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The Holy Grail for which all of the major camera manufacturers are questing is the affordable consumer digital SLR. They know that once a customer buys an SLR and a couple of lenses, they will most likely stay with the same brand for life, buying more lenses and accessories for their system, and occasionally upgrading the camera body. Manufacturers make a lot more profit from lenses than from either SLR camera bodies or zoom compacts, so market domination awaits for the company that can introduce the first real consumer SLR. Canon was the first to break the £1000 barrier with the highly successful EOS 300D, with Nikon, Pentax and Olympus quick to follow suit. The next big barrier is £500, and many models are now approaching this breakthrough price point.
Konica Minolta’s latest SLR, the Dynax 5D, comes very close, costing just £524.49 complete with an 18-70mm lens, a price not much higher than a top-end fixed-lens camera and well within the range of most keen amateurs. Despite this budget price tag it offers a specification and image quality that rivals many of the more expensive professional models, while simultaneously sporting a number of easy-to-use features more commonly found on compact cameras.
The heart of the Dynax 5D is the same well-proven Sony 6.1-megapixel APS-C CCD found in the more expensive Dynax 7D launched last year. It also has a big 2.5in LCD monitor, a full range of manual exposure options, a powerful built-in pop-up flash and multiple automatic modes. The feature that sets it apart from other similarly priced models however is the inclusion of Konica Minolta’s innovative and highly effective body-integral anti-shake system, which utilises near-instantaneous movement sensors and micro-actuators that move the CCD to compensate for camera shake when shooting hand-held at low shutter speeds. The system has been used on other Konica Minolta models, first appearing in the Dimage A1, and allows shake-free hand-held shooting at shutter speeds two to three stops slower than would normally be possible. Currently this camera and the Dynax 7D are the only digital SLRs on the market with image stabilisation technology built into the camera body. With other brands you would have to buy more expensive IS lenses.