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Konica Minolta Dynax 5D / Maxxum 5D - Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 19/10/05
Rating: Highly Recommended
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Introduction: Announced on the 15th of July, the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D / Maxxum 5D is Konica Minolta's "budget" digital SLR - it's 22% smaller than the Dynax 7D / Maxxum 7D, and retains the anti-shake CCD sensor enabling image stabilisation for all lenses attached to the camera, this should allow blur free low-light / long zoom photography. The 7D and 5D will take all Dynax / Maxxum AF lenses, past, present and future. The Dynax / Maxxum 5D is available for £500 excluding lens, and £550 including 18-70 kit lens, this makes it excellent value for money as one of the lowest priced DSLR's currently available. The Konica Minolta AF DT 18-70 kit lens is equivelant to 27 – 105mm on a 35mm camera, giving the lens a useful 3.8x optical zoom. The camera is enclosed in a black plastic body. As will all digital SLRs, the camera does not record videos! The camera seems fairly compact for a DSLR, but compared to your average point and shoot camera, it seems very big, heavy and bulky. The camera takes a rechargable lithium-ion battery and measures: 130.5 x 92.5 x 66.5mm (without protruding parts), and weighs 590g (without batteries and memory card)

Konica Minolta have this to say about the camera:

"Following the release of the award winning Konica Minolta Dynax 7D, Konica Minolta isproud to announce the Dynax 5D, a high-performance interchangeable-lens digital SLR camera that combines Konica Minolta’s advanced technologies and greater ease of use into a smaller and lighter design.

The Dynax 5D ensures photo-imaging excellence using Konica Minolta’s proprietary award winning Anti-Shake technology, utilising an exclusive CCD-Shift mechanism to compensate for blurring caused by camera shake – even when taking photos in dimly lit scenes, in natural light with a telephoto lens, or in macro shots where extra stability is vital for a sharpshot. This innovative Anti-Shake technology not only provides the equivalent correctioneffect with a shutter speed 2 to 3 stops slower, but also compatibility with any Dynax system lenses."

You can find more information on their website, or in the press release.

The Camera: a visual tour: (Photos of the camera taken with the Panasonic Lumix FZ3)


Front - Camera off, lens off.


Front - Camera with kit lens attached, infra-red, depth of field preview button (bottom left of lens).


Back - on/off, menu, display, delete, play, optical viewfinder (with Diopter-adjustment dial), the 2.5" TFT screen, function button, exposure, (zoom control in playback mode), AE Lock button / slow sync, 4-way controller / AF button, anti-shake on/off switch, DC in port.


Top (from back): White balance dial and button, Flash hotshoe, Mode dial, jog-dial, shutter release, shooting mode, ISO button.


Top - manual pop-up flash.


Bottom, under the camera there is a metal tripod mount, and battery compartment.


Left Side (from back) AF/MF selector, Remote port, lens release.


Memory card / Video out connection compartment.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized 35mm film camera.


Size comparison.


Size comparison: The ultra compact / ultra slim Dimage X1 on the left featurings anti-shake CCD and optics, the medium sized ultra-zoom Panasonix Lumix FZ3 in the middle featuring optical image stabilisation, and the Dynax 5D on the right, featuring anti-shake CCD. (taken with the Pentax Optio S55)

Specifications / Features:

  • 6 megapixel resolution
  • Body integrated anti-shake system
  • 2.5" screen
  • Simple operation in a stylish, compact and lightweight package
  • Comprehensive image adjustment and control.
  • 22% smaller than the Dynax 7D in Volume
  • 3 frames per second
  • ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
  • 9 Point AF
  • Navigation Display
  • Minolta A-type bayonet mount

Box Contents:

  • Digital Camera
  • Wide strap
  • USB Cable
  • Video cable
  • Battery charger
  • Lithium-Ion Battery
  • Software CD-Rom
  • Printed manual

Decent box contents - the kit lens is very good, with more range than most other manufacturers kit lenses. Due to no memory card being supplied with the camera you will need to buy a memory card (see below for suitable memory cards).

Battery usage: Up to 550 / 700 pictures with the supplied battery according to CIPA / Konica Minolta testing. Battery life seemed very good - due to the built in anti-shake and high ISO options it should be possible to have very good battery life by not needing to use the flash.

Menu Options / Modes: The camera mode is selected using the top dial.

Photo mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right below:

Photo mode (default screen) Photo Menu

Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown on the left) The screen resolution with 115,000 pixels is about average, as with all (current) Digital SLRs the screen doesn't display the view you are about to take a photo of, you have to look through the optical viewfinder. The screen is clear and the text and menus are easy to read.

Optical Viewfinder: The optical viewfinder is a decent size - much better than optical viewfinders on compact digital cameras - there's also a diopter-adjustment dial. The optical viewfinder displays the following at the bottom of the view: Focus, Shutter speed, Aperture speed, exposure compensation, buffer, shake-warning (low shutter speed), anti-shake amount.

Photo menu options: Image size, Quality, Instant playback, Noise reduction (for exposures of 1 second or above), Flash mode, Flash control (Fill-flash, Red-eye, rear-sync, wireless), Bracket order, reset.

Function menu Drive mode

Fuction menu (shown above, left): AF area (wide, spot, focus area selection), AF mode (single-shot AF, direct manual focus, automatic AF, contunuous AF), Metering mode (multi, center, spot), Flash compensation, Colour / DEC (colour mode ie: Natural, Natural plus, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, Night, Night portrait, Black and white, AdobeRGB, EmbedAdobeRGB, plus contrast, saturation and sharpness settings)

Drive mode (shown above, right): Single-frame / Continuous advance, 10/2 second self-timer, Bracket 0.3/0.7 continuous or single, Bracket white balance (lo or high).

Config menu Setup menu (blue)

Config menu options: Priority setup, Focus hold button, AEL button, Ctrl dial set, Exposure compensation set, AF illiminator, shutter lock, AF area setup, monitor display, record display, playback display.

Setup menu options: LCD Brightness, transfer mode, video output, audio signals, language, date/time set, file memory, folder name, select folder / new folder, lcd backlight, power save, menu sec memory, delete confirmation, clean CCD, reset default.

Playback (Review) mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right, below:

Playback mode (mouse-over for extra info) Playback Menu

Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is quick. The zoom is quick. Playback mode displays limited photo information initially, but pressing the up arrow displays additional information, as shown above when you place the mouse over the image.

Playback menu options: Delete, Format, view folder, lock, index format, slide show, DPOF set / date imprint / index print / cancel print.

Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of images will fit a 512mb memory card:

Image Size: Number of Photos Stored / Quality
  RAW RAW+JPEG Extra Fine Fine Standard
6mp (3008x2000) 53 39 82 163 277
3mp (2256x1496) N/A 44 145 282 470
1.5mp (1504x1000) N/A 48 314 584 926

You can fit a decent number of images on a 512mb memory card - a large memory card is definitely recommended, unless you want to use the lower image sizes / higher compression options in order to fit more pictures in memory. There is a good choice of image sizes, and a good choice regarding image compression.

A large memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 256mb memory card, and preferably a 512mb memory card, or larger, especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Konica Minolta Dynax / Maxxum 5D:

Find the latest prices for Compact Flash memory cards at Amazon.co.uk: 256mb: £13.71, 512mb: £22.99, 1gb (1000mb): £42.99, 2gb (2000mb): £130.
Need more help deciding what memory card to buy? Have a look at our guide to digital camera memory cards or our article what size memory card should I buy?

Speed: The camera is very quick to switch on and take photos, being ready in roughly one second. Focusing seemed quick even in low-light. The playback mode is also quick. The camera shutter response seemed quick when pre-focused - and shot to shot time was very quick. The flash recharge time was quick. The cameras menu's seemed quick. Continuous shooting is very quick, offering 3 frames per second.


Konica Minolta Dynax Maxxum 5D in use.

Ease of use: The camera is very easy to use, especially in AUTO mode, or one of the scene modes, even though the camera has a lot of options. The controls on the back of the camera are quite straight forward - the menus are very responsive and easy to read and navigate. The camera is fairly compact for a Digital SLR, although compared to a film SLR or a point and shoot digital camera, the 5D is quite chunky. The menus are also easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple, mainly thanks to the right number of dials and buttons on the camera (the options aren't hidden away in menus which makes it easier to use). Most functions can be worked out without having to refer to the manual.

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are fairly easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seem to be the right amount of buttons - and dials allowing easy access to the most commonly used functions and features. The buttons feel okay, the shutter release is quite decent. The buttons are labelled fairly well. I thought the camera felt good ergonomically, with a good size hand grip. The zoom ring on the lens allows for precise control over the zoom amount. The camera feels like a solid, robust and well built camera even though the camera body is plastic.

Image Quality: Here are some sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Noise, Outside, Zoom, Macro, to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D / Maxxum 5D Sample Photo Gallery!

Inside:

Heather and Flower Group photo (flash off)

Inside: The camera has very good colour - It took a very good "Heather and Flower" photo - there is no red-eye in this photo! It has a decent flash, and copes well with group photos. The camera did a good very job at focusing even in low-light. I didn't see any red-eye. Noise is very low.

Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and manual ISO settings (ISO: Lo 80, 100, 200, Hi200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200) - below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings.

ISO Noise Test Photo - Flash on ISO80 - Actual Pixels
ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels
ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels
ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO3200 - Actual Pixels

Noise levels are very very low upto ISO400, and at ISO800, they are still low. At ISO1600 noise is quite low but noticable, and at ISO3200 noise is much more noticable. ISO1600 photos should be acceptable without any post processing, but people may prefer to use noise reduction on ISO3200 photos.

Anti-shake effectiveness: Here are some test photos taken with Anti-shake on and off - these photos were taken without flash in low light.

Anti-Shake On Anti-Shake Off
1/2 second, f5.6, ISO400 1/2 second, f5.6, ISO400

As you can see - anti-shake is very effective for low-light, slow shutter speed photography allowing blur free photos. Anti-shake is also very effective when used with telephoto lenses.

Outside:

Shops Heather and a Shetland Pony

Outside, the camera had very good colour, with good contrast and saturation. There was good detail, although some images were slightly soft. Noise seemed very low. I didn't notice jpeg artefacts in the images.

Zoom: The kit lens provided with the Dynax 5D has a 3.8x optical zoom lens and, like every other Digital SLR, it has no digital zoom - I've included examples below to show what the zoom range of the kit lens is:

Wide-angle 3.8x Optical zoom

Exposure / Metering on the photos of the clock tower seems quite good, with the dark areas of the photo not too dark, and the bright areas of the photo still visible. However better results could probably be obtained by changing the exposure compensation or switching the metering mode.

Lens noise and zoom: The lens is practically silent. The shutter is quite noticably loud, especially when compared to a silent digital camera (with all default sounds turned off). The manual zoom control on the lens allows you to set the zoom amount precisely so as to allow you to frame your subject exactly how you want.

Other Image Quality issues: I couldn't find any purple fringing or vignetting in the photos I took - impressive! Exposure was generally good, however I often had to adjust exposure compensation manually to ensure correct exposure - pictures with bright sky often left the landscape dark. One way I dealt with this was to use bracket 0.7 exposure compensation, this took 3 photos, one at default exposure, one at -0.7 (darker), and one at +0.7 (lighter), this meant I could choose the best exposure.

Macro: You can use the flash in macro mode. With the kit lens, the camera can be roughly as close as 15cm away from the subject from the front of the lens in wide or telephoto setting.

Macro Red Berries Actual Pixels (sharpened)

The macro mode is good - colour and detail is good, and the camera allows you to get quite close to the subject. Images did seem a bit soft - and benefitted from sharpening. Macro mode can be dramatically improved by purchasing a lens specifically designed for taking Macro photos.

Movie: Just like every other Digital SLR, the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D does not record videos.

Conclusion

Image Quality: Image quality is very good, the images have very good colour, saturation, contrast and detail - with very low noise. Most images were quite soft, and image weren't as saturated as many point and shoot cameras, turning saturation and sharpness up in-camera may help acheive photos with more punch. Quite a few images appeared under exposed, especially when the sky was bright, so exposure compensation should be used to acheive the best results (or alternatively shoot in RAW). The camera did a good job focusing even in low light. I did not notice vignetting in photos, nor did I notice barrel or pincushion distortion. There is a good range of image sizes and a good choice of compression options. The macro mode is good, and provides good detail and colour. Auto white balance and metering seemed to be good the majority of the time, however quick access to white balance and exposure compensation allows any problems to be remedied quickly. Red-eye was practially non-existant. There is no movie mode (this is normal on a DSLR).

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is fairly compact for a Digital SLR, but large compared to point and shoot digital cameras. The camera feels well built. The camera is easy to use, the menu system is easy to use and there is a very good layout of buttons and controls, with the majority on the outside of the camera (rather than hidden in menus). The camera speed is very good, with an very good switch on time, good focusing time, good shutter response, good flash recharge time, quick playback mode, quick menus, and very quick continuous shooting.

Value for Money: The Konica Minolta Dynax 5D / Maxxum 5D is excellent value for money, from around £500 including the kit lens, it's roughly the same price as the 6 megapixel Nikon D50 and Pentax *ist DS/DL, although the Konica Minolta has the added benefits of an anti-shake CCD sensor, and a kit lens with slightly more zoom range (3.8x compared to 3x on the Nikon and Pentax). Having said that, the Dynax 5D faces stiff competition from the 8 megapixel Canon EOS 350D, Olympus E-300 and the new Olympus E-500. Alternative digital cameras: See more digital camera reviews sorted by megapixels here.

Summary: Film SLRs typically produce much higher quality photos than standard point and shoot films cameras, and the same goes for Digital SLRs. If you're in the market for a Digital SLR, then the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D / Maxxum 5D is an excellent choice, being both easy to use, and capable, image quality is excellent with very low-noise, anti-shake works very well, and the camera with kit lens is excellent value for money - however if you are more used to compact digital / film cameras, then I would highly recommend you try the camera out first at a local store to make sure you feel comfortable with the weight and size of the camera.

Konica Minolta Dynax 5D / Maxxum 5D Rating: Highly Recommended
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Digital SLR benefits / compared to compact point and shoot digital cameras:

  • Extremely clear through the lens viewfinder
  • Changable lenses, specifically designed for specific purposes, eg Wide-angle, Macro, Telephoto etc
  • Quick shot to shot time (generally better than most compact point and shoot digital cameras)
  • Extremely low noise / higher ISO range compared to compact digital cameras
  • Less depth of field (useful to highlight only the intended subject)
  • Highest attainable image quality, thanks to large sensor (low noise), and wide variety of high quality lenses
  • Generally much longer battery life

What I like:

  • Built in Anti-Shake CCD allows excellent blur free low-light handheld photos.
  • Excellent colour
  • Excellent image quality
  • Quick operation, especially quick switch on time, and continuous shooting mode
  • Red-eye free photos
  • Auto-rotates display (for portait photography)
  • Automatically switches off screen when looking through the viewfinder
  • Good zoom range kit lens - from wide (27mm) to telephoto (105mm equiv.)
  • Very low-noise upto ISO400/800, some noise in ISO1600 images, but still usable. (At ISO3200 noise is much lower than many point and shoot cameras at ISO400)
  • Very good value for money

What I don't like:

  • Slightly low-resolution screen (115k pixels)
  • Some exposure problems (requires more thought and knowledge - can be fixed later if shooting in RAW)
  • Default photos slightly soft with kit lens - however, they sharpen very well, and sharpness can be altered in camera

Remember to have a look at the test photos in the new gallery.