Pentax’s Disappointing D-SLR
The Pentax *ist DS2 (body only, $750 street) falls well short of the standard set by its D-SLR counterparts. Aside
from a large LCD screen and its ability to run on double-A batteries, we didn’t fi nd much to get excited about.
Funneling light to the 6.1- megapixel sensor is the Pentax smc P-DA 18mm to 55mm zoom lens (equivalent to a
35mm lens with a 27mm to 82.5mm zoom range) with corresponding f-stops from f/3.5 to f/5.6. The lens ($199.95
list) is not included with the camera, though, which seems overpriced. Beyond that, performance is so-so.
We found the burst mode to be steady, although not ultrafast, and we liked that we could take shot after shot without pausing. But when we compared our test images with the stunning results from cameras like the Rebel XT, the Olympus Evolt E-500, and the Nikon D50, the DS2’s underexposed and lackluster pictures just didn’t cut it.
In our daylight shots, the DS2 introduced more grain and colored noise than the D50. The daylight still life was underexposed by about 1.5 to 2 f-stops, resulting in a dark image. Color saturation was good, especially in the reds and yellows.
Our f lash test shot was also underexposed. Again, the camera was most accurate at rendering the reds and
yellows, and there was very little fringing. The average of horizontal and vertical resolution was 1,400 lines—low
for a 6.1MP camera. The DS2 took an average of 1.2 seconds to boot, which is slow for a D-SLR. The 1.5- second recycle time was also slow, though we found virtually no shutter lag. The image displayed some barrel distortion at the wideangle end of the zoom and some pincushioning at the telephoto end. In the incredibly competitive world of D-SLRs, manufacturers must create nearly flawless devices. Given the unimpressive performance and image quality of the Pentax *ist DS2, we think most competitors, including our present Editor’s Choice, the Nikon D50, are better buys.
BY TERRY SULLIVAN