Handling and performance are outstanding. The 5D has a tough reinforced glass fiber body over an alloy chassis, making it strong but light. Although its chunky design gives an impression of bulk it is actually quite a small camera, just 5mm wider and 25g heavier than the Pentax *ist DL, with which it is in direct competition. It has a big comfortable rubberised handgrip, large clear viewfinder with optical correction, and a superbly ergonomic control layout. The camera starts up in under a second, and in continuous mode can shoot at three frames a second, although the number of frames that can be shot before the camera needs to stop and write to the card depends on the image quality setting. In Standard mode it is 13 frames, but in the superior RAW+JPEG mode it is just three frames.
Power is provided by an NP-400 7.4V 1500 mAh Lithium-ion battery pack. I charged it up at the beginning of a week’s holiday in France, took around 350 photos while I was there, many with flash and with the A-S system permanently switched on, and it was still reading as fully charged when I got home. Konica Minolta claims 700 shots on a charge, so it’s safe to say that battery life is outstandingly good. Spare NP-400-type batteries are relatively cheap at around £30 each.
The key to any consumer SLR is ease of use, and this the Dynax 5D has in spades. The main control is the mode dial on the top plate, offering a fully automatic snapshot mode, program auto, aperture and shutter priority and full manual exposure, as well as special program modes for portrait, action, landscape, sunset and night portrait. Despite this relative simplicity the 5D has a fantastic range of manually controllable options, far too many to list here. Suffice it to say that creative photographers who like everything to be adjustable will not be disappointed.
Frequently-used options such as AF mode, metering mode, EV compensation and even colour correction are available by pressing a Function button on the camera’s back, although white balance settings have their own dial on the left of the top plate. All settings can be adjusted manually, and colour temperatures can be dialled in.
There are only two criticisms I could make about the camera’s handling. The first is the design of the aperture preview button. It is awkwardly positioned and almost flush with the camera body, making it difficult to find by touch and very fiddly to use. The second is the noise of the shutter and reflex mirror. Compared to many other models it makes quite a loud ‘clack’ as the picture is taken.