Pentax’s Pentax *ist DL is the company’s second entry into the consumer DSLR market. With a 6.1 megapixel APS-format sensor, a maximum ISO of 3200, a 2.5-inch, 210,000 pixel display, RAW file capability, and a street price of about $750 with lens included, it’s very competitive. The camera’s autofocus system may fall short of the competition, and the kit lens is nothing to brag about, but in this price range, it remains a viable option.
The *ist DL is a reasonable entry in the entry level DSLR market. The camera’s most unique features in that market, the 2.5-inch LCD and the ISO 3200 setting, are real strengths. For some shoppers, they should be enough to decide the issue. The *ist DL’s other good qualities – very solid construction, relatively small size and clean design – are not unique in the market, but they are still very attractive.
The *ist DL is notably inferior to other sub-$1000 DSLRs in only two areas: its autofocus mechanism is less advanced than the Nikon and Canon offerings, and its handgrip is less comfortable than others. The autofocus issue is likely to be a substantial one to many users, but some people’s hands will be better suited to the handgrip than mine.
It’s worth noting that sub-$1000 DSLRs are all slow, compared to professional cameras. Users who hope to analyze a golf swing or catch that slide into home plate are going to be disappointed with the *ist DL and its ilk. These cameras are cheaper than the top of the line models for a reason, and most of the corners that manufacturers cut affect speed.
All that said, the *ist DL is a useful tool that could serve as a good first DSLR. Its automatic modes are easy to use, and its manual controls are complete.
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Pentax showed us a new digital compact SLR camera at the beginning of June 2005. It’s not intended as a successor of the current Pentax *ist DS, but it surely is a digital reflex that looks rather similar to the *ist DS. At first glance you’d even think they are identical except for the larger monitor on the Pentax *ist DL. But there is more to it than that. Pentax will continue its production of the *istDS (for now) and the Pentax *istDL will be available as a cheaper alternative for the *ist DS.
The difference in price is interesting, some 150 euros. This low price makes the Pentax *ist DL the cheapest digital reflex camera for now (August 2005). And the smallest one, because Pentax still is an expert in manufacturing small cameras. The Pentax *istDL SLR also lost some weight compared to the *ist DS. This loss of weight is probably due to replacing the prism for mirrors. Normally the prism is situated inside the viewfinder of a reflex camera, but in the *ist DL digital SLR the light is being diverted to the ocular through mirrors. This technique is also used at the Canon EOS 350D and the Nikon D50. So it might not be a coincidence that these two cameras are the biggest competitors of the Pentax *ist DL digital reflex.
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Simple, Affordable, Small Body Features Large LCD Monitor
Carrying on the PENTAX tradition of compact digital bodies with simple operation and outstanding performance, the Pentax *ist DL features a 2.5 inch LCD monitor and the lightest PENTAX digital SLR body at only 16.6 ounces.
The *ist DL is the smallest digital SLR with the largest LCD in its class offered at a very affordable price
Positioned as an addition to the popular PENTAX digital SLR family, the *ist DL is a perfect camera for beginning digital photographers including families and digital users who are ready to step-up from a point-and-shoot, compact digital camera.
Featuring 6.1 effective megapixels and compatibility with most interchangeable PENTAX lenses, the *ist DL will ship in July 2005 with the smc PENTAX DA 18-55mm digital lens for under $800 US.
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