Pros: Wonderful AF features, great metering capability, durable design
Cons: A big investment; miss the pictograph mode dial on lower-end Minoltas
I've used several Minolta cameras, from manual focus SLRs to the autofocus Maxxum 400si. I've even used a Maxxum 9, the company's pro-level SLR, for awhile. When I heard about the Maxxum 7, however, I found this was the camera was the one I had to have. What makes the Maxxum 7 so appealing?
First of all, ergonomics. The Maxxum 7 is darn comfortable to hold, with most controls operable by your right forefinger or your right thumb. Especially helpful is the AF zone selector dial.
Second: Knobs. Now, I know a lot of the newer cameras are computer controlled, and the Maxxum 7 is no exception. For for ease of changing modes, there's nothing like a nice knob. Maxxum 7 has two, one for program mode and another for over- and under-exposure.
Third: The LCD panel. Why no one thought of this before, I don't know. This easy-to-see panel -- which even has a backlight -- changes its view depending if you are holding the camera horizontally or vertically. The LCD panel can also show you as much -- or as little -- as you want.
Fourth: Selectable autofocus zones. Controlled by the previously mentioned AF mode dial, this dial lets you select from nine AF zones, so you can choose precisely where the lens will focus. Because there is LED confirmation inside the viewfinder, this is very easy to use without even taking your eye from the viewfinder. I've used this for doing off-center portraits or high-speed action shots.
The Maxxum 7 has a wealth of expansion potential, particularly for remembering custom program modes, etc. Really, however, I've found this a little difficult to use and I get great pictures with the simply adjusting the aperture and shutter speed dials.
The Maxxum 7 isn't for the faint of heart, however, and is kind of a high-end camera for a starter SLR. If you're just starting out, you're better off with one of the entry-level cameras. These offer "picto" modes for selecting common modes, like "portrait", "action", etc.
Minolta lenses are very good, probably under-rated, compared to glass from Nikon, Sigma and others. I'm using the Maxxum AF Zoom 24-105mm, which is giving me excellent portraits and action shots.