Minolta DiMAGE 5 Review

Steve's Digicams

First Look posted 8/23/01
Full review posted 10/4/01

Click on the DiMAGE 5 to take a QuickTime VR tour

The DiMAGE 5 and DiMAGE 7 SLR-type digital cameras feature Minolta's new technological developments designed to provide high-quality images as well as a wide array of digital functions for creative photography. Many advanced features that were found only on high-end professional digicams are now offered at more affordable prices. Both digital cameras share the same advanced features and lightweight magnesium alloy body.

They also share the same new, all-glass 7x optical zoom Minolta GT lens. This 7.2mm - 50.8mm, f/2.8-f/3.5 APO lens uses anomalous dispersion (AD) glass and aspheric elements to provide sharp, bright images at all focal lengths. The DiMAGE 7's focal length equivalent (in 35mm photography) is 28mm - 200mm and on the DiMAGE 5 it's equivalent to a 35mm - 250mm lens. Both cameras also feature a One-Touch 2x digital zoom to significantly increase the zooming range and Super Macro capability, allowing close-up photography of subjects as near as 5 inches from the lens.

Minolta DiMAGE 5

Both cameras feature Minolta's proprietary CxProcess, a new image processing technology that provides clear and natural images. In image processing, too much emphasis on natural color produces flat color pictures. Overemphasizing the color range creates an unnatural color scheme. CxProcess balances both extremes by controlling sharpness, color reproduction, tonal gradation and noise to optimize results.

The 12-bit A/D conversion provides a finer tonal gradation, with deep shadows, brilliant highlights and millions of colors, up to 4,096 levels in each RGB channel. Minolta's 12-bit A/D conversion provides exquisite details in portraiture: smooth complexion, rich shadows, and luminous highlights, as opposed to the standard 10-bit A/D conversion with its limited 1,024 levels per RGB channel.

Minolta DiMAGE 5

The Digital Hyper Viewfinder provides photographers with clear images, even under bright light. With its reflective ferroelectric Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) viewfinder and a visual resolution equivalent to almost 220,000 pixels, it's the first time such a sophisticated optical device has been used on a high-resolution consumer SLR-type digital camera. The variable position viewfinder can be tilted up to 90 degrees for added flexibility and creativity in shooting. The Digital Hyper Viewfinder allows the photographer to simultaneously monitor the image and camera settings. And in low-light situations the viewfinder signal is amplified so you won't miss any important shots.

Using an extra-wide focus area, the cross-hair autofocus (AF) sensor in the center accurately determines subject distance, regardless of horizontal or vertical subject contrast. With Minolta's new Flex Focus Point, a simple press of a button can change the extra-wide focus to a cross-hair spot focus point that can be moved to anywhere within the image. The Flex Focus Point can be used for subjects at the edge of the frame or for singling out a specific subject from a number of objects at varying distances. With very shallow depth-of-field, the Flex Focus Point can eliminate focusing errors with off-centered subjects. The camera does not need to be moved to use the focus-lock function and then recomposed.

Minolta DiMAGE 5

The responsive autofocus is a result of a high-speed Large Scale Integration (LSI) chip that rapidly processes image data and signals. The LSI chip incorporates a high-speed 32-bit RISC CPU and is connected to a large capacity SDRAM through a 32-bit data bus. Photographers can also choose between Single-shot AF and Continuous AF.

There are three exposure-metering modes: multi-segment, center-weighted and spot. The multi-segment metering technology in the cameras uses both light values and color information to accurately calculate the exposure. The DiMAGE 7 has 300 segments in the multi-segment metering, and the DiMAGE 5 uses 256 segments. With emphasis on the main subject, the luminance patterns on the CCD and AF information are used to accurately calculate the exposure.

Minolta DiMAGE 5
Under the stylish metal exterior is a solid alloy frame

DiMAGE 5 Major Features:

  • 7x optical zoom with manual zoom and focus control on the lens
  • 3.3-megapixel imager for images up to 2048 x 1536 pixels
  • 12-bit A/D conversion provides a finer tonal gradation
  • CCD-RAW and TIFF modes as well as JPEG compressed
  • Program AE with Shift, Aperture priority, Shutter priority and Manual modes
  • Shutter speed from 4 sec to 1/2000th sec and Bulb (30 sec max.)
  • Program selections: portrait, sports, night portrait, sunset and text mode
  • Flexible white balance: automatic, preset (daylight, tungsten, cloudy and fluorescent) and custom modes
  • Sensitivity settings: auto, 100, 200, 400 and 800 ISO equivalents
  • Digital Enhanced Bracketing: exposure, contrast and color saturation
  • Digital Effects Control for exposure compensation, contrast and color saturation
  • Flex Focus Point, changes the extra-wide focus to a cross-hair spot focus point that can be moved to anywhere within the image
  • High Performance flash with Advanced Distance Integration flash metering
  • Three exposure-metering modes: multi-segment, center-weighted and spot
  • Variable position, hi-res, TTL color viewfinder with low-light amplification
  • Playback/QuickView histogram feature
  • Epson's PRINT Image Matching Technology incorporated
  • Data imprinting that records date, time and descriptive information on an image.

The DiMAGE Image Viewer Utility Software can display raw image data and allows for corrections and manipulations using built- in functions. The raw data is processed with a 16-bit color depth so that the fine tonal gradations are preserved. Based on the user-friendly graphic interface of Minolta's film scanner driver software, photographers can change tone curve/histogram, brightness/contrast/color pallet, hue/saturation/lightness, and sharpness of the raw data and save the image as a 16-bit TIFF. JPEG and TIFF images can also be viewed and corrected. The Color Correction Job function saves correction settings so they may be applied to different images. In addition, the Variation function allows photographers to choose the best image from a series of automatically bracketed corrections. The unique sharpness correction method is easy and effective. The color matching is compatible with most color spaces for accurate color reproduction with the ICC profiles.

Both cameras are supported by Epson's latest PRINT Image Matching technology which ensures that Minolta's digital cameras and Epson's printers work together perfectly to produce photographs that print truer-to-life than ever before.

Physical Views

Minolta DiMAGE 5

Minolta DiMAGE 5

Minolta DiMAGE 5

Minolta DiMAGE 5

Minolta DiMAGE 5

Minolta DiMAGE 5

Minolta DiMAGE 5

The DiMAGE 5 and the Canon PowerShot G2 for comparison.

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Page Two

DiMAGE 5 Specifications

CCD Imager 1/1.8 inch-type interline CCD with a total of 3.34 million pixels and a primary color filter
Number of effective pixels 3.17 million pixels (2056x1544)
Image Sizes Still images: 2048x1536, 1600x1200, 1280x960, 640x480, Movie: 320x240
Image compression mode Raw, Super Fine (TIFF uncompressed)
Fine, Standard or Economy JPEG
Storage capacity (16 MB) Raw: 2, Super Fine: 1, Fine: 9, Standard: 16, Economy: 27, Movie: 71 seconds
File format Exif 2.1(JPEG, TIFF), Motion JPEG (AVI) and RAW
DCF 1.0-compliant, DPOF-compliant (Supported by printing functions in version 1.1)
Exif tag information Date and time, Exposure mode, Shutter speed, Aperture value, Exposure compensation value, Metering method, Flash on/off, Camera sensitivity, White balance setting, Focal length, Color space, etc.
Recording medium CompactFlash card Type I and Type II,
(IBM Microdrive: 340MB, 512MB, 1GB)
A/D conversion 12 bits per color RGB
Sensitivity Auto, fixed ISO 100, 200, 400 or 800
Aspect ratio 4:3
Lens focal length 7.2mm - 50.8mm (35mm - 250mm in 35mm format)
Lens construction All glass: 16 elements in 13 groups (including two AD glass elements and two aspheric surfaces)
Maximum aperture f/2.8 - f/3.5
Focusing range 1.6 feet (0.5m) from the CCD to infinity
Minimum Macro focus distance Approximately 5 inches (13cm) from the front of the lens
Maximum magnification 0.18x
Optical zooming control Manual zooming ring
Threaded filter diameter 49mm
Viewfinder EVF (Electronic viewfinder) with ferroelectric 0.19-inch reflective liquid crystal microdisplay with equivalent resolution of 220,000 pixels with automatic monitor amplification and electronic magnification. Magnification of 0.31-2.1x. 90-degree variable position
Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) 46mm (1.8-inch) TFT color LCD monitor with total 122,000 pixels
Display-mode switch Auto-display, electronic-viewfinder display and external LCD monitor display mode
Field of view EVF and external LCD monitor: approximately 100%
Diopter control Continuously variable; -5 to +0.5 diopter
Eye relief 20mm from the eyepiece
Shutter CCD electronic shutter and mechanical shutter
Shutter speed 4 seconds - 1/2000 second, plus bulb (maximum 30 seconds)
Autofocus Video AF system
Autofocus areas Wide focus area, Spot focus point, Flex Focus Point control is available with the spot focus point
Focus modes Single-shot AF, Continuous AF or Manual
Focus lock Available with AF/AE-lock button or by pressing the shutter-release button part-way down
Metering 256 multi-segment, center-weighted and spot
Exposure control range Wide: EV1-17
Telephoto: EV1.6-17.7
Exposure modes Programmed AE (with program shift)
Aperture priority
Shutter priority

Digital subject program selection (Portrait, Sports action, Sunset, Night portrait, Text)

Exposure compensation +/- 2 EV (in 1/3 EV increments)
AE lock Available with AF/AEL button or by pressing the shutter-release button part-way down
Flash metering ADI (Advanced Distance Integration), Pre-flash TTL
Built-in flash range Wide: approximately 1.6 - 12.5 feet (0.5-3.8m), Telephoto: approximately 1.6 - 9.8 feet (0.5-3m) (Camera sensitivity: auto)
Flash mode Fill-flash, Red-eye reduction, Rear flash sync
Built-in flash recycling time Approximately 7 seconds
Flash compensation +/- 2EV (in 1/3 EV increments)
Flash-sync speeds All shutter speeds
Dedicated external flash Auto-flash metering with Program Flash 3600HS(D), Program Flash 5600HS(D), Macro Twin Flash 2400*, Macro Ring Flash 1200* (*Macro Flash Controller is necessary.)
Continuous drive advance 1.1 fps (max.)
* Continuous advance speed is approximate and may vary depending upon the subject and shooting conditions.
* Continous advance is not available for images recorded in the super fine or RAW mode
Interval recording 2-99 frames. Interval time: 1-10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes
Digital Enhanced Bracketing Exposure, Contrast, Color saturation.
Exposure in full stop, 1/2 stop, and 1/3 EV increments.
Contrast and Color saturation in fixed increments.
Number of brackets: 3 frames
Electronic Self-timer Approximately 10-second delayed release
Movie recording Maximum 60 seconds
Operating speed Start-up time: approximately 2.6 seconds
Shutter-release time lag: approximately 0.13 second
Capturing interval: approximately 0.9 second
Playback loading interval: approximately 0.2 second
Color modes Color, Black and White
White balance Preset (Daylight, Tungsten, Fluorescent and Cloudy) plus Custom
Sharpness setting Three levels (Soft, Normal, Hard)
Digital Effects Control Exposure, Color saturation, Contrast compensation
Digital zoom 2x
Delete function Available (single frame, all frames or specified frames)
Format function Available in the setup mode
Data imprinting Year/month/day (Format can be changed), Month/day/time, Text, Text and serial numbers, Imprinting can be disabled
Printing output control PRINT Image Matching
PC interface USB version 1.1
Video output NTSC, PAL (can be selected by user)
Power Four AA Alkaline or four AA Ni-MH batteries (Use of Ni-MH batteries is recommended.)
Battery performance playback Continuous playback time: approximately 110 minutes
(Based on Minolta's standard test method: Ni-MH batteries, external LCD monitor on, EVF off)
Battery performance recording Number of recorded images: approximately 200 frames
(Based on Minolta's standard test method: Ni-MH batteries, EVF on, external LCD monitor off, flash used with 50% of the frames, no instant playback)
External power source 6V DC with specified AC adapter (sold separately)
Dimensions (WxHxD) 4.6 x 3.6 x 4.5 inches (116.5 x 90.5 x 112.5 mm)
Weight Approximately 17 ounces (505g) (without batteries and CompactFlash card)
Accessories Standard: Neck Strap, Lens Cap, Lens Shade, Accessory Shoe Cap, USB Cable, Video Cable, 16MB CompactFlash Card, AA alkaline batteries, DiMAGE Image Viewer Utility CD-ROM

Optional: Camera Case CS-DG7, External High Power Battery Pack Kit EBP-100, Remote Codes RC-1000S and RC-1000L, AC Adapter AC-1L

System Requirements IBM PC/AT compatible computer with Windows Me, Windows 2000, Windows 98, or Windows 98 SE and a built-in USB port.

Power Macintosh G4 series, G3 series, iMac series, iBook, PowerBook G3 with Mac OS 8.6 - 9.1 and a built-in USB port

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