, stainless
steel and zinc die-cast metal body encloses a host of desirable features.
The more important features include: 5.5 fps rate without requiring a
separate battery pack; 1/12,000 top shutter speed and 1/300 sec top flash
synch speed; four-segment flash metering; 14-segment honeycomb pattern
metering; 100 percent visible viewfinder field; and 21 custom functions.
The built-in computerization includes extensive built-in data memory,
which records all exposure information for up to seven rolls of 36-exposure
film. Changing the drive mode, engaging automatic bracketing, or making
multiple exposures are all controlled by a dial nestled just below the
simplified main mode setting dial beside the data panel where it's
A three-point cross hair type
autofocusing sensor uses a built-in three-target AF illuminator for accuracy
even in low-light or low-contrast situations. A touch-sensor system in
the grip speeds up autofocusing operation by activating everything including
an eyestart system when the camera is first picked up so it's immediately
ready to work as you raise the camera to your eye. Vivid red rectangles
on the ends or a central square illuminate on the viewfinder screen to
inform you exactly where the autofocusing sensor selected its prime focus
point for easier focus tracking. The intensity of these LED indicators
even changes with different light levels making them less obtrusive. The
autofocusing was extraordinarily fast and accurate under every different
lighting situation I used for my brief film testing.
Although we did not have samples
to test, two new Maxxum lenses were introduced with this new SLR. The
Minolta AF 200mm f/4 Macro APO G telephoto lens has macro focusing capabilities
down to 19.7" for 1:1 life size images; focus-hold button and focus-range
limiter. Unique is the only way to describe the Minolta Smooth Trans Focus
(STF) 135mm f/2.8 (T4.5) which is a manual focusing, special-purpose lens,
the only such lens offered for the Maxxum autofocus cameras. The lens
construction includes an apodization filter to produce a natural visual
shift from focused to defocused areas so the original subject outline
remains clear while there is a smooth transition rendering the background
more out of focus. To fully appreciate what this lens can do you really
have to see sample images made with it.
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