Pentax *IST Ds

Author: AndreasDT, normal AmateurDate: Tue, Apr 24, '07 at 13:31 CEST
ProExcellent image quality in RAW (I only shoot RAW)
Pentax has nice and affordable lenses (FA 35 f/2, FA 50 f/1.4, and then the new pancakes)
Good viewfinder, good ergonomics
Takes AA-batteries (I do 800 shots over a few months with 4 Eneloops).
TTL compatible
11 focus points
ContraSlow to focus, especially in low-light
TTL unreliable at higher ISO's when using *direct* flash (but spot on when e.g. reflecting via the ceiling). I don't know about P-TTL.
ThoughtsThis is my first digital camera and I'm very pleased with it. I have this "buy a second copy while they are available"-feeling and that says it all. (Of course I would not do that in such a fast evolving market!)
Author: Dan Liu, advanced Amateur PHOTO GALLERYDate: Mon, Mar 20, '06 at 04:02 CET
ProVery inexpensive; better viewfinder than other DSLRs in its price range; ability to use older (and often more fun) Pentax lenses with little to no problem, although pre-"A" lenses take some work using; MLU w/2 second timer; more AF points than I know what to do with (11), and very well placed ones at that; very low noise, ASA1600 usable for most anything, especially after some post-processing noise reduction; well-placed DOF lever; decent battery life, and takes AAs to boot; fairly quick and responsive; very customizable.
ContraSlow to playback RAW files; *I* think jpegs out of the camera are still lousy, only because they don't hold up well in Photoshop, your mileage may vary; kit lens isn't too great either, but it's a good starting lens; the meter doesn't work well in colored light; not very fast AF compared to the competition, nor very good in low-light; changing ASA, metering mode and AF modes all require several button pushes, which while very intuitive is also slow.
ThoughtsAll in all a great camera to own and use, especially for if you're a not-so-cash-laden college student, like myself (I paid $700, inc. kit lens). I'd rather the grip be larger, but I have fairly large hands; I still prefer this grip over the D50 or Rebel XT. Speaking of wishes, I wish the 4-way controller and the OK button were much bigger, and I also wish I could be more sure about taking this thing into the rain. The camera behaves one would expect it, and usually as quickly as you expect it. The only actual problems I have with the *istDS is its slowish autofocus (especially compared to any USM/AF-S/HSM capable camera), and the complete unavailability of any IS/VR/OS/etc stabilization technology (not that I could afford it...).
Author: Dr Tom Bell, normal Amateur PHOTO GALLERYDate: Fri, Jul 29, '05 at 01:44 CEST
ProCompact and well built.
Very good viewfinder .. best in class
Uncluttered and well laid out
Excellent RAW images
Compatiblilty with almost all old pentax lenses. Even if you do not have them they can be bought at low cost on ebay
ContraThe package lens is good value but is not of the highest quality
Some people have complained that jpeg performance is less good. THis has not been clear to me
I think Konica minolta's idea of having in camera "optic stabilisation" is an excellent idea but thats all
ThoughtsWell thought out camera. For me in composing a good viewfinder is essential. There is no competition at this price range. Feels great in the hand.
Author: T Wong, advanced AmateurDate: Wed, May 4, '05 at 19:10 CEST
ProFull backward lens compatibility. Metering works even with non-A lenses. Minimal mirror/shutter vibration, definitely better than DSLRs class average with Nikon D70 may be slightly better. Very, very low image noise even at ISO 800. Exceptional viewfinder - big and bright. Exposure information clearly displayed in viewfinder. Use AA size batteries - a hugh convenience. Hefty enough for stability but light enough to carry around. SD card is the perfect choice for storage. RAW file gives you excellent output. Excellent color accuracy
ContraDrive mode, metering mode, exposure bracket and white balance selections only through manual instead of direct access. JPEG compression could be improved.
ThoughtsThis is my first DSLR, second digital camera and 5th Pentax body. I have a fairly good collection of lenses and so the choice is pretty straight forward. Pentax has done an excellent job in integrating important mainstream features into a practical package at the very attractive price (even though I still consider all DSLRs overpriced).

This is a substantial camera, definitely better than my previous body, which is a *ist film SLR. Build quality is on par with the Nikon D70 but better than the Canon 300D and 350D.

I have high expectation for quality. Over 80% of my images were taken with a tripod and a release cord. I bought the *ist in additional to the 5n was because the *ist has mirror lockup. I am very happy that the DS has mirror lockup and the whole mirror/shutter combination is better than *ist in terms of vibration. Vibration is an area that is very important for SLRs but not often compared. Nikon has done a good job but not the Canon's.

The viewfinder is another area that the DS excels. It is bigger and brighter than competition. Relevant information is displayed clearly at the bottom and can be easily seen even wearing glasses. The better than average quality may be attributable to the use of pentaprism instead of pentamirror used in competition.

The ability to use older, non-A lenses is a major advantage that even the film *ist is not capable of. The metering system can do stopped down when non-A lenses are used. Since I have a fraction of my collection that falls into this category, this is a welcome feature and a feature that keeps me as a Pentax user. Pentax - well done and keep it up.

I have been using a high end dedicated film scanners for years to digitize film and always under the impression that current digital cameras do not have sufficient resolution. While it is true that film/scanner approach does produce slightly higher resolution, film grain is getting in the way too often. 6MP is just sufficient for most of my needs. This is because of the lack of noise and the elimination of the need for noise reduction program, both of which reduce (apparent) resolution.

Images taken at ISO 800 are practically noise free; something that is definitely not true for 800 speed film. The reduction is resolution at ISO 800 is very minimal compared to those taken at ISO 200. I found that this is one advantage that allows me to be significantly more creative and not bound by the film choice I have in the bag.