For those trading up from a high-end digital compact or moving across from film SLR photogrpahy, the range of D-SLRs on the market has grown amazingly quickly, almost as fast as their prices have dropped.
Enter the Konica Minolta Dynax 5D, technically a slimmed down version of it’s larger brother, the Dynax 7D, it features almost all of that model's specification and panache, but with a slightly modified body; it’s plastic, with simplified controls. This combines to make it one of the better-specified budget D-SLRs on the market.
Features of note include the company's proprietary CCD Anti Shake system where the CCD moves to counteract camera shake. Other manufacturers fit anti-shake technology within their lenses; with the Dynax it’s built into the body, so all the lenses you have can benefit.
Konica Minolta’s highly rated CXProcess III image processing algorithm is there as standard, which basically helps to get tip top results and speeds up image processing, getting the shots off the sensor and into the memory as quickly as possible. A 3fps (up to 10 frames) burst mode seems slow but works quite well with only short pauses once the buffer is full as space in the buffer is freed up.
Another neat feature is the large 2.5 inch colour screen on the camera’s back. It displays all the camera’s settings and acts as the main camera feature navigation device. It also boasts an orientation sensor so when the camera is turned the display flips round too. Very cool indeed.
In addition, when reviewing snapped images, the large screen helps judge your shots or show them to others if running a slide show. Images are stored on CompactFlash Type I/II removable memory housed in a slot behind and to the right side of the main handgrip.
Other main controls include a single control dial for adjusting settings such as shutter speeds and apertures while a large mode dial on the top plate provides fast access to all the manual control and five subject program modes that include landscape, portrait and night scene modes. Moreover, you get the ubiquitous full-auto mode as well.
A separate dial on the other side of the newly-developed-for-compactness roof-mirror pentaprism viewfinder gives comprehensive white balance control and presets which provide some of the best performance I’ve seen from a D-SLR at the budget end. The aforementioned pentaprism viewfinder also houses a pull-up built-in flash with a GN of 12 at ISO 100.
In terms of image quality, noise minimal - even at the higher ISO settings, which range from ISO 100-3200. The Anti Shake system provides up to around three stops of shutter speed in low light (though it will not elimate camera shake completely at very slow shutter speeds) helping keep things sharp, and the camera’s AF set-up works extremely well too.
14-segment Honeycomb metering is very accomplished in most condtions, although I found it has centre of frame bias, making high contrast scenes (say a bright sky and dark foreground) over and under expose respectively. Exposure compensation is in there to help in such tricky suituations however.
This highlighted the fact that some high contrast images shot using the camera’s subject modes provided very overblown highlights. However, JPEG and simulteanous RAW and JPEG capture provides plenty of scope for image capture, depending on the size of the storage you’re using, while RAW captures means you can sort any potential image problems later on PC.
The Konica Minoilta Dynax 5D makes an ideal D-SLR for those not already locked into another system camera or movng across from film or simply trading up from a digital compact. The level of spec is pretty much class leading while image quality, handling, and its combination of other features mean this a D-SLR that should come at or very near the top of your wish list, if you're thinking of buying into D-SLR photography.