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Minolta Dimage 5

The "little brother" to the Dimage 7 - same great features, but 3.3 megapixels and a (much) lower price...

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Page 1:Intro and Highlights

Review First Posted: 9/14/2001

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3.34-megapixel CCD delivers uninterpolated images up to 2,056 x 1,544 pixels
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Tack sharp 7x optical zoom lens covers a 35-250mm equivalent focus range
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Ferroelectric LCD technology gives sharp electronic viewfinder image that is visible even at low light levels
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12-bit A/D conversion provides excellent tonal range

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Manufacturer Overview
Minolta Corporation is a traditional camera manufacturer of long experience, making a slow but calculated entry into the digital marketplace. Like its popular line of 35mm SLRs, the Maxxum Series, Minolta's Dimage Digital Cameras are developing a reputation for innovative technology in light metering, exposure control, and compact autofocus lens design. In 1996, Minolta introduced the Dimage V, the first digital camera with a detachable lens that enabled users to preview pictures with the camera body in one hand, while holding the lens at a distance in the other. Eventually Minolta developed the EX1500, a modular digital camera used as the framework for an amazingly effective 3D capture system, developed in partnership with the software firm MetaCreations (renamed Viewpoint Corporation in Fall 2000). In addition to conventional and digital cameras, Minolta manufactures high-quality light meters, spectrophotometers, colorimeters, and an award-winning line of film scanners, including the Dimage Scan Elite, Scan Dual II, and Scan Multi II.

Spring 2001 marked the introduction of three new Dimage digicam models -- each representing a separate price point to appeal to different segments of the digital market. The Dimage 7 is designed to appeal to serious photographers who want high resolution (5.24 megapixels), a long-range wide-angle-to-telephoto zoom lens (equivalent to 28-200mm), and a sophisticated user interface with extensive creative controls. The Dimage 5, reviewed here, is the middle-range model, with the same sophisticated controls, but a smaller 3.34-megapixel CCD and an expanded 35-250mm equivalent lens (due to the smaller CCD). Finally, the compact, autofocus Dimage S304, targeted for the amateur market, which shares the same microprocessor and most of the same technology, but with a 3.34-megapixel lens and 7x zoom lens equivalent to a 35-140mm on a 35mm camera. All three models are scheduled for release in the summer.


Highlights

  • 3.34-megapixel CCD delivering resolutions as high as 2,048 x 1,536 pixels.
  • 12-Bit A/D conversion.
  • Digital Hyper Electronic viewfinder with 90-degree variable position.
  • 1.8-inch TFT color LCD monitor.
  • 7x zoom, 7.2-50.8mm lens (equivalent to a 35-250mm lens on a 35mm camera) with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 to f/3.5, depending on the zoom setting.
  • 2x digital zoom.
  • Auto, Continuous AF, and Manual focus.
  • Macro setting at maximum telephoto.
  • Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, and Subject Program shooting modes.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to 4 seconds, with Bulb setting for longer exposures (up to 30 seconds).
  • 256 Multi-Segment, Center-Weighted, and Spot metering options, with AE Lock function.
  • Adjustable ISO with five settings.
  • Built-in, pop-up flash with three operating modes, a flash metering system, and adjustable intensity.
  • External flash hot shoe for Minolta accessory flash units.
  • Continuous Shooting, Interval, and Movie shooting modes.
  • Digital Effects Control for Exposure, Color Saturation, and Contrast compensation, with Digital Enhanced Bracketing.
  • Color and Black-and-White modes.
  • Three Sharpness settings.
  • RAW, uncompressed TIFF, JPEG and Motion JPEG file formats.
  • Images saved to CompactFlash Type I or II memory cards (16MB card included), Microdrive compatible.
  • USB cable and interface software for connecting to a computer and downloading images.
  • NTSC and PAL selectable video output signals, with cable included.
  • Power supplied by four AA batteries or separate AC adapter (available as an accessory).
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compliant.
  • PRINT Image Matching for optimum color from compatible Epson printers.


Differences from the Dimage 7
If you've read our review of the Dimage 7, you already know most everything there is to know about the Dimage 5. (So you can just skip directly to our test results.) Here's the sum total of differences between the Dimage 5 and its big brother, the Dimage 7:

  • 3.34-megapixel CCD vs 5.2 megapixels.
  • Equivalent focal length range is 35 - 250mm, vs 28 - 200 for the Dimage 7
  • Smaller CCD means less data to buffer: Typical buffer capacity is ~ 12 max-res shots vs 4 in Dimage 7
  • AF shutter lag tested out a bit faster. (But hard to explain why that would be, unless it's a matter of the CCD clocking data out a bit faster, AF system having less data to deal with.)
  • Shot to shot cycle times are somewhat faster.
  • The default color saturation seems to be a bit higher than the Dimage 7, a positive point, in our book.


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