Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5 Review
The Z5, like the rest of the Z series, has a unique love-it-or-hate-it Buck Rogers design that, despite looking rather odd, handles very well. Externally it is very similar to the Z3, and shares a close family resemblance with the Z2. Size-wise the Z5 is slightly heavier, and slightly larger than its main competitors (the Panasonic FZ5 and Kodak Z740), but it still feels fairly compact. As with its predecessors, the external control layout is fairly minimalist (with virually no silkscreened words or symbols), which makes the camera look nice and clean, but also means you have to use it for a little longer than usual to really get to grips with what everything does. The majority of Z5's more advanced features can only be accessed via the (admittedly excellent) on-screen menu system, but you do get external controls for shooting mode, macro, flash mode, AE compensation and focus point selection. There is also the option to assign a different function to the flash key when the built-in flash isn't in use.
In your hand
There's no doubting where the inspiration for the shape of the Z2 came from - this is an SLR in miniature (albeit an SLR designed for the deck of the Battlestar Gallactica). The large grip that dominates the left side of the camera may not look too elegant, but it is remarkably practical, making carrying and shooting with the Z5 not just easy, but a real pleasure. The controls are perfectly positioned for single-handed shooting, though it feels a lot more stable if you use both - essential at longer zoom settings. Finally, it may be made of plastic, but the Z5 feels surprisingly sturdy with little or no flexing of the body, although as is common in big zoom cameras, you can wobble the lens a bit at full extension.
Side by side
The DiMAGE Z5 may be compact, but sat next to Panasonic's new FZ5 it looks positively bulky. The Panasonic FZ20 is on the right.