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11-26-2016, 10:55 AM   #1
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Taking a Step Back - from K-5 to *istDS

A short while ago, I bought a secondhand *istDS. I had been a long-time owner of the *istDL, and was sort of upset when mine could not be resurrected, because in the time since I bought a K-5 to replace it and started accumulating Takumar glass, I had read much about how the CCD sensor worked real magic when united with Takumar lenses. Alas when I sent it in, they told me there weren't the requisite parts for it (despite it not yet being listed as unsupported).

Fast forward, and I had obtained an AF080C ring flash, but taking pictures on my K-5 was fraught with fiddliness and thank God for the preview-shot mode. Time wore on, and the temptation to have a digital camera that would support the Pentax TTL analogue protocol was too strong. This one was going for $90, was advertised as being in full working order, and wasn't coming across international lines, so I figured why not.

Well, full TTL flash protocol is a revelation. Except when really close (where the camera sort of blinds and confuses itself) and really far away (where the flash runs out of OOMPH, especially in bounce mode), the results I get are nothing short of excellent. The results from the CCD sensor are excellent within the 6MP bounds when the exposure is good, and frankly everything gets downsampled on the media I usually post to anyway (Facebook and Flickr). And it isn't exactly a slouch in P-TTL mode either; it will run my AF540FGZ-II very nicely.

When I first graduated up from *istDL to K-5, I really wasn't using all the capabilities of the camera. I'm still not, but here is what I suddenly find I'm missing when I forsake the K-5 for the *istDS (which apart from the TTL is so much like the DL as to make no difference):

1) That second control wheel. You get used to pushing the aperture button after a while, and in Tv or Av mode it's sort of irrelevant, but it's still great to have in manual mode.

2) The expanded ISO range (80/100 at the low end, and 6400+ at the high).

3) THE GREEN BUTTON. Holy heck, I never knew just how useful it was till I started playing around with K/M series lenses on the *istDS this afternoon (including a Rikenon-P 55/1.2 which is equivalent to K/M on Pentax bodies). Long and the short, if you have an *istD-series camera and you are considering manual focus K mount lenses, IMO you should preferentially head for Pentax-A or equivalent, which allow in-camera aperture control. Otherwise I hope you have a light meter with you or are good at guessing.

4) The ability to develop raw files in camera if need be (I have used this facility out in the field A LOT).

5) The autofocus module is substantially slower, more grindy and more uncertain than the K-5's, even on a stationary target and especially in very low light (lack of AF assist doesn't help).

6) WR. No loss; none of my film cameras have this anyway, and the *istDL didn't either. Which means its inability to drive focus on any WR DC lens is also less of an issue, except that the 18-135 is a very nice wide-tele on APS-C even indoors.

7) PC sync port. This is the only camera I own that doesn't have one. Yes, you can buy attachments that turn the hotshoe into a PC sync output, but with my current equipment and film digitisation workflow, it`s a PITA not to have one.

All this is academic for me really, since the reason I really bought this camera was to use an AF080C TTL ring flash on the 35/2.8 Limited Macro, and to play around a bit with Takumars. For the Taks I am either in Av mode or using a light meter, so that part doesn't matter. Interestingly enough, a few shots with a thoriated Tak 50/1.4 are enough to suggest that the CCD sensor doesn't see the yellowing as much as the CMOS does; only when I boost saturation to its maximum is there any strong discoloration.

In the end, nothing to whine about - it's small, it's light, it takes AA batteries (so it's flexible), it takes reasonable pictures at any ISO you used to be able to buy colour film for at a consumer level, and it will work well with a broad range of Pentax flashes (and better with some than any camera which came after it). Back compatibility with lenses is no more than a bonus feature; with DA screwdrive lenses it hums sweetly, and with Taks it works nicely in Av mode. I would almost keep it as my only DSLR, but the lack of a PC sync port (see above) counts against it for some things that I do.

Does anyone know what cable I buy in order to take my TTL flashes off-camera?

11-26-2016, 11:09 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
3) THE GREEN BUTTON.
IIRC, you can program the AE-L button for stop-down metering on the DS. I have the original *ist D (which does have a green button), and find the stopdown metering very accurate.
11-26-2016, 11:14 AM   #3
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The extension cord F5P would work for off-camera TTL flash (so would the shorter variant) in connection with the hot shoe adapter F or FG and off-camera shoe adapter F. Check out the various accessories here.
11-26-2016, 12:18 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
3) THE GREEN BUTTON.
In M mode, the AE-L button is the green button and will auto set the shutter speed when using a -M lens.
Altenately, you can hold the DOF preview lever, and set the shutter manually by the wheel to 0.0 EV( or whatever) in the viewfinder.

See pages 138, bottom of 139, and 179 of the ist ds manual.

11-26-2016, 03:06 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by paulh Quote
I have the original *ist D (which does have a green button), and find the stopdown metering very accurate.
You are not the first to notice that stopdown metering on *istD works much better than on later series cameras. Long-time member #Lowell_Goudge would often mention it when people complained bitterly about stopdown performance on the K10D and K20D. IIRC, he felt that the better performance had to do with the focus screen.


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11-26-2016, 05:34 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by wombat2go Quote
In M mode, the AE-L button is the green button and will auto set the shutter speed when using a -M lens. Altenately, you can hold the DOF preview lever, and set the shutter manually by the wheel to 0.0 EV( or whatever) in the viewfinder.
I have just tried both these methods. The AE-L method underexposes by two stops. The DOF method reproduces more or less accurately what my eyes see.

Thank you all for the clarification.

---------- Post added 26-11-16 at 21:06 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Ole Quote
The extension cord F5P would work for off-camera TTL flash (so would the shorter variant) in connection with the hot shoe adapter F or FG and off-camera shoe adapter F.
Many thanks. Does this also mediate P-TTL protocol? It would be handy to be able to use it on both my DSLR bodies.
11-27-2016, 09:50 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
The AE-L method underexposes by two stops.
This method relies on the -M lens stopping down snappily and consistently.
Underexp might indicate a sluggish stop down in your lens.

Also the ist ds Histogram shows the brightness of the jpg after the ITU709 inverse gamma is applied
I measured this curve by taking a number of exposures of a white table cloth, each time stopping down by one stop.
https://app.box.com/s/mgb1scyfkr821t55slscbtwwadto27yp

---------- Post added 11-27-16 at 12:13 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
Does this also mediate P-TTL protocol?
Using the FP5 cable and the two hot shoes on the Ist ds, the AF360FGZ as off camera flash( on flash bracket) will stay in TTL mode if a -M lens is on.
With a DA lens (etc) the flash will switch to P-TTL mode. This will enable auto zooming of the flash, also the AF360 will emit a burst during auto focussing.

Last edited by wombat2go; 11-27-2016 at 10:13 AM.
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