Minolta Dimage 5The "little brother" to the Dimage 7 - same great features, but 3.3 megapixels and a (much) lower price...
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Dimage 5 Sample ImagesReview First Posted: 9/14/2001
|We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!|
|NOTE: The Dimage 5's default color space is a proprietary one, which gives it a larger color gamut relative to that of cameras using the sRGB standard. The result though, is that it's unmodified images look somewhat flat and undersaturated when viewed on a monitor conforming to sRGB standards. ALL of the images below have been processed through Minolta's Dimage Viewer program, to convert them to the sRGB space. (This is the only modification made though.) For those readers interested in seeing the original camera images, without the Dimage Viewer processing applied, we've provided a second, "Raw" Thumbnail page, with links to all the original files.)|
|Outdoor Portrait: (569 k)
The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why we set it up this way. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Dimage 5 performed pretty well, but lost highlight detail when we boosted exposure enough to get good-looking midtones. The shot at right has a +1.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which still left some of the midtones darker than we'd have liked.
We shot with the Auto (558 k), Daylight (558 k), and Manual (556 k) white balance settings, choosing the Auto setting for our main shot (Daylight appeared slightly cool and magenta, and Manual resulted in a warmer, yellowish image). Overall color looks good, though slightly flat, with nearly accurate skin tones. The blue flowers have a deep purple tint though, the Dimage 7 falling prey to this common digicam failing on this test. (These blues are often difficult for digicams to reproduce correctly). Resolution and detail both look good, with strong detail in the shadows.
Interested readers can see the results of a range of EV adjustments by checking the D5's Thumbnail Page, and examining files D5OUTAP0-4. These range from EV adjustments of +0 to +1.3, in steps of roughly 0.3EV units each.
Like it's big brother the Dimage 7, the Dimage 5 gives the user very fine-grained adjustments for contrast and color saturation. In the case of the contrast adjustment though, we saw relatively little variation between steps, with the sole exception of the highest setting. (At least, with this test subject.) The series below shows the effect of contrast variations.
Fine-grained saturation adjustment is another feature shared with the Dimage 7. Unlike the contrast adjustment, this control worked quite well with this subject. The Dimage cameras' default color is a little flat for our tastes, but a boost of one or two notches on the color saturation control brings it right up to where we like it. Changing the saturation doesn't help the tendency to push the blue flowers to purple though. (FWIW, this effect seems to be confined to these particular blues, the MacBeth chart in the DaveBox test shows no such tendency.) The effect of the saturation adjustment is a little hard to see on the small thumbnails below, click on any to see the full-sized image. (Look at the skin tones below, to get an idea of the magnitude of the effect.) For space reasons, we skipped a couple of steps between the first and second and fourth and fifth images in the table.
|Closer Portrait: (501 k)
The Dimage 5 also performed well in this close-up shot, and the 7x zoom lens helps prevent any distortion of the model's features. Resolution is even higher in this shot, with outstanding detail in the face and hair. Color again looks good, with pretty accurate skin tones. Detail is also very strong in the shadow areas, with low noise, although contrast is high and detail is lost in the strong highlights of the shirt. Our main shot was taken with no exposure adjustment, as this shot typically requires less exposure compensation than the wider portrait above.
Interested readers can see the results of a range of EV adjustments by checking the D5's Thumbnail Page, and examining files D5FACAP0-3. These range from EV adjustments of +0 to +1.0, in steps of roughly 0.3EV units each.
|Indoor Portrait, Flash: (417 k)
The Dimage 5's built-in flash did a bit too good a job of illuminating the subject, overpowering the subject and drastically overexposing the shot. The Dimage 5 produced the best results when the exposure compensation was decreased to -1.3 EV, which is surprising, given we normally have to increase the exposure for this shot. The background incandescent lighting produced a slight orange cast, but lighting on the model is quite good. Color is nearly accurate and well-saturated, though the blue flowers again appear purple.
The Dimage 5's Thumbnail Page has some examples of other EV adjustments on the flash for this shot. See the files D5INFM0, 3, 4, 5. - These have adjustments of 0, --1.0, -1.3, and -1.7 respectively.
Portrait, No Flash: (397 k)
This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting, and the Dimage 5's white balance system handled the challenge well. While the Auto (449 k) white balance setting produced a slightly warm cast, the Incandescent (417 k) and Manual (419 k) settings produced more accurate results. We chose the Incandescent setting because it produced the most natural color balance (IOHO), retaining some of the natural warmth of the original scene. We selected a +0.7 EV exposure adjustment for our main shot. Color looks good, though the blue flower petals are completely purple.
Check the Dimage 5's Thumbnail Page has for examples of other EV adjustments for this shot. See the files D5INTP0-3 for adjustments from 0 to +1.0 EV in roughly 0.3 EV steps.
The Dimage 5 has ISO options reaching as high as ISO 800, but we really didn't feel the ISO 800 setting was very useful, given the high noise levels with it. We felt noise levels at 100-400 were fairly typical of the general run of 3 megapixel cameras we've tested.
|House Shot: (839 k)
We chose the Manual (839 k) white balance setting for our main selection, as it produced the most accurate color and white value. The Daylight (851 k) setting resulted in a warm image, and Auto (848 k) produced a slightly cool image. (Actually, color balance is a hint warm with the Manual setting, but we preferred the more natural color.) Resolution is very high, with reasonably sharp details throughout the frame. Great job!
|Far-Field Test (814 k)
This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.
This is our ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this. The Dimage 5 captured great detail throughout the frame, with nice clarity and sharpness. The fine foliage details are slightly soft, but still well-defined. The quality of the Dimage 5's lens shows in how sharp the corners are, and how little chromatic aberration is visible anywhere. (Excellent lens!)
We also measure a camera's dynamic range here, and noticed that the Dimage 5 had some trouble with the bright glare of the sunny bay window. Only the starkest details are visible, and the edge of the trim glows. The shadow areas under the porch and in the shade of the tree (at right) show much stronger detail, with the brick and shrubbery patterns reasonably clear and distinct. The table below shows our resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, contrast, sharpness, and saturation series.
An ISO series as above, similar results, although the ISO 800 setting is really to high for this bright daylit scene.
A contrast series again also. (We've again chopped out a step between the 1st and 2nd, 4th and 5th shots. See the Thumbnail Page for all the images. - D4FARCON1-7) On this subject, the contrast control worked quite well, across its full range. We noticed that it seemed to have more effect in the shadows than the highlights though, we'd really like to see it affect both ends of the tone scale equally.
A saturation series again as well. (We've again chopped out a step between the 1st and 2nd, 4th and 5th shots. See the Thumbnail Page for all the images. - D4FARSAT1-7) As before, a nice range of variation, in very small steps. Differences here are fairly subtle, again are more evident in the full-size images. Check the color of the bricks on the house, color of the grass though, to get an idea. Our personal preference is for one or two notches up as a standard setting for routine use.
|Lens Zoom Range
We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to present you here with the following series of shots, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide angle, the lens at full 7x telephoto, and the lens at full telephoto with digital zoom enabled. The Dimage 5's lens covers a range equivalent to a 35-250mm zoom on a 35mm film camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Poster (627 k)
For this test, we shot with the Auto
(620 k), Daylight (632 k), and Manual
(627 k) white balance settings, choosing the Manual setting as the most
accurate. Daylight resulted in a slightly warm image, and the Auto setting
produced nearly accurate results, though skin tones are too pale. Color
looks very nice (if slightly warm), with an accurate blue on the Oriental
model's robe (this is a tough blue for many digicams to get right, and
sometimes has a purplish tint). Resolution is high, with good detail in
the embroidery of the blue robe.
|Macro Shot (613
The Dimage 5 performed exceptionally well in the
macro category, capturing a minimum area of just 1.63 x 1.22 inches (41.37
x 31.03 millimeters). Color, resolution, and detail are all excellent.
The brooch and coin details are soft due to a limited depth of field,
but the details of the dollar bill are outstanding. Though the image is
slightly overexposed, we're amazed at the Dimage 5's ability to throttle
down the flash (794 k) at this very close range.
Camera flash typically becomes ineffective at such a short shooting distance,
so the Dimage 5 performed surprisingly well in this regard.
Test Target (391 k)
We shot samples of this target using the Auto
(391 k), Daylight (396 k), and Manual
(353 k) white balance settings, choosing the Auto setting for our main
shot. The Manual setting resulted in nearly accurate results as well,
though just slightly warm, while the Daylight setting produced a much
warmer image. Overall exposure looks good, as the Q60 target shows nice
tonal distribution. Color is also nice, with good saturation (though some
of the large color blocks are a little weak). Detail is strong in the
shadow and highlight areas, with low noise in the shadows. Following are
contrast, and saturation series.
The same contrast series as before, again a little tough to see in the thumbnails below. Click each to view the full-size image.
The same saturation series as before, again a little tough to see in the thumbnails below. Click each to view the full-size image.
Exposure-wise, the Dimage 5's full manual exposure control gives the camera excellent low-light shooting capabilities. The Dimage 5 produced clear, bright, usable images down to about 1/16 foot-candle (or 0.67 lux) at all four ISO settings. Color is very nice, though the Auto white balance setting had some trouble at the 1/16 foot-candle light level, and produced a pink cast. The only major flaw in the Dimage 5's performance is very high noise at the 1/16 foot-candle light level. Noise decreases dramatically with the higher light levels, but we were surprised that the camera does not employ a noise reduction system. Even at ISO 100, noise is very high at the 1/16 foot-candle setting. (We refer interested readers to Mike Chaney's Qimage Pro software for a program that does an excellent job of removing noise of this sort without overly disturbing the underlying picture information.) In our opinion, noise at ISO 800 is so high that the setting isn't really very usable at any light level. Despite this drawback, the Dimage 5 performed well here. The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.
|Flash Range Test
In our testing, we found the Dimage 5's flash effective as far as 14 feet from the test target, with good intensity. Intensity was brightest at the eight foot distance, and decreased only slightly between eight and 14 feet. Below is our complete flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
|ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (498 k)
The Dimage 5 performed nicely on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 700 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. We found "strong detail" out to at least 950 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,200 lines.
Optical distortion on the Dimage 5 is high at the wide-angle end, where we measured an approximate 0.9 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as we measured an approximate 0.29 percent pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration is very low, showing only about two or three faint pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) The low chromatic aberration and high corner to corner sharpness mark the Dimage 5's lens as being of unusually high quality.
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Resolution Series, Telephoto
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
The Dimage 5's electronic optical viewfinder proved very accurate during our testing, showing approximately 98 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and approximately 100 percent accuracy at telephoto. The LCD monitor produced identical results. At the telephoto end, however, both viewfinders were actually slightly loose, as the outside edges of our standard lines of measurement were just barely out of the frame. Still, given that we generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the Dimage 5 did an excellent job. Flash distribution is pretty even at wide-angle, with just a hint of falloff in the very corners of the frame. At the telephoto lens setting, flash coverage is even throughout the frame but slightly dim. (Not surprising, given the distance we were shooting at, due to the 7x telephoto.)