Konica Minolta Dynax 5D
(Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D in the USA)
Review Date: October 20th 2005
Ease of Use
Weighing only 590g and measuring 130.5(W) x 92.5(H) x 66.5(D)mm, the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D is only marginally bigger and heavier than the Pentax ist DS and Canon Digital Rebel XT / EOS 350D, two of the smallest digital SLR cameras on the market. The 5D is also noticeably more diminutive in stature than its big brother, the Dynax 7D. Its small size and weight is due in part to the shiny all-plastic construction, although Konica Minolta have gone against a recent trend by using Compact Flash rather than the much smaller SD memory cards. Thankfully, despite all that plastic, the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D is very well-made with no cutting of corners. There's a deep, contoured handgrip on the right-hand side, coated in a rubberized compound to aid grip, that enabled me to use three fingers to hold it and my right forefinger to operate the shutter button. A section made from the same material on the back of the camera is positioned where your right thumb naturally rests. The overall styling of the camera is quite angular and I guess it could be described as "boxy", but don't let this put you off!
Although it costs the same kind of price as all the other entry-level DSLRs, the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D is quite a full-featured camera that offers more functionality than some of its direct competitors. This is reflected in the overall design of the camera. Konica Minolta have prevented the Dynax 5D from being too cluttered by keeping the number of external controls to a minimum, but there are still 21 in total. It's good to see dedicated buttons for ISO speed and a dial for white balance, features that are often buried in the menu system. The rather light and plasticky 18-70mm kit lens feels well-balanced on the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D and it fits into place with a reassuring mechanical click. This mechanical theme continues with the shutter release action on the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D, which is one of the loudest that I have heard on any camera - you will either love or hate this feature. I liked it, although it isn't great for close-up candid photography as your subject will undoubtedly hear you. Overall the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D feels solid and business-like, which is quite an achievement considering the aggressive price-point.
|Exposure Mode Dial / Timer Button / ISO Button||White Balance Dial|
The Konica Minolta Dynax 5D is very well-made, with most of the external controls feeling more expensive than they actually are. I really liked the built-in pop-up flash unit, which when opened is quite high above the camera, something that should help avoid red-eye. The metal shutter release button has a positive action, as do most of the other dials and switches. When you change the shooting mode on the camera, you first turn it on or press the shutter button, a summary of the settings is briefly displayed in a large, clear font on the main LCD screen, which is very useful for double-checking your settings before taking a photo. Even better, this display changes orientation when you tilt the camera from landscape to portrait, so that you can read it at all times! The Konica Minolta Dynax 5D does a very good job of providing easily understood information about the settings that it is using. The only aspects that betray the camera's aggressive price are the arrow pad controller and spot-AF button on the rear, which aren't very responsive and do feel cheap, and the fact that the large 2.5 inch LCD screen only has 115,000 pixels. Otherwise you really do get a lot for your money in terms of build-quality and overall design - this camera may be made of plastic, but it's still amazing that you can get this level of workmanship at this kind of price.
So far so good - now we come to an aspect of the camera that I am less enthusiastic about, namely the menu system. Konica Minolta have split the various menu settings into two, accessed by separate buttons on the rear of the camera. The Fn button allows you to set Af area, AF mode,, Metering Mode, Flash compensation and Colour settings. The Menu button then accesses all of the other menu options that the camera offers, although curiously there are only 2 main shooting menus, each with 4 options (the Setup, Custom and Play menus are also located here). I would personally prefer to see all the menu options consolidated in one place, so that I don't have to remember which specific option is in which of the two menus, especially as there is plenty of room in the main menu. Otherwise the menu system has a logical tabbed system and is easily readable, with a bright display and a large font size making it perfectly readable even in low light.
One of the main selling points of the Konica Minolta DiMAGE A200 that sets it apart for its competition is its unique CCD-shift anti-shake mechanism, which is also implemented on the more expensive Konica Minolta 7D DSLR camera. This allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras, and it works really well - you can see the results for yourself on the Image Quality page. From an ease of use point of view, enabling this feature couldn't be easier - simply slide the switch with the green hand on the rear of the camera. You don't notice that the camera is actually doing anything different when anti-shake is turned on, just that you can use slower shutter speeds than normal and still take sharp photos.
|Battery Compartment||Memory Card Compartment|
The start-up time of the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D, from turning the camera on to being ready to take a photo, is very quick for a DSLR at less than 1 second. Focusing is also quick and consistent in good light with the standard kit lens and the camera happily achieves focus indoors and in low-light situations. The AF Assist light can only be used if the built-in flash is raised though. The 18-70mm kit lens does have a rather noisy focusing mechanism, but if you are upgrading from a compact digicam you probably won't care too much as the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D focuses more quickly and with a higher hit rate. The very large 2.5 inch LCD screen is bright, clear and has a perfectly acceptable refresh rate, although the relatively low number of pixels does make it a bit grainy in appearance, and the viewfinder is a little on the dim side. It takes about 2 seconds to store a JPEG image at the highest quality setting with no discernible lockup between taking shots, allowing you to keep shooting as they are being recorded onto the memory card. For RAW images the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D takes about 5 seconds to store an image and there is also no lockup between shots until the buffer of 5 images is reached - at this point you can still see through the viewfinder but you can't fire the shutter until the buffer has cleared. In the continuous shooting mode you can hold down the shutter button and take 3 frames per second for up to 5 frames in RAW mode, 3 fps for up to 3 frames in RAW+JPEG mode and 3fps for up to 10 frames in Large/Fine JPEG mode.
Once you have captured a photo, the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D has an average range of options for playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can scroll through the images that you have taken, view thumbnails, zoom in and out of a specific image, and see fairly detailed information about each image by pressing the Up button. Importantly the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D offers a histogram after taking a photo (press the Up button) which is a great help in evaluating the exposure, plus any areas that are over-exposed flash on and off in the LCD preview to show you want you should be compensating for with your next attempt. You can also delete an image, view a slideshow, lock images so that they cannot be deleted, view a particular folder of images, and set various printing options.
In summary the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D is a light, compact, easy to use DSLR that is well-made with no corners being cut despite the low price-point.
PhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.