As a professional photographer, I have access to a lot of cameras. I use at least five different cameras in a typical work week, most of which are digital SLRs.
My first digital SLR at work was the Nikon D1H, which my company bought for me in August of 2001, an excellent camera for newspaper shooting. It has been retired since 2009, but I made a lot of amazing photos with it, photos that hold up remarkably well consider the technical limitations of the day.
It was around that same time that I decided I wanted digital capability for my own purposes, yet something smaller, lighter, and more versatile, for situations like hiking and traveling. In the summer of 2002, I bought a tiny point-and-shoot, the Nikon CoolPix 885. It was small enough to pocket, but wasn’t as capable as I would have liked for “fine art” type images. After some more research, I bought a Minolta DiMage 7i in the fall of 2002, and used it first on my two hiking trips that autumn, Caprock Canyons in October, and Sand Animals in November.
Right away I was very pleased with the camera, particularly the color I got right out of the box, and the quality of the excellent 7.2-50.8mm f/2.8-3.5 lens. The sensor responded well to the use of a polarizer, though you had to trick the exposure system by locking it before you rotated the filter to the desire position.
In one of life’s crueler tricks, the DiMage 7i turned out to be a much better camera in most respects than the more expensive, higher-pixel-count Sony F828. I have one of each now, and have never liked what I get out of the Sony. The biggest flaw for the Sony was dreadful purple fringing, which never plagued the Minolta.
Over the years I bought and shot with cameras that were obvious replacements for the DiMage, but it always remained dear to my heart, particularly for long hikes when I needed a light load.
Eventually the 7i died, and I took it apart. Some years later, I thought I’d see what the 7i was fetching on Ebay, and when I saw them going for less than 10% of the original price I paid, I bought another one for occasions when I wanted a very small, light camera.