Pentax *ist DL SLR Review

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Pentax *ist DL

Review posted 3/8/2006

Click on the *ist DL for a QuickTime VR tour

The Pentax *ist DL is one of the smallest and lightest digital SLR cameras available. And Pentax has just made it the most affordable digital SLR in the world (as of Feb 2006) by lowering its price to just $599 USD including the 18-55mm zoom lens. Despite its diminuitive size, the *ist DL offers 6.1 million effective pixels of resolution and PENTAX original image processing technology. The camera is compatible with most existing PENTAX interchangeable lenses to meet a wide range of applications and visual creativity.

The *ist DL hosts an array of advanced, user-friendly features including a comfortable eyelevel viewfinder, a 2.5 inch color LCD monitor, a generous LCD data panel, and an innovative Auto picture mode for automatic selection of the proper exposure program. Offering quick, effortless operation and easy portability, the *ist DL is the ideal digital SLR for all levels of photographers, including first-timer digital SLR users and families. The *ist DL is equipped with a penta mirror viewfinder offering a 96% field of view and a 0.85x magnification. The camera features a large, bright viewfinder image equal in size, clarity and brightness to viewfinders incorporated in conventional 35mm-film SLRs.

The *ist DL is equipped to make camera operations simple and effortless for the user. From the multi-function four-way controller to the responsive electronic select dial and the large, easy-to-use mode dial, all switches and dials are efficiently and functionally laid out around the *ist DL's compact body to assure smooth, fingertip control. Its innovative Auto picture mode automatically and instantly selects the optimum combination of exposure settings for a given subject or situation, including shutter speed, aperture, white balance, saturation, contrast, and intensity of edges. The built-in auto flash automatically pops up in dimly lit or backlit situations. The *ist DL records up to 5 images consecutively at a speed of approximately 2.8 frames per second, allowing the user to capture a series of the subject's action or movement.

A wide range of compatible PENTAX lenses are available for use with the *ist DL including K, KA, KAF, and KAF2 mount lenses; screw mount lenses, 645, and 67 series lenses (adapter required). Some functions may not activate depending on the choice of lens.

Pentax *ist DL Features:

  • One of the smallest, lightest and most affordable dSLR cameras
  • High resolution, large-area 6.1-Megapixel CCD image sensor
  • Image sizes are: 6M 3000x2008, 4M 2400x1600 or 1.5M 1536x1024
  • Choice of JPEG with 3 quality levels or RAW recording formats
  • Software included to manipulate RAW format image data
  • Compatible with Pentax K, KA, KAF, and KAF2 mount lenses; screw mount lenses, 645, and 67 series lenses (adapter required)
  • 2.5-inch, 210,000-pixel color LCD monitor for easy viewing
  • Penta-mirror viewfinder with 96% field of view
  • 16-segment metering with Multi-Segment, Spot and Center-weighted options
  • 3-point autofocus (SAFOX VIII) with Wide and Spot AF modes
  • Shutter speeds from 1/4000 to 30 seconds plus Bulb
  • Auto pop-up flash with red-eye reduction, external flash units can be used with P-TTL hot shoe
  • Auto Picture, Standard, Program AE, Shutter-Priority AE, Aperture-Priority AE, Manual, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Action, Night Scene and Flash Off exposure modes.
  • 2.8fps Continuous capture of up to 5 JPEG or 3 RAW frames
  • 18 Custom Settings to personalize camera operations
  • Noise reduction function activates for long exposures
  • Playback functions; histogram, nine-image thumbnail and 12X zoom display
  • Four digital filters (black-and-white, sepia, slim, and soft-focus) for easy post-shooting image processing
  • Uses removable Secure Digital flash memory cards
  • High-speed USB 2.0 connectivity, PictBridge and Print Image Matching III compatible
  • Powered by 4 AA batteries or 2 CR-V3 Li-ion batteries
  • Optional wireless remote controller and wired cable release

The Pentax *ist DL is available now as a kit bundled with the Pentax-DA Zoom 18-55mm F3.5- F5.6 AL lens for ~$599 USD. PENTAX PHOTO Laboratory 2.1 RAW-data processing and PHOTO Browser 2.1 browser software included

Physical Views

Pentax *ist DL, image (c) 2004 Steve's Digicams

Pentax *ist DL, image (c) 2004 Steve's Digicams

Pentax *ist DL, image (c) 2004 Steve's DigicamsPentax *ist DL, image (c) 2004 Steve's Digicams

Pentax *ist DL, image (c) 2004 Steve's Digicams

Pentax *ist DL, image (c) 2004 Steve's Digicams

Pentax *ist DL, image (c) 2004 Steve's Digicams

The Pentax *ist DL and the *ist DS2

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*ist DL Specifications
Type Interchangeable lens Single-Lens-Reflex type digital still camera with TTL auto exposure,autofocus and built-in TTL auto flash.
Lens Mount PENTAX K AF mount
Compatible Lenses PENTAX K, KA, KAF, and KAF2 mount lenses; screw mount lenses, 645, and 67 series lenses (adapter required). Some functions may not activate depending on the choice of lens.
Image Sensor Interline interlace CCD.
Size: 23.5mm x 15.7mm (diagonal line: 28.40mm).
Total pixels: 6.31 megapixels
Effective Pixels 6.1 megapixels.
Recorded Pixels Large: 3008 x 2008 pixels.
Middle: 2400 x 1600 pixels.
Small: 1536 x 1024 pixels.
Sensitivity Equivalent to ISO 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
File Formats Exif 2.21, RAW, DCF, DPOF, PRINT Image Matching III
Quality Levels Compressed: 8-bit JPEG-baseline with compressibility rates of 1/3, 1/6 and 1/12 and 12-bit RAW.
Storage Media SD (Secure Digital) up to 2GB
White Balance Auto: TTL control using image sensor.
Preset: Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Tungsten light, Fluorescent light, Flash and Manual.
LCD Monitor 2.5 inch, 210,000 pixel low-reflection TFT color LCD with histogram display
LCD Function Single frame, zoom in/out up to 12X, nine-image, slide show, image rotation, shooting data indication (including date and histogram), quick view (instant display of image after shooting)
Delete Function Single-frame-deletion, All-frame deletion, card format, protect
Video Output NTSC/PAL switchable
Data Interface USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
Exposure Modes Program AE, Auto Picture Mode, Picture Mode, Shutter-Priority AE, Aperture-Priority AE, Metered Manual, Bulb
Continuous Shooting Approx. 2.8 fps., JPEG (up to 5 fps.), RAW (up to 3 fps.)
Shutter Electronically controlled vertical-run focal-plane shutter with electronic release.
Speeds: 1/4000 sec. to 30 sec. and Bulb
Viewfinder Penta mirror with Natural-Bright-Matte II focusing screen; Viewfinder Coverage - 96%; Viewfinder Magnification - 0.85x (with 50mm f1.4 lens, -1-1); Diopter Adjustment - -2.5m-1 to +1.5m-1
Viewfinder Indication AF frame; Spot AF frame; Focus point indication (high lighted in red) Flash information; Picture mode (Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Action, Night scene portrait); In-focus; Shutter speed; Aperture value; Exposure compensation factor; Manual white balance; Manual focus; ISO sensitivity warning; Auto exposure lock signal
Exposure Metering TTL open-aperture 16-segment metering.
Spot metering and center-weighted metering selectable.
Metering range (at ISO200 with 50mm F1.4 lens): EV1 to EV21.5
Exposure compensation ±2EV (in 1/3 or 1/2EV steps)
Auto Bracketing 3 frames (proper/over/under) within range of ±1.5EV (1/2EV steps) or ±1.0EV (1/3EV steps)
Simultaneous use with exposure compensation possible.
Drive Modes Single-shot, Continuous Advance, self-timer (2 or 12 sec.), Auto Bracketing, Remote Control (0 or 3 sec.)
Autofocus TTL phase-matching 3-point autofocus system (SAFOX VIII) with selectable wide/spot AF
Applicable illumination range: EV0 to EV19 (at ISO200).
AF-Single, AF-Continuous, Manual
Built-in Flash (RTF) Guide number: 15.6 (at ISO200/m), Guide number: 11 (at ISO100/m).
Angle of view coverage: 28mm.
Synchronization speed: 1/180 sec.
Auto, Flash-Off, flash-on and Auto+red-eye reduction functions available.
Flash Synch Via hot shoe (with X-contact for dedicated flash unit).
Standard PC flash sync connector
Sensitivity range: ISO200 to ISO1600.
Flash synchronization: up to 1/180 sec.
Self-timer Electronically controlled type with 12- or 2-second delay.
Mirror lock-up mechanism available.
Mid-operation cancellation possible.
Remote Control Infrared wireless remote control with optional remote controller.
Effective range: 5m (16.6 ft.) from front side of camera.
Instant release or 3-second-delay release switchable.
Power Source 2 CR-V3 batteries or 4 AA-sized batteries (lithium, Ni-MH, alkaline).
Optional AC adapter available.
Battery Life CR-V3: Approx. 850 frames no flash, Approx. 750 frames with flash used 50% of the time
Dimensions 125mm x 92.5mm x 67mm (4.9 x 3.6 x 2.7 inches)
Weight 470g (16.6 oz.) (w/out batteries and memory card)
(Specifications as represented by the manufacturer, subject to change)

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