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07-10-2013, 05:30 AM - 6 Likes   #1
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Ode to the *ist Ds vs/ K5 and beyond...

You know, every once in a while, it's a good thing toremember why we buy cameras, lenses, etc. It's to take pictures! Sure, some of us just like to buy shiny new things, but for the most part, it's about the captured image.

Looking back through digital archives on my computer, Inoticed that the pictures taken with my original ist Ds were, well, pretty darn good. I still have the body, and it's 100% functional, and I still use it as awork shop camera to document builds, procedures, etc.

I've been on quite the equipment ride since my first digital camera (starting with an Olympus E10, which had a great lens and made very goodpics, but good lord was its CPU SLOOOOOWWWWW).

The Pentax ist Ds was my first DSLR, and it was so cool tome, I instantly bought into the hype as the new models came out. I just HAD to upgrade to get that next little perceived edge of improvement. So, then I gotthe K10D, the K20D, then the K7, and now my K5. I only kept the original ist Ds out of all those in between, and my current K5, and I'll tell you why I keptthe Ds. I still love that little camera, and the others, in my humble opinion,have yet to best it by very much.

I'm going to put something out there, and you can feel freeto disagree. Each camera & sensor combo seems to have its own distinct personality, just as varied as old film types. Think about the ist Ds as VPN100, the K10 as Royal 400, the K20 as Ektar 100, the K7 as Fuji 200 and the K5as Agfa 50. Those may not be exactly spot on, I'm just winging it, but you should get my drift.

To be honest, I got a little burned out on the upgrade bandwagon. The constant promise of better images and fixing one problem, justto introduce a new problem of another type in the new model. Biggest issue I'd say is has been focus and general QC (oil spots, buttons falling off, etc). I can work around funky menus or button replacement, carry extra batteries,adjust white balance, and even work within iso limitations and will suffer through post processing, but poor autofocus and QC issues has been sucking thejoy out of the upgrades. What's the point in Safox ver 10 zillion if I still have to manually adjust each lens in-camera? My old ist Ds seems to do fine with its antiquated Safox viii, it was just a tad slow is all. My ancient film cameras autofocus was spot on back in the 1990's. Why oh why can’t this seemingly simple problem be worked out in this modern age? Is it just me?

I'm not really sure why I started this post. I don't post much, even though I've belonged to this forum, the old Pentax group listserver, and Dpreview for many years. I guess I just wondered how many still have their original Pentax 6mp DSLR stuck in a drawer somewhere, and really have given it a proper outing lately. I have, and what struck me is how good that little thing still is. Sure, the Ds has its faults. White balance being the worst offender, and jpg processing, but those never bothered me, I shoot raw, and WB is an easy fix.

Don't rattle off statistics or features, I know on paper, in this feature driven world, the old Ds should be a door stop. Just take a good picture with it and look at it. Maybe, like me, you'll wonder how far have we really come? Do I really need the next latest greatest to take good pictures?

Finally, after a couple years I've spent with the K5, I think Pentax came back to the Ds type of image, and surpassed it obviously. The K5 beats it in WB, speed, size, about every category really. I'm not sure I can explain how I feel, but it just seems like the K5 finally feels like the next real upgrade from the Ds, and the other models in-between were somehow less than worthy. I felt it (disappointment) immediately soon after each purchase.Not so with the K5... at least not until much later when the lens release button fell off and I had to send it in for repair, heh heh.

I think the lesson I've learned is this: If you are a Pro,buy what you need to get the job done and helps make a profit. If you are just a hobbyist on a budget, I think it would do you well to realize right up front that no camera is perfect. If you have one that you like, enjoy the one you have until you wear it out or truly reach its limitations, or you'll waste your entire photographic life chasing some impossible dream, not to mention blow a whole lot of coin.

At this point in my life, I’ve sat out on the new stuff awhile, keeping my K5 even with the temptation of the new model K5II and IIS,and am re-evaluating where I want to take my photographic journey next. I'll admit I've got the itch for full frame... If Pentax released one very soon, it might get my attention, if the QC reports are good, and independent tests say the autofocus is on par with the competition... I’d pull the trigger on one, but I just don’t see anything coming soon.

If they don't release one, I might eventually jump ship, but even if I ever did, I can't imagine ever selling the Ds, it would feel like selling my dog. I'd keep the Ds and a few favorite lenses.

A camera that can engender that level of loyalty is special,so in conclusion… Dear Pentax; Even if you botch everything else down the road, thanks for my little *ist Ds, ya done good.

Eric

07-10-2013, 05:42 AM   #2
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Another fine post put into fine perspective. Thanks for sharing it with us.


Ash.
07-10-2013, 06:22 AM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Another fine post put into fine perspective. Thanks for sharing it with us.


Ash.
I agree that Ist Ds is a great camera. My first Pentax DSLR was a K110D, then I upgraded to K20D with great expectations but not entirely satisfied. Then I bought the Ds and, to my surprise, shot great images with this camera + 18-55 DAL lens. So I sold the K20D but because pf megapixel concerns (!) bought a Kx, which was also a good camera. Now I have recently sold Kx too and bought K-30, but I still keep the DS. It also serves me with my Pentax TTL FTZ flash and 140c TTL ring flash. Even without these, I think I will never sell this little but capable camera with "clean" images.
07-10-2013, 06:38 AM   #4
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I agree
Ist ds seems to give me better images ( sharper, and more natural colors on my Eizo) than the K-01 in normal lighting
perhaps I should look more into the settings of the K-01 for camera jpgs to get them like the ist ds.
Also the autofocus/ focus confirmation on ist ds is very consistent and its focus confirmation is a lot easier with my old -M lenses than the contrast detection method.

The weakness of the ist ds ( I had 3, now have 1.5) is the e-wheel, and if not using it, I try to exercise all the controls/buttons monthly to try to keep the contacts good.

07-10-2013, 09:52 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Erictator Quote
I think the lesson I've learned is this: If you are a Pro,buy what you need to get the job done and helps make a profit. If you are just a hobbyist on a budget, I think it would do you well to realize right up front that no camera is perfect. If you have one that you like, enjoy the one you have until you wear it out or truly reach its limitations, or you'll waste your entire photographic life chasing some impossible dream, not to mention blow a whole lot of coin.
Can I get an AMEN? Up until about a year ago, I had a *ist DS as a backup for my K-x, and I could get equally good photos out of either. The main difference was in the improved high ISO performance of the K-x, but yeah... Both were (and are) excellent cameras, and in most situations, I'd be totally happy using either.

I realized a long time ago there's a point of diminishing returns when it comes to photo gear spending. I'm fine with the old stuff I have, and will likely only replace it when it dies... probably with some more old stuff.
07-10-2013, 10:18 AM   #6
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Thanks y'all!

I wasn't really sure if I'd be swimming upstream on this one or not. It's nice to get a little validation, and to know I'm not just nuts...well, not totally nuts anyways. Heh heh.

Eric
07-10-2013, 10:33 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Erictator Quote
You know, every once in a while, it's a good thing toremember why we buy cameras, lenses, etc. It's to take pictures! Sure, some of us just like to buy shiny new things, but for the most part, it's about the captured image.
Yes! Of course there is nothing wrong with being in love with the gadgets, though it is always good to be honest with yourself and recognize the real reason you want to buy the new stuff.

QuoteOriginally posted by Erictator Quote
To be honest, I got a little burned out on the upgrade bandwagon. The constant promise of better images
For me learning that it's not the camera that matters saved a lot of money. Since then I bought only 1 camera (the K-5). It is kind of obvious that good photographers made great images even 100 years ago and at least 10 years ago they could also do great images with ease of good quality digital and at least 5 years ago the digital was already developed enough to offer great quality and convenience of use. Looking at other people´s complaints I had an impression that either 1) they are happy with the results and then I do not see why upgrade in this case and 2) they are unhappy with their results and blame it on their tools, when the problem is actually with them.

QuoteOriginally posted by Erictator Quote
and fixing one problem, justto introduce a new problem of another type in the new model. Biggest issue I'd say is has been focus and general QC (oil spots, buttons falling off, etc). I can work around funky menus or button replacement, carry extra batteries,adjust white balance, and even work within iso limitations and will suffer through post processing, but poor autofocus and QC issues has been sucking thejoy out of the upgrades.
Unfortunately this is the general trend. Manufacturers are forced to released new product quickly to survive the competition and it is much more cost effective for them to release a flawed product than delay it (and invest more into its development). Also consumer society has taught most people to upgrade every year or 2, so there is little incentive to release products that will last. You can see it in just about any electronics product (except for some niche companies probably - like Leica?).

QuoteOriginally posted by Erictator Quote
What's the point in Safox ver 10 zillion if I still have to manually adjust each lens in-camera? My old ist Ds seems to do fine with its antiquated Safox viii, it was just a tad slow is all. My ancient film cameras autofocus was spot on back in the 1990's. Why oh why can’t this seemingly simple problem be worked out in this modern age? Is it just me?
Well most probably the reason is that due to higher MP count and easiness of checking the result at 100% on your computer screen, you can actually spot the focus inaccuracies you wouldn't have noticed before. If you only looked at your images at 6x4 print size, you wouldn´t be able to see this slight misfocusing. So here is actually and example when the tech has advanced beyond what we could achieve before. So it is good to have the opportunity to tweak the AF a bit in camera.


QuoteOriginally posted by Erictator Quote
Don't rattle off statistics or features, I know on paper, in this feature driven world, the old Ds should be a door stop. Just take a good picture with it and look at it. Maybe, like me, you'll wonder how far have we really come? Do I really need the next latest greatest to take good pictures?
Of course not! The Ds is plenty enough in quality speed and resolution for 90% of the users on this forum probably.

QuoteOriginally posted by Erictator Quote
Finally, after a couple years I've spent with the K5, I think Pentax came back to the Ds type of image, and surpassed it obviously. The K5 beats it in WB, speed, size, about every category really. I'm not sure I can explain how I feel, but it just seems like the K5 finally feels like the next real upgrade from the Ds, and the other models in-between were somehow less than worthy. I felt it (disappointment) immediately soon after each purchase.Not so with the K5... at least not until much later when the lens release button fell off and I had to send it in for repair, heh heh.
K-5 still has a lot to be desired in terms of QC. But that is the modern times reality and probably there is no (cheap) options on the market without QC issues

QuoteOriginally posted by Erictator Quote
I think the lesson I've learned is this: ... If you are just a hobbyist on a budget, I think it would do you well to realize right up front that no camera is perfect. If you have one that you like, enjoy the one you have until you wear it out or truly reach its limitations, or you'll waste your entire photographic life chasing some impossible dream, not to mention blow a whole lot of coin.
This is exactly my approach. I will keep using the K-5 as long as it lives or until someone steels it from me. I like it and I am ready to work around the various quirks it has.

QuoteOriginally posted by Erictator Quote
At this point in my life, I’ve sat out on the new stuff awhile, keeping my K5 even with the temptation of the new model K5II and IIS,and am re-evaluating where I want to take my photographic journey next. I'll admit I've got the itch for full frame... If Pentax released one very soon, it might get my attention, if the QC reports are good, and independent tests say the autofocus is on par with the competition... I’d pull the trigger on one, but I just don’t see anything coming soon.
The huge problem with Pentax in general is that quite often serious issues and bugs stay unnoticed for a while and even when they are known it still stays below the radar of an average user. Check the user reviews here or on other websites. Almost none of them mention any problems. With Canon or Nikon because of a much bigger user base the problems are discovered much sooner and get a much bigger exposure. A simple example: I have posted about a serious AF Fine Adjustment bug yesterday in the most popular sub-forum here. Apparently the issue was never mentioned before here and nevertheless there was very little interest in my report. The issue was in fact known since 2011 when another user has reported it to Pentax and got an acknowledgement from them. I bet he was the only one who was aware of the issue between 2011 and now. Another example: no professional reviews saw the FF issue with K-5 even though I remember it was actually possible to spot the issue on the very test images they have posted themselves. No user reviews on main websites mentioned it either. Even now many seem to be unaware of the issue and even fewer actually understand the conditions when it happens. And yet the problem was seriously studied by different professionals/users, reported to Pentax and even indirectly confirmed by Pentax itself. Problems like that are often uncovered with Nikon or Canon even before the first buyers start to receive their orders.

The reason is obvious. I estimate the number of Nikon D7000 users at an order of magnitude (a factor of 10) higher than Pentax K-5 users, for example. So the probability of a problem to be reported is ~10 times higher with the Nikon. Furthermore if those who report the problems are more active on average than other users (which is a reasonable assumption) the prominence of problems will be even higher.

Sorry for this rant. I will still stay with Pentax if I have to upgrade for a variety of reasons.
07-10-2013, 12:34 PM   #8
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Great to read your post. Timing couldn't be better. I just picked up a *ist Ds two days ago, because:

1. It happened to be cheap ($75, including first generation DA 18-55. Was this a good deal?)

2. Seller was local (and still a knowledgeable K-r user, so not like I ripped him off, he was just downsizing)

3. I wanted to see first-hand how much nicer CCD rendering looks compared to CMOS images

4. I wanted to better understand how the 6.1 MP image compares to the K-5, and to a modern 24 MP P&S.

5. I can understand the current K-5's menu structure and button layout/functions better, if I understand more of the Pentax DSLR history. Like, why the AF-L button has some functions that predate the green button. (Because the *ist Ds didn't have a green button.)

6. Sometimes it is a good training tool to get back to basics. Kinda like going back to film, but without the inconvenience. For example, forcing myself to shoot at lower ISO settings and pay more attention to lighting and my flash settup. Also, I had an old TTL flash lying around from a prior GBA rampage. What better way to meet GBA than with some complimentary GBA.

Here are some observations so far:

It has a real pentaprism viewfinder.

Build quality is great, I feel like this will last forever. Plastic outer shell, but good plastic. The doors have solid switches that snap shut, no rubber flaps!

I like having the top LCD. Functional, and looks more professional too, compared to other current mid- or upper-entry-level offerings.

Probably related to the above comment: The first thing I notice on someone's camera is whether the control dial is on the right side or left side, and thankfully this one is on the left. Maybe I am being a snob.

I love how the neck strap says "*ist DS" on it, instead of just "Pentax".

So far, my only annoyance is that I can't shoot JPEG+RAW.


Last edited by Tanzer; 07-12-2013 at 10:06 AM.
07-10-2013, 12:47 PM   #9
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Nice one
Allthough not bitten by the update-beast, I do suffer from LBA from time to time. To me that is more logical then the (usually) incremental steps between generations of camera-bodies.
But I kept my old K20d and for some things I still prefer it over the K5.
07-10-2013, 12:59 PM   #10
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Good to read your post & I agree 100%. My *istD was my first DSLR and it still sees a lot of use. Image quality is wonderful in good light. Compact, solid & sturdy, it feels like it will last forever.

You might want to wander over here to see images from other D (S, L) users on this forum: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/220644-istd-10th-a...y-tribute.html
07-10-2013, 01:24 PM   #11
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I can say that my first dSLR, the K100D, also has a special place in my heart for similar reasons as yours, Eric. Partly borne of nostalgia, but also of the knowledge that a lot of learning and experimenting was done with that camera, much like a first car.

I also attest that through time, succeeding cameras never really stood out as being superior to the colour rendition and quality of the K100D's brilliant 6Mp CCD sensor, the same as in the *ist D series, until the K-5 IIs. I felt that the K-5 was pretty close to what I got at 100% magnification, but the K-5 IIs just went that extra step in IQ that I can say it reigns in that arena for APS-C.

Eric, if you are interested in a fine camera that produces great images to please you above that of your venerable *ist Ds, test drive a K-5 IIs and see for yourself.


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07-10-2013, 01:39 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Erictator Quote
What's the point in Safox ver 10 zillion if I still have to manually adjust each lens in-camera?
This can happen to any camera from any manufacturer and it is normal.
Take a look at this blog:
LensRentals.com - "This lens is soft" and other myths
I think you could find some answers to your questions in this guy´s posts.

Also, despite marketing, consumerism, advertising, globalization, etc. Whether an upgrade is really an upgrade depends a lot on the end user application.
For example, from the post it sounds like you take photos for a hobby so why would you want a "full frame" DLSR? what is it you can´t do right now with the APS-C sensor?
Features are exactly that: Features. They are there to plead for the added value of the camera. But at the end of the day, as long as Aperture, Shutter speed and ISO (maybe... probably) controls are there...
Again, depends on application. I´d be happy to use a Range finder with 3 primes. But it´s expensive, not wheather sealed and autofocus is not that great.
Wildlife, sports, events photographers... Landscape, travelling, concert photographers... street, family, holidays photographer... Which tool will you choose and how much do you want it to do for you?
07-10-2013, 02:07 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by carrrlangas Quote
This can happen to any camera from any manufacturer and it is normal.
Take a look at this blog:
LensRentals.com - "This lens is soft" and other myths
I think you could find some answers to your questions in this guy´s posts.

Also, despite marketing, consumerism, advertising, globalization, etc. Whether an upgrade is really an upgrade depends a lot on the end user application.
For example, from the post it sounds like you take photos for a hobby so why would you want a "full frame" DLSR? what is it you can´t do right now with the APS-C sensor?
Features are exactly that: Features. They are there to plead for the added value of the camera. But at the end of the day, as long as Aperture, Shutter speed and ISO (maybe... probably) controls are there...
Again, depends on application. I´d be happy to use a Range finder with 3 primes. But it´s expensive, not wheather sealed and autofocus is not that great.
Wildlife, sports, events photographers... Landscape, travelling, concert photographers... street, family, holidays photographer... Which tool will you choose and how much do you want it to do for you?
No time for a lengthy reply, but reasons for full frame would be multi fold...I'm not saying there is anything I can't do right now... I said I am planning my next phase in my photographic journey. Not today, probably not tomorrow. I'm holding out on ANY upgrades right now, because I am sitting back to see what Pentax does next.

I don't want to start a flame war, but assuming Pentax doesnt bring out a FF in the next year or two, then going FF means switching brands, so one reason to go FF could potentially be improved AF, the other reason could be more effective DOF isolation. With the pixels spaced further apart on a larger heat sink, noise goes down too, Etc etc. With full frame, you can zoom out for action shots so as to capture the moving target, and still be able to use the cropped image with less noise. etc etc etc. You know all the reasons for FF, so I shouldnt even have to explain.

When I shot film, I shot some 4x5 plate film and Pentax 6x7, but mostly Pentax 645. The 645 was awesome for weddings and handled reasonably fast. I even used it for travel photography, and lugged it around up in the mountains. I miss the grainless enlargement capabilities. They rocked! I was happy to work a little slower to get a better image. I shoot more action now, so medium format (and film) doesn't have the same appeal, but the idea of a fast and accurate focusing FF does give me pause.

Eric
07-10-2013, 06:25 PM   #14
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I too loved my *ist DS so much I held onto it. It's a great little camera. I love the size and grip. If I could get the guts of my K-5 IIs implanted into the body of my *ist DS I'd consider surgically implanting it onto my hand.
07-10-2013, 07:11 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Erictator Quote
I don't want to start a flame war, but assuming Pentax doesnt bring out a FF in the next year or two, then going FF means switching brands, so one reason to go FF could potentially be improved AF, the other reason could be more effective DOF isolation. With the pixels spaced further apart on a larger heat sink, noise goes down too, Etc etc. With full frame, you can zoom out for action shots so as to capture the moving target, and still be able to use the cropped image with less noise. etc etc etc. You know all the reasons for FF, so I shouldnt even have to explain.
Sorry, I didn´t mean to emphasize on FF.
You want something that doesn´t exist on Pentax land and you don´t think it will exist any time soon and at the same time, you say there is nothing you can´t do with your current equipment. That´s why I say "upgrades" are so to the extend of their application and automation needed/wanted/expected by the end user.
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