Konica Minolta Dynax 5D
Konica Minolta’s new Dynax 5D rectifies some of the problems we found when its predecessor, the Dynax 7D was launched. Noticeably smaller and roughly 22% lighter than the 7D, it is very price-competitive in the current market. No compromise has been made on functionality and the 5D has as many controls as some professional cameras, while providing easy-to-use features more commonly found on compact digicams. . . [more]
Quality rating (out of 10):Build: 9.0Ease of use: 8.5Image quality: 8.0Value for money: 9.0
Konica Minolta’s new Dynax 5D rectifies some of the problems we found when its predecessor, the Dynax 7D was launched. Noticeably smaller and roughly 22% lighter than the 7D, it is very price-competitive in the current market. No compromise has been made on functionality and the 5D has as many controls as some professional cameras, while providing easy-to-use features more commonly found on compact digicams.
The camera’s polycarbonate body is comfortable to hold. The rubberised grip appears to be slightly squarer than the 7D’s and the battery compartment has been re-orientated to fit into it. The battery itself is the same NP-400 lithium-ion battery and the camera is supplied with the same charger and cord. The silver metallic shutter button is now easier to see than the black button on the 7D but its position – and that of the control dial in front of it – is essentially unchanged.
Other features inherited from the 7D include the proprietary CCD-shift Anti-Shake image stabilisation system – which really works and is a great asset when shooting in dim light or using telephoto lenses. Konica Minolta claims it lets users shoot at shutter speeds that are 2-3 EV slower than would normally be required, which is not far off the mark. The focus area is also switchable between Wide Focus Area (9 points, 8 lines with centre cross) and Spot Focus Point. Predictive Focus Control is provided for tracking moving subjects.
The navigation-style menu display – which Konica Minolta pioneered – pops up on the 2.5-inch LCD when you switch the camera on but turns off when the shutter release is pressed. The menu’s design has been changed slightly to position key settings like ISO and colour mode more visibly. The playback mode has a new Luminance Limit Display, which allows users to view highlights and shadows where detail will be lost and produces a blinking grey/white overlay on these areas when shots are displayed. AE bracketing is also included.
The Dynax 5D’s image sensor is the same as the 7D’s and produces 3008×2000 pixel files with 6.1-megapixel resolution. Simultaneous RAW+JPEG capture is supported and RAW images are saved in Minolta’s *.MRW format, which is readable by popular third-party RAW converters like Adobe Camera Raw and Raw Shooter Essentials. This is a decided advantage over some other manufacturers’ current RAW files.
Other constant features include the camera’s base panel (which is slightly ridged with a central metal-lined tripod socket) and depth-of-field preview button. The pull-up flash appears to be slightly longer in the 5D but its specifications are the same as for the 7D. An external hot-shoe sits under a slide-off plastic cover, but it’s only compatible with for Konica Minolta flash units. Both the on-camera and external flash units can double as an AF illuminator.
Some significant changes have been made to the camera’s controls as well as the layout of some dials and buttons – most of them beneficial. For starters, the top panel is more user-friendly, with the 7D’s complex exposure/flash compensation dial being replaced with a white balance dial and button that is easier to use and better positioned than the 7D’s button-plus-lever control. However, no functionality is lost because the new white balance control largely replicates the functions on the 7D’s WB dial.
The main mode dial carries settings for full auto, P, A, S and M exposure modes plus icons for the portrait, sports, landscape, sunset and night portrait Digital Subject Program modes. The inclusion of a sunset mode is interesting as this subject is consistently popular with photo hobbyists. Buttons for accessing the drive modes and ISO settings are also located here.
The main control wheel on the rear panel has been moved downwards to make way for a larger thumb pad, which complements the grip. The 7D’s metering, continuous/single AF, flash compensation and AF area selection controls have all been replaced by menus selected via the ‘Fn’ button, which provides faster and easier access to these frequently-used settings. This button sits beside the EV +/- and AE Lock buttons on the upper rear panel.
A new Colour/DEC (Digital Effects Control) mode gives users direct access to both the scene settings and colour controls. Selectable only in the P, A, S and M exposure modes it adds Natural Colour, Natural Plus (with boosted contrast and saturation), B&W, Adobe RGB and Embedded Adobe RGB to the scene settings. The latter embeds the colour space in the image data in JPEG files.
The AF/MF slider has been moved to just below the lens release button, a much more sensible place. The AE lock button has also been shifted sideways. The 5D includes Konica Minolta’s proprietary CxProcess III and Advanced LSI engine image processing technologies, which we suspect have been tweaked a little since the release of the 7D. Another improvement is the proprietary Zone Matching exposure control system, which reduces the risk of incorrect exposures.
Only a few functions are missing. Resolution on the LCD has been reduced to 115,000 pixels – although you’d be hard pressed to notice much difference – and you can only magnify played-back shots by a maximum of 4.7x. However, you can now magnify RAW files; not just JPEGs.
The 5D’s buffer memory is smaller than the 7D’s and the burst rate is slightly slower, with actual capture speeds depending on image size and resolution. Also missing are multiple-exposure capabilities and a Time Lapse shooting mode and when you use the self-timer it has to be engaged before each shot instead of remaining set until you disengage it as in most other DSLRs. The USB port is only ‘full speed’ (up to 54 Mbps) not Hi-speed and, like many entry-level DSLRs, the monitor has to double as a data display.
The Dynax 5D is supplied with DiMAGE Master Lite, the same software as high-end DiMAGE digicams come with. It’s straightforward and easy to use, with some convenient features like side-by-side viewing of selected images and most of the adjustments you need to tweak images before editing them. Controls are provided for sharpness, tone curves and exposure compensation; contrast and RGB colour balance; hue, saturation and lightness; white balance; colour space selection and filter and colour effects and a dust removal facility is also provided. Converted images can be output as TIFF (8- or 16-bit), JPEG, BMP, PICT or PNG files.
The software disk also contains Kodak EasyShare software, a simple utility that helps users to organise, print and share pictures. More sophisticated users may find this application too automated but it could be just the ticket for novice users and, if you don’t like it, the camera will work perfectly well without it.
With the supplied 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 (D) lens, the Dynax 5D was a pleasure to use, being well balanced and solid in the hands. Dial controls locked in settings positively and the zoom on the lens was smooth and sure. In use, the camera delivered well-exposed, gently saturated shots with reasonably accurate – although slightly warm – colour reproduction. The built-in flash also performed well and handled a wide range of subject distances without over- or under-exposing, even with the lens set to 18mm. The AF-assist and Red Eye reduction functions were also effective.
Low light shots were clean and colour accurate, with noise barely visible up to ISO 800 and well-contained noise at higher sensitivities. No stuck pixels were detected.
The white balance system also performed well across a wide range of lighting types and the adjustability of this function meant that virtually any type of colour cast could be corrected in the camera.
The kit lens was a good partner to the camera body, producing adequate (but not exceptional) sharpness across its focal length range. Barrel distortion was noticeable at its widest setting but no pincushioning was seen at the tele position. Imatest detected a low level of lateral chromatic aberration throughout the zoom range, but it was close to negligible at the 35mm focal length. It is doubtful whether this problem would affect normal picture-taking. No purple fringing was seen in outdoor shots.
Overall image quality at the default sharpen setting of 0 was slightly soft and this may account for the low SFR readings in our Imatest results. Sharpening the images in editing software produced a visible improvement without adding noticeable sharpening artefacts. This proved a marginally better solution than in-camera sharpening, especially with bright and contrasty outdoor lighting.
Camera response times were generally very good. Powering-up and shutting-down took roughly one second and capture lag averaged 0.4 seconds. With pre-focusing, lag times were too brief to measure accurately. Shot-to-shot times averaged just over one second with JPEGs and exactly one second for RAW files. At top JPEG resolution, the burst mode captured six shots at 0.3 second intervals and it took less than three seconds to clear the buffer.
The Dynax 5D will also be offered as a twin lens kit with an additional 75-300mm lens for a recommended retail price of $1499. 
Image sensor: 23.5 x 15.7 mm interline primary colour CCD with 6.3 million photosites (6.1 megapixels effective)
Lens mount: Minolta A-type bayonet
Lens multiplier factor: 1.5x
Image formats: JPEG (Exif 2.21), RAW, JPEG+RAW
Shutter speed range: 30-1/4000 sec plus Bulb
ISO range: Auto, ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
Dimensions (wxhxd): 130.5 x 92.5 x 66.5 mm (body only)
Weight: approx. 590 g (body only)
Focus system/modes: TTL phase-detection AF; wide-area AF, Spot AF, Focus area selection (9 areas), Predictive focus control, auto tracking focus point display; manual focus.
Exposure metering/control: TTL metering with multi-segment, centre-weighted and spot modes: P, A, S and M exposure modes plus 5 Digital Subject Programs.
White balance: Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Flash, Custom, Colour temperature (2500 to 9900 K with 19-step magenta/green compensation)
Flash GN (m at ISO 200): 12
Sequence shooting: 3 fps for 5 frames RAW or 3 frames RAW+JPEG
Storage Media: CompactFlash (Type I/II), Microdrive, SD/MMC (with optional SD-CF1) No card supplied.
Viewfinder: Eye-level pentaprism with 0.83x magnification; 95% field of view; diopter adjustment -2.5 to +1.0 m-1
LCD monitor: 2.5-inch TFT colour display with 115,000 pixels
PC interface: USB Full-speed (12 Mbps data transfer with a USB 2.0 computer)
Power supply: NP-400 lithium-ion battery
Digital cameras, lenses and accessories with 100% genuine Australian manufacturer’s warranties.
Ph: (02) 9029 2219
Ph: 133 686
The largest speciality photographic retail chain in Australia.
CameraPro Pty Ltd
Suite 607, 180 Queen St, Brisbane 4000
Tel: 07 3333 2900
Australian owned and run company based in Brisbane.
Retailer of digital camera equipment and more.
Secure online shopping and delivery across Australia.
Ph: 1300 727 056
Ph: 1800 155 067
Digital Camera Warehouse
174 Canterbury Road 367 High Street
NSW 2193 VIC 3070
Ph: 1300 365 220
1300 801 885
Australian retailer of Vapex rechargeable batteries offering factory direct prices and fast, free shipping Australia wide.
Photographic Equipment & Supplies – Retail & Repairs. Click here for list of stores.
1800 186 895
Big range of cameras and photographic products with stores in most states and online.