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05-23-2009, 09:03 PM   #1
Ole's Avatar

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Pentax *istDL

The Pentax *istDL resembles the *istDS2 but was offered at a lower price point made possible by replacing the pentaprism with a pentamirror and removing some features, hereunder TTL flash support and display of the active AF point in the viewfinder. It has 3 autofocus points where the DS2 has 11.

Pentax *istDL
Year introduced
KAF2 (without coupling for aperture ring)
Meter range
1 to 21.5 EV
Meter pattern
m c s
ISO range (expanded)
200 - 3200
Expanded dynamic range
Exposure modes
AutoPict, P, Av, Tv, M, B
Exposure modes with M and K lenses are restricted to Av (with aperture always wide open) and M
Program modes
Normal, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Action, Night-scene Portrait, Flash Off
Scene Modes
Exposure compensation
+/-2 EV
Exposure lock
Shutter speeds (auto)
30s - 1/4000s (stepless)
Shutter speeds (manual)
B, 30s - 1/4000s
Mirror lock-up
Self timer / Interval shooting
Yes / No
Continuous shooting
2.8 fps up to 5 frames
Shake reduction
Auto bracketing
Yes (3 frames)
HDR mode
Multiple exposures
Built-in flash
Yes, GN 15.6 (ISO 200)
TTL flash
P-TTL flash
Sync speed
Flash exposure comp
-2 to 1 EV
Extra external flash functions
Wireless, High-speed, Contrast control
Yes (SAFOX VIII, 3 focus points)
Autofocus sensitivity
-1 to 18 EV
Autofocus with SDM
AF Assist
Front/Back focus corr
Power zoom
Lens correction
0.85x, 95%
Viewfinder type
Diopter adjustment
-2.5 to +1.5
AF Points in viewfinder
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Digital preview
Live view
Video/Movie Mode
Movie mode restrictions
Not applicable
Sound in Movie mode
Not applicable
Camera controls
1 control wheel. Most functions accessed through menus
Custom Functions
6.1 MP CCD
Image size
15.8 x 23.6 mm
Color Depth
3 x 12 bit (RAW)
Dust removal / alert
No / No
Pixel mapping
File format
Memory card type
SD (SDHC with firmware upgrade)
Back LCD
2.5 in. 210,000 pix
Weather resistant
4 x AA
Battery grip
Size (W x H x D)
125 x 92.5 x 67 mm
470 g
Latest firmware
Version 1.03

Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K20D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K20D  Photo   

Last edited by Ole; 02-12-2011 at 02:01 PM.
05-24-2009, 10:42 PM   #2
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I own this mean little machine since November 2007, shooting with it more than 30k photos in 2.5 years. It's a pretty basic camera, owning nothing of the fancy mambo-jambo that spoil the modern DSLR user. No SR, no FD and a very basic AF system with only 3 points (frankly, only the center point is usable and it struggles in low light), very loud mirror slap. It's also quite slow, especially when shooting RAW. The viewfinder is big enough (but not that bright), making manual focusing easier, and the focusing screen is interchangeable, making the use of manual lenses a real joy. The construction is sturdy, it feels like you could drop it and it wouldn't break at all.
In 2009 I would recommend this to anyone who shoots Pentax and needs a small backup body.

Price paid in 2007: 400$
Shots fired: ~ 30 000
Used for: macro, portraits, landscapes
Problems experienced: N/A
05-25-2009, 01:02 PM   #3
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Posts: 15

I've had mine since the spring of 2006. As many reviews pointed out mine was a bit soft out of the box so I went in and cranked up the sharpness a bit. This is my first AF camera and I would rate the AF as not bad but it could definitely be better.

My first serious shoot was my niece's high school graduation. I shot it from quite a distance with a Tamron 75-300mm. The AF hunted a bit but overall I got some great images with both it and the kit lens. I think the kit lens is quite good. Later on I got an FA 28-90mm and have been disappointed with it. Substantial stopping down is necessary for decent images. I haven't tried it on a film camera.

I have a lot of film lenses but have only used my few "A" series lenses with it. Some day I need to sit down and figure out how to use my M-series primes. I've got some good ones.

I took it to Alaska later in 2006 and I was very pleased with the images I got. My wife had some enlargements made of the best Alaska images and they are excellent until you're about to bump your nose into them.

All in all I'm happy with it.
10-10-2009, 12:18 PM   #4
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My First Digital SLR

I bought the *istDL in March 2006 as my first digital SLR. As a long-time user of Pentax, I did not consider other brands. I was not disappointed in this Pentax. It's reliable, easy to use, and older lenses are compatible.

I have used the camera at work as a photojournalist. Because there are so few controls and options I had no trouble learning how to use it to its fullest. The most frequent change I made was to the ISO setting for low-light settings.

I added a Sigma external flash and from then on I could shoot in any light and get good pics.

Using the veteran Pentax-M 150mm lens I got great portraits with nice brokeh.

I typically only use RAW for photos taken outside of work. While the camera industry has moved on -- since this now a digital world -- *istDL was a solid entry at the time.

10-26-2009, 12:41 AM   #5
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A great workhorse, bought mine as soon as they became available in Oz. Done SO much work and always reliable. The big negative is the fact that there is no additional battery unit. Carrying a few extra kg of batteries is a real fag, especially when in a theatre venue , shooting a whole show. Apart from that irritation, can't fault it as a great entry level unit.
Works great with all my "legacy" M42 lenses. And just loves those old prime lenses.
05-07-2010, 07:54 AM   #6
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Pentax *istDL Camera Review

Cons 6 mpx , tough on batteries
Pros wieght/size, simplicity , price
Rating 8
Price $200.00
Years Owned 1.5

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
I carried and used this camera every day and at it's price didn't feel I had to baby it! Uses AA batteries.

Camera Review
Saw one of these used for $200 with a lens and thought it would make a good "throw in the truck" carry around camera. After a while I got so used to the feel of this camera I preferred it in some ways to my K20D. The down side is it's only 6 megapixels and I do like large prints. I gave this camera to a friend who is still using it today and bought a K200D for my carry camera as a happy compromise.
If you are starting out in digital photography or are looking for a simple , inexpensive camera body as a backup or carry around, I would say this is a great bang for the buck.

Last edited by seacapt; 05-07-2010 at 08:10 AM.
09-10-2010, 08:30 PM   #7
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Pentax *istDL Camera Review

Pros AA batts, simplicity, Stopped-down/DOF preview function,
Cons getting old/obsolete, no image stabilization, slow
Rating 5
Price (U.S. Dollars) $50
Years Owned about 9 mos.

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Modern form and function in older design.

Camera Review
I only bought this camera from a guy at work to have something to use as an eyepiece camera for telescope work and to mount my old Pentax film M-style lenses. I must say -- I've grown to like this camera. I like being able to use the AA batteries so I'm not stuck with another proprietary battery form to maintain and I like the amount of use it gets out of every charge. Much better than my Canon S2is digicam. I like the DOF preview/iris stop-down feature, something missing from every other digital camera I've used. As a manual camera user all the way back to the days of the Spotmatic, I really miss the little lever that closes the iris and lets me see the actual depth of field as it will appear in the image. The *ist DL is slow and noisy but it's already got the SD type memory card - with SDHC if you update the firmware, USB access and it will store RAWs. If it's made like any other Pentax I've had, it should last for many more years of service.
12-03-2010, 09:01 AM   #8
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Pentax *istDL Camera Review

Pros Price, ease of use, durable,
Cons auto focus slow in low light conditions
Rating 10
Price (U.S. Dollars) $350
Years Owned 5

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Auto focus, Auto and manual modes, downward compatible lense use. Good battery life with CR3V.

Camera Review
The ist D is a great value and you get a lot of features for the money. It is very durable. I have taken thousands of images and it is still going strong, it was dropped once and suffered no ill affects. AA or CR3v batteries can be used

The ist D is downward compatible with older k-mount lenses.

You can buy more exotic camera's but this has all the basic features you really need. The ist D is to digital what the PentaxSuper Program is to film camera's.

It was a worthy replacement for my Pentax Super Program that I used for many yeas.

01-25-2011, 06:21 PM   #9
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Pentax *istDL Camera Review

Pros Modest size, solid feel
Cons can;t find any!
Rating 9
Price (U.S. Dollars) $599
Years Owned 4 1/2 years

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Uses AA batteries, small size, good feel.

Camera Review
This was my first DSLR. As soon as a I picked it up in the store, it felt right and I had to have it! It was also my first auto focus and auto everything camera, and it reignited my passion for photography! It provides fantastic images, even without shake reduction. It might be kind of humble next to a K10D or later camera, but it will hold it's own in image quality and a beginner will not be overwhelmed. My wife got my original istDL when I got a K10D, but I had to have another one! I use it as a travel and hiking camera with a Tamron 18-200. It is light and unobtrusive.
01-25-2011, 10:48 PM   #10
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Pentax *istDL Camera Review

Pros Light,great basic starter camera,uses AA batteries
Cons Rather out-dated, 6mp,slow AF
Rating 7
Price (U.S. Dollars) 590.00 (in 2006)
Years Owned 3 years

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
My first DSLR...( replaced my Pz1p`s shutter problem on vacation)...great camera, decent jpegs,good colors,exposures were usually good too. Very user friendly,menu is easy to catch -on to, a bit slow with AF,also a little erratic showing battery strength(will display low reading but if you switched it to OFF then turned ON it would show full charge.!!)

Camera Review
Overall this camera has served me well,shot over 8,000 pics with no serious issues, handed down to my son & it`s still going strong!!
03-05-2011, 10:20 PM   #11
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Location: Gilmer,Texas.
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Posts: 36
Pentax *istDL Camera Review

Pros A good light weight easy to use camera.
Cons The 2gb limit on the sd card.
Rating 9
Price (U.S. Dollars) $640
Years Owned I bought mine in Feb.2006,and still use it.

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
A very good value for a camera of it's size. The attached image is one that I took at a play-off game this last football season.

Camera Review
This was the first dslr I bought. I use it for shooting high school football from the sidelines. It is a good camera for any type of photography. I would recommend it to anyone, Iam very pleased with mine.
03-13-2011, 12:01 PM   #12
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Location: Windsor, Colorado
Posts: 196
Pentax *istDL Camera Review

Pros small, light, solid build, top LCD
Cons finicky with battery connection, 6MP
Rating 9 (for its day)
Price (U.S. Dollars) $450 in 2006
Years Owned 5

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Excellent image quality, LCD screen size large at the time, top LCD very handy, very reliable, works well even in very cold temps

Camera Review
My first DLSR. Hooked me on Pentax quality, and it's how I learned to appreciate the underdog attributes associated with comparing Pentax to the other big companies. I remember my first photo trip with it.....shooting landscapes in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. My friend owned a Rebel XT and had to concede the build quality of not only the body of the DL, but the kit lens as well was superior to his model.

What I like about it most beyond the image quality is that it seems so durable. It fits your hands well and has a nice texture to it. It's perfect from a size and weight standpoint if you do a lot of hiking and don't want to carry around a larger body.

One thing about it is you have to really tinker with it to find optimal settings. There are a host of variables to consider, but the key one is to change the default "bright" is WAY too vivid and creates excessive noise. Use the "natural" setting and it really does take some very nice JPEG images. The RAW are excellent, but it does not do both at the same time. Yes, it is only 6MP....but at least the file sizes are not that large accordingly, and as long as you don't crop too heavily the images do not degrade.

I would say this camera's IQ was better than anything else in its class at the time....esp. for the money back then. $450 dollars with a kit lens was a bargain.....and now you can get a used one for much less. Highly recommend it for a beginner DSLR or as a lightweight and small backup.

Instead of posting photos, I'll provide this link to my online albums.....most of them were taken with this camera: ccd333's photos and albums on webshots

Addendum #1 - This in reference to one of the cons redmutt alluded to.....the 2gb limit for sd card capacity. There was a firmware upgrade to allow the DL to utilize SDHC (as krugwaffle pointed out), and I've been using a 4gb Class 6 in mine for the last few months and it works perfectly. Also, it was one of the first DSLR's to use secure digital......the Canon Rebel used the cumbersome Compact Flash (which were anything but). I remember at the time, Canon users would refer to the Pentax sd card idea as a reason to not take it seriously as a camera (equating it with point and shoots). How things have changed.

Last edited by ccd333; 03-20-2011 at 02:01 PM.
03-28-2011, 11:37 PM   #13
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Pentax *istDL Camera Review

Pros Better than my point and shoot, lots of lens available
Cons Only 3 image burst (in raw), slow writing to card
Rating 9
Price (U.S. Dollars) 300
Years Owned almost a year

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Better than point and shoot. If you can find one new or barely used its about as much as an expensive high end point and shoot. Most of the feature are explained in the review.

Camera Review
I bought this camera last summer (july 10') for about 300 dollars, brand new on ebay. Its my first DSLR and I love it. Its served me well and I have only a few minor complaints, things that I easily overlook because of the fact that the camera does its job well. I have no complaints about the "only" 6MP size. If you get in photo shop and crop, you can crop like 1/30th(maybe more, just a guess, but really you can crop a really small portion of the picture) the size of the picture without it being pixelated. Pentax lenses are more common and probably cheaper, you also have the m42 adapter to expand your choice of lenses even more. The pictures it takes are pretty good, not as clear or sharp as other cameras, but I've no complaints about that. The lens its comes with is a great combination. My only complaints are the view finder is too small compared to my other cameras, it makes focusing a task and a half. The write speed to flash cards is agonizingly slow, and my biggest gripe with that is in RAW, you can only burst 3 pictures before it has to load those to the flash card. That sucks if say you're photographing sports, or in my scenario people discharging firearms. If you buy rechargable batteries they should last longer than regular double A's and they'll save you money too. The stop down feature ( think thats it) where it sets the exposure works pretty good, but I feel like it only gets you in the general area, I usually end up going a few turns higher in shutter speed.

I'm probably forgetting some things, but I'd say overall its a great camera despite its small draw backs, great entry level DSLR even today in the world of 12MP cameras and stuff. You learn to appreciate what you have, and also you know what you would LIKE to see in your next camera.

Flickr: fgmachine's Photostream
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