Pentax *ist DL SLR - Unique features
Pentax is joining in with the digital reflex cameras for some time now, relatively quietly. The brand is aiming at the lower segment and Pentax is very strong here. Before it was with the analogue cameras, and now the same thing happens with the digital cameras. Take the Pentax *ist DL for instance. It's a camera with certain unique features. The large monitor stands out the most of course. The largest one in its class. And at the same time the Pentax *ist DL is the smallest and cheapest digital reflex. But certainly not the least one. On the contrary, the Pentax *ist DL offers a lot of value for money.
Pentax *ist DL - Precious value for money
The user will have purchased a camera with many setting possibilities. The image quality can be adjusted as desired. Pentax delivers an awesome performance concerning signal/noise ratio. The sensor has been in the market for a while now, and so far couldn't keep up with the latest generation CMOS image sensors of Canon. The Pentax *ist DL now achieves fantastic results also at higher ISO values, results that don't differ much from those of the Canon models. ISO 3200 is certainly useful. Even at slow shutter speeds. The automatic white balance functions fine, better that at some cameras I have tested. It is recommendable to work with the Natural colour balance; it results in beautiful colours and a fine contrast with a good sharpening, not too high. When the Pentax *ist DL is adjusted well, it delivers perfect photos straight from the camera. If of course they are well exposed. And although the Pentax Photo Laboratory isn't the most perfect program and a RAW file takes up a lot of space on a memory card, I'd still advise to shoot in RAW or at least try it once, to experience the difference. Actually this applies to all digital (reflex) cameras. The Pentax *istDL is fast enough to enable working comfortably with RAW files. An exception is real action photography but this issue demands a higher segment camera.
Pentax digital reflex - Excellent tool
The Pentax *ist DL is a wonderful camera to work with. It's nicely small, but certainly not too small. The camera also feels solid despite of its light weight. After activating the camera, the Pentax *ist DL is almost immediately ready to shoot and the buttons are within reach. The viewfinder functions fine and reviewing the images on the giant monitor is a joy. Also the menu benefits from the large monitor. No remarks can be made about the excellent menu, only that I would have liked to see the light metering and auto focus option outside the menu.
Pentax *ist DL kit - Compact combination
The kit that comes with it, the SMC Pentax-DA 1:3.5-5.6 18-55mm AL lens is an ideal combination together with the *istDL. It's a compact lens with a beautiful range. The lens performs satisfactory. In wide angle there is some barrel distortion, but at 35 mm this distortion disappears. In wide angle a smaller aperture is needed, at maximum aperture the lens suffers from corner shading. Purple fringing is mainly visible in wide angle. But Pentax is offering sufficient lenses from a higher class.
Auto focus - Speed needs improvement
The only real minus of the Pentax *ist DL is the auto focus. It just isn't quick enough for moving subjects. For many photographers this won't be a problem, but I noticed in practise, that I missed catching a moment now and again because of the focus that couldn't keep up. And it just stops the camera from being 'perfect'.
Pentax *ist DL digital reflex camera - Outstanding result
All in all the Pentax *ist DL did an excellent job. The difference with the *ist DS is minimal. It is a choice between some more options, a real prism, a somewhat better auto focus (*istDS) and a larger monitor with a lower price tag (*istDL). But the Pentax *ist DL is not only catching up with its big brother. It's also a strong competitor for the Nikon D50. And had the Pentax *ist DL been equipped with a better auto focus, then market leader Canon would have had to be aware too. The Pentax *ist DL deserves to get every bit of attention, it's a very attractive, affordable camera and will be an excellent choice for many photographers.
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Secure Digital memory card - JPEG and RAW format storage
The SD card is a compact memory card and is getting used more often lately. Not only in compact cameras but also in other equipment. Secure Digital memory cards are fast cards, especially when using the faster SanDisk version, the Extreme III Secure Digital. The images appeared extremely fast on my card. Specifically when shooting in JPEG you can just continuously take pictures with the Pentax * ist DL. In RAW format sometimes you have to wait and remember that patience is a virtue, when the buffer is emptying. A RAW file consists of about 10MB, a JPEG file in the highest quality around 1.5 to 2MB. A card with a storage capacity of 512MB might not be sheer luxury and when photographing in RAW I suggest a 1GB memory card. In the table below an estimate is given about how many images will fit on a 512MB Secure Digital memory card.
Considering a 512MB SD memory card:
Resolution RAW - 3008x2008 pixels - 46 images
Resolution JPEG - best - 3008x2008 pixels - 167 images
Resolution JPEG - better - 3008x2008 pixels - 311 images
Resolution JPEG - good - 3008x2008 pixels - 498 images
Resolution JPEG - best - 2400x1600 pixels - 234 images
Resolution JPEG - better - 2400x1600 pixels - 415 images
Resolution JPEG - good - 2400x1600 pixels - 674 images
Resolution JPEG - best - 1536x1029 pixels - 453 images
Resolution JPEG - better - 1536x1029 pixels - 722 images
Resolution JPEG - good - 1536x1029 pixels - 1115 images