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02-09-2009, 10:46 PM   #1
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Need Purchase Advice on *ist DL

I've been looking for an entry level DSLR. I currently have a Panasonic Lumix FZ-8 (12x) which I love. I mainly take shots of my kids (4 and 2) and a lot of the shots are indoors. I'm pretty bad with camera shake but the IS on the Panasonic seems to help.

Here's my issue; I bought a clearance *ist DL with the 18 -55 kit lens a couple of days ago and I'm trying to figure out if I should keep it. I know it's older but the price was $240 US. No IS in the camera. I've taken a bunch of pics and I like photos. Camera shake is still there and I miss the super zoom from the Panasonic.

Is it worth it to keep this camera (w/ an additional zoom) in order to learn photography? Should I just buy a newer entry level model with better specs for $400US and grow into it? Price is a major consideration. I'm not beholden to any brand right now.

Any advice would be appreciated.

02-09-2009, 10:57 PM   #2
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I JUST got the DS and I love it, you really have to learn how to use what you have. I had a Canon DSLR for a year and I didn't have IS until a few months ago, and I still was able to take some great photos. If you can afford to spend the extra money to get the KM then you get built in SR, but you also lose something that is important to learning photography.
02-09-2009, 11:22 PM   #3
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I think with patience you could find a used K100D+kit lens for that price, which would give you stabilization and some minor upgrades over the DL. The DL is pretty decent otherwise, but the SR of the K100D really overshadows the DL. With kids, you need all the help you can get.

For learning photography, the DL has everything you need. You can gain some megapixels and nice features by moving up the line, but of course at a price. The megapixels aren't really necessary IMHO
02-10-2009, 12:38 PM   #4
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I think the DL would be a great camera to learn with. Keep it for a year or two, and then upgrade if you find yourself outgrowing it.

I used the DL2 (an upgraded DL that was available only in Asia and Canada) for two and a half years and got some great shots with it, even using only the kit lens. I recently upgraded to the K20D and gave the DL2 + a 50mm manual-focus lens to my wife. Don't spend money until you get to the point where your skills and interests exceed the capabilities of the equipment you have in hand.

02-12-2009, 10:03 AM   #5
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I spent the last two years shooting with the *ist DL. It's a great camera, and not out-of-date at all. Remember, all those new Nikons and Canons don't have image stabilization built in either! The DL is modern, with a large, bright 2.5" screen and it supports SDHC (which just burned my Dad -- his Nikon D50 doesn't use SDHC cards and he bought a bunch of 4GB cards that are useless to him.)

I have just upgraded to the K10D, but not because the DL was really lacking. The K10D gives me a couple of things I wanted (weather sealing, the possibility of wireless P-TTL flash control) but it's not like the pictures from the K10D are substantially better than the DL.

I was always very impressed with the picture quality from the DL. It's a mature implementation of the 6.1MP CCD (also used in the Nikon D100, D50 and D40, and the Pentax *ist D, DS, K110D and K100D).

If you are price sensitive, then stick with the DL. You got a good price. Save the money you would have spent on a different body, and eventually add lenses. Lenses are where you will see the biggest difference in performance, image quality and flexibility. Two good and cheap choices to look towards are the DA 50-200, and the FA 50/1.4. Both will expand your photographic opporunities more than any new camera body. Both are available <$200.

The other recommendation to get the best from the DL is to shoot in RAW. Don't sweat the details about RAW, it's so simple to deal with now. Use Picassa on the PC or iPhoto on the Mac, and the PEF (RAW) files are automatically recognized. The RAW files give you more latitude to adjust colours, brightness and shadows. As you are learning photography you should give yourself the best quality to learn the digital darkroom with too. That said, if you are committed to shooting JPEG, the DL produces really nice JPEGs right out of the camera.

Good luck, and enjoy!
02-12-2009, 01:05 PM   #6
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I also have the *ist DL. I started digital photography with this camera and the kit lens 18-55mm. It was a great starter camera for me and I still use it on occasion. I upgraded to the K10D a year ago, which is the reason I don't use the *ist DL much. The *ist DL with the kit lens is a great camera for learning photography.

I agree with you keeping the *ist DL and wait a year or two to upgrade.
02-16-2009, 11:33 AM   #7
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Great minds think alike! I just ordered a *ist DL from wolfe camera for $263.

Googling I thought that $263 was a decent price. Where did you find it for cheaper?

I researched the alternatives a lot.

The K10D costs too much, even used.

The DS has a better view finder, and can be had at a comparable price used. However I have serious reservations buying a used 4 year old camera unless it has a decent waranty (The DS is at B&H used with the kit lens for $339 but only a 30 day waranty).

The K100D has the SR, but our primary subject is kids. Unless the SR mechanism can reach out and keep them still it's not going to be really that helpful.

For myself I feel safer going with a nation-wide vendor and having a full manufacturer waranty. I'm sure there are plenty of happy 2nd hand customers out there but with new available for that price why bother?

My motivation for getting the DL is a little different from yours. I'm normaly a "cannon guy" but for the life of me I can't get my wife to use my Canon DSLR. My hope is that the low cost, being able to use the lens from her early 1980's film SLR (50mm F1.7) and having her own camera combined with the small friendly size of the DL will get my wife taking pictures again.

That's a little convoluted, but at this pricepoint (especially the $240!) you can't go wrong, especially if the camera is new.

If you want to get an idea of the work you can do with the DL check out the Flickr camera finder for samples of what others are doing:

Flickr: Camera Finder: Pentax: *ist DL

.ist DL beginner questions:

Does the viewfinder magnifier help with manual focusing? I've read that both the nikon and pentax work... which is better?

What's the best .ist DL batteries? Should I just get the biggest mAH I can find or go something such as the enelope.

Whatever you choose.... Good luck and have fun. And thanks in advance to anyone with useful information!

Last edited by keeponkeepingon; 02-16-2009 at 11:38 AM.
02-16-2009, 05:08 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by keeponkeepingon Quote
The DS has a better view finder, and can be had at a comparable price used.
My brother has a DL. Every year I pick up his camera and look for the difference between pentaprism and pentamirror. I really don't see it. Now I still like the idea of pentaprism myself, but the difference isn't huge. BTW, I always notice his huge LCD screen.

QuoteOriginally posted by keeponkeepingon Quote
.ist DL beginner questions:

Does the viewfinder magnifier help with manual focusing? I've read that both the nikon and pentax work... which is better?
I have the Nikon. Like the pentaprism, it's a bit better but not a huge improvement. I like it because it also keeps my nose out of the LCD. I bought the Nikon because of price, and I didn't expect Nikon to be awful. I don't know if the Pentax is that much better with such similar pecs. With glasses, either magnifier can make it hard to see the whole frame. It doesn't bother me.

QuoteOriginally posted by keeponkeepingon Quote
What's the best .ist DL batteries? Should I just get the biggest mAH I can find or go something such as the enelope.
I think Eneloops are the best overall solution. I got several sets of 2500mAH NiMH AAs that just sit around and self-discharge before I ever wear them out. After a week they are unreliable. I suppose if you plan to shoot 400-600 shots a week the extra capacity might help. I got two sets, RayOVac Hybrid brand, and just swap. Nonrechargeable lithiums are lighter and will last for a very long time. I like these as a backup set.

02-17-2009, 10:47 AM   #9
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I'd say a better investment than a minor body upgrade would be an accessory P-TTL bounce flash. That will do more to help your indoor photography than any SR will. I am assuming that when you're photographing your children that often the priority is capturing the moment rather than creating art--so you'd probably rather have motion frozen rather than blurred. While of course I like the swivel head and extra power the AF-540FGZ, I've had good luck with used AF-360FGZ in excellent shape for $150-ish. If you want to save more money, you can try to shop for an older 'Auto' flash (Pentax AF280T isn't a bad choice for this, has swivel head, available for < $50).

Another thing -- lens. What focal lengths are you using the most? If you find yourself often using the long end 35-55 on the kit lens, that's where that lens is the slowest, f/5.6. An inexpensive film-era zoom may be a whole stop or more faster at that length. I find film-era zooms like 28-80/3.5-4.5 a pretty handy zoom range for people-photography, assuming I don't need the wide end (I would switch if I want wider). Telephoto such as DA50-200/4-5.6 would also be faster at 50mm (f/4).

I have Pentax O-ME53 magnifier. It helps somewhat with manual focusing, but can make it a little harder to see the whole viewfinder at once, at least on the pentaprism equipped *ist DS2 and K10D/K20D that I have--I have wondered if it works better in this regard on the pentamirror-equipped bodies such as *ist DL, Kx00D, etc. Can't say how it compares to the Nikon version.
02-17-2009, 03:55 PM   #10
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"Googling I thought that $263 was a decent price. Where did you find it for cheaper?"

I got the camera at a Wolf B&M. They had an additional 15% off the clearance price. I'm pretty happy so far. I have no clue what I'm doing but I'm taking pictures so it's all good.
02-24-2009, 10:13 PM   #11
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Hi everyone.

Total noobie to photography, and saw this deal on the *ist DL so I picked it up as I've been wanting to get into taking pictures with a DSLR.

Anyways, two questions.

What batteries should I use with this? Any rechargeable will do or should I go with the CR-V3's? Wonder if it provides that much better battery life.

I am planning to bring this camera to the zoo (San Diego), and I don't believe this lens has enough zoom so I wanted to get a zoom. Did some reading and from what I've gathered any K mount should work with this.

Any recommendations on a decent zoom lens? I am on a budget, a really tight one, so am looking to spend up to like $80...I don't mind second hand stuff and have checked eBay / forum sales. Any input would be appreciated!

Thanks.
02-24-2009, 10:55 PM   #12
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CR-V3s are great. I've had a set last for almost 1000 shots. Don't get rechargeable CR-V3s, the voltage is too high for this camera. Energizer Lithium AAs are also great, maybe a slightly shorter life but more likely to be found on sale. They're lighter too. "Hybrid" rechargeable AAs are also a good idea. These three types have the advantage of not discharging when you're not using the camera. NiMH rechargeables have greater initial capacity for a lot of shots in one day, but a fully charged set is not so great after a week, while the hybrids keep going. The Sanyo Eneloops are one hybrid brand. I bought Ray-O-Vac Hybrids at Target.

For $80, my first thought is the SMC Pentax-A 70-210 f4 zoom. It might run you $100. It's an excellent lens and very compatible with your camera. The drawbacks are its size/weight and it's manual focus. That's about my only thought for $80 at the moment.
02-24-2009, 11:36 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by jubei951 Quote
Hi everyone.

I am planning to bring this camera to the zoo (San Diego), and I don't believe this lens has enough zoom so I wanted to get a zoom. Did some reading and from what I've gathered any K mount should work with this.

Any recommendations on a decent zoom lens? I am on a budget, a really tight one, so am looking to spend up to like $80...I don't mind second hand stuff and have checked eBay / forum sales. Any input would be appreciated!

Thanks.
Firstly, welcome.

Another poster suggested the A70-210/4. I have this lens and while it is relatively fast (constant f/4, all the way to 210), and very good optically, I personally find it heavy and don't care all that much for the one-touch push-pull zoom design. So as an alternative, I'll also suggest the slower but much smaller and lighter (and still pretty good optically) F80-200/4.7-5.6. It's a little plasticy, but extremely light, takes small 49mm filters, and features internal zoom so it doesn't get longer & shorter as you change the focal length (zoom). It also offers autofocus, unlike the A70-210. I'd say a fair price for this lens is $40-80, depending on condition. There is also a similar-spec'ed FA version that is usually silver. For whatever reason, this one's reputation isn't as good even though it may be nearly identical. I believe the FA version has a plastic lens mount which some wouldn't like. Anyway, I consider the F80-200/4.7-5.6 a good lower-cost alternative to the designed-for-digital DA50-200/4-5.6.

If you want longer than 200mm, you can probably find some of the less-desirable tel zooms such as Pentax FA-J 75-300, and low-end Sigma/Tamron for less than $100 that would range from a short end of 70-100 up to 300, but these will be considerably larger and heavier than those that go to 200mm.
02-25-2009, 01:43 AM   #14
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@Just1MoreDave & AndrewG NY; thanks for the input!

Going to search for some battery deals.

I definitely have actually considered these two lens as I've read and seen some photos using them online. The specs on the lens still boggle me a bit as I don't know the meaning to all the specifications yet. I will look further into these! Would these lens generally require a mono/tripod at 150mm and up?

@thrillerb
Don't mean to thread hi-jack but felt I'm in the same situation and figured to have it all on the same thread!

I like the *ist DL so far and have messed around with a Nikon D60 with similar kit lens and as much as I'd hate to admit it, for me personally the savings for the *ist DL is worth the few sacrifices as I can purchase other things which I find more important such as lens / flash.
02-25-2009, 10:21 PM   #15
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Choice of lens for *ist DL

Hey guys, thanks for response. I definitely consider those lens.

So right now I have a choice between two lens:

1) Takumar 70-200mm AF f 4, 5.6 (*from forum member)
2) Pentax SMC-M 80-200mm f 4,5 (*off eBay)

I'm a little confused with the Pentax SMC cuz it seems a little cheap in price.

???
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