PATCHED Pentax Photo Laboratory And Photo Browser
The lens is very similar to the ones included with comparable DSLRs, although not quite as sharp. Like most other DSLR kit lenses, the lens tends to distort at the wide angle end. F/5.6 is awfully slow for a short zoom, and really not suitable for indoor available-light photography.
PATCHED Pentax Photo Laboratory and Photo Browser
At 4.9 x 3.7 x 2.6 inches and less than 20 ounces, the *ist DL is remarkably small among DSLRs. The Canon Rebel XT is comparably small at 5 x 3.7 x 2.5 inches, and the other sub-$1000 cameras aren't much bigger. Photographers jumping from 35mm SLRs to digital SLRs (are there any of those photographers left?) will probably be surprised by how small and light the *ist DL is. The camera will be comfortable to carry on a shoulder strap for a day of sightseeing or other events.
That's a good feature for experienced photographers who hate having to override "safety features" designed to protect inexperienced users from spoiling their shots. On the other hand, inexperienced users are going to get frustrated by all those spoiled shots.
The *ist DL ships with Pentax Photo Browser and Pentax Photo Laboratory software. Browser is for sorting and viewing images, and watching them as slide shows. Oddly, it doesn't download photos from the camera. You have to drag and drop them via your operating system. The Laboratory software converts RAW images to JPEGs or TIFFs. RAW offers adjustments for white balance, sensitivity, saturation, contrast, and sharpness, and the option to adjust curves.
Value*(7.5)*It's great to see an inexpensive DSLR with a usable ISO 3200 setting. Buying this camera with an f/2.0 or f/1.4 lens would be an inexpensive option for users interested in low light shooting, and for such night owls, such a setup would be a good value. For users who don't plan to specialize in low light photography, competitive cameras with better autofocus mechanisms could be a better choice, though it's awfully hard to overlook that great LCD. With more than a couple LCDs beyond 200K pixels on compact cameras, it's pretty hard to justify the nasty little displays we see on DSLRs. It's also great to see another inexpensive DSLR with a metal chassis and other features that indicate durability. No one knows what the latest cameras will be like 10 years from now, but I'm willing to bet that the average *ist DL will take a decade of active use and still perform well.
The PENTAX K20D features a newly developed CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) image sensor measuring 23.4 mm x 15.6 mm. In designing the K20D, PENTAX made the significant transition to a higher resolution 14.6 megapixel sensor, rivaling the detail previously only found in images captured with 35mm film. This considerable gain offers 50 percent more resolution than 10 megapixel sensors, and 20 percent more resolution than 12 megapixel sensors. PENTAX Imaging (a leading innovator in the imaging business) collaborated with Samsung Electronics (a market leader in developing and producing semiconductors) in the development of the 14.6 megapixel CMOS Sensor found in the PENTAX K20D Digital SLR. The larger photo diode in the sensor gathers more light in a shorter time and therefore can respond more sensitively. As a result, the K20D is able to achieve higher sensitivity levels (up to 6400 in the expanded ISO mode). Also, there is a more direct light path to the pixels. Coupled with a high-performance imaging engine incorporating PENTAX-original image-processing technologies programmed to yield natural, true-to-life images, the new model assures fine-detailed, rich-gradation images.
The K20D is equipped with the PENTAX-developed Shake Reduction mechanism, which reduces camera shake for sharp, blur-free images even under demanding shooting conditions, such as shooting with a telephoto lens, shooting in low light conditions or at night without supplementary flash illumination, or using extended exposures for sunset scenes. This innovative mechanism offers outstanding compensation equivalent to approximately 2.5 to 4 shutter-speed steps. In addition, the lighter image sensor unit and refined data-control algorithm offer improved image stabilization over previous models. PENTAX Shake Reduction is compatible with existing PENTAX interchangeable lenses.* * Lenses compatible with this mechanism are: PENTAX K-, KA-, KAF- and KAF2-mount lenses, screw-mount lenses (with an adapter); and 645- and 67-system lenses (with an adapter). Some functions may not be applicable with certain lenses. Large 2.7 Inch Wide-view LCD Monitor
The K20D features a large 2.7 inch color LCD monitor with approximately 230,000* dots resolution. The wide-view design allows the photographer to view the monitor image from approximately 160 degrees both vertically and horizontally. Since it assures effortless image viewing from a diagonal position, it facilitates low- and high-angle shooting using the Live View function. * One dot equals 3 pixels.
The K20D features a Live View function that allows users to view an image on the LCD monitor during shooting. This feature is beneficial when the photographer moves his or her eye from the viewfinder in specialized applications, such as low and high-angle shooting, or when perfecting composition. The function also allows users to confirm the Shake-Reduction effect on the monitor while shooting. High-performance, High-speed PRIME Imaging Engine
The K20D incorporates the PENTAX-original PRIME (Pentax Real IMage Engine). Designed exclusively for PENTAX digital SLR cameras, the engine ensures well-balanced, true-to-life images with faithful color reproduction by efficiently controlling digital signals transmitted by the CMOS image sensor. It also allows complete control over other photographic factors including white balance and the new Custom Image functions. This imaging engine also features a Double Data Rate 2 (DDR2) memory to assure speedy image processing and high-speed data transfer. Custom Image Function
The K20D is equipped with a new Custom Image function that lets the user select one of the six modes and adjust an image's processing to their preference by automatically adjusting tone, saturation, contrast, and sharpness. These modes include Natural, Bright, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant, and B&W image modes. The photographer can make further fine-tuned adjustments to each setting. The effect on each of the primary colors is shown in a radar-type display on the LCD panel. The user can easily see the effect of their adjustments by using the digital preview option. Expanded Dynamic Range Function
The K20D's Hyper Program function allows users to instantly switch to the Shutter-Priority or Aperture-Priority AE mode from the Programmed AE mode with a simple turn of the electronic dials on the grip. To return to the Programmed AE mode, simply press the green button positioned next to the shutter release button. Hyper Manual Function When shooting in Manual mode, one push of the green button allows the user to instantly set the proper exposure for the subject. Sensitivity-Priority Mode The K20D features a unique Sensitivity-Priority (Sv) mode designed to automatically select the optimum combination of aperture and shutter speed for a user-selected sensitivity. The sensitivity can be shifted instantly in 1/2 or 1/3 steps by turning the electronic dial on the back panel. Shutter/Aperture-Priority Mode Taking full advantage of the unique capability of digital cameras, which permit automatic shift of sensitivity at any time, the Shutter/Aperture-Priority (TAv) mode automatically selects the most appropriate sensitivity for a user-selected shutter-speed/aperture combination. This mode allows users to experiment with a greater range of photographic expressions with greater ease. Bright, Clear Viewfinder
To trace the movement of an active subject or capture a sequence of the subject's expressions, the K20D offers a continuous shooting mode that allows the photographer to capture as many as 38 images in succession (in JPEG recording format) at a maximum speed of approximately three images (frames) per second. When switched to the new high-speed advance mode, the user may capture up to approximately 115 images at the speed of approximately 21 images per second.* * The image size is fixed at 1.6 megapixels in the Burst Shooting mode. High-precision 11-point wide-frame AF
A PC Sync socket for shooting with studio lights. The camera remains weather and dust sealed even when the PC socket cap is removed. Choice of 16-segment multi-pattern metering, center-weighted metering and spot metering to accommodate various photographic applications Reliable, durable shutter unit assuring more than 100,000 shutter releases High-rigidity stainless-steel chassis 36 custom functions to personalize camera operations Universal-type X-sync socket RAW button for single-action image-file switching Digital Preview for verifying camera settings Optional Battery Grip (D-BG2) for extended shooting sessions Nine digital filters to add creative and artistic touches In-body RAW data development for image filing in JPEG and TIFF formats Compatibility with SDM equipped lenses for quiet, extra-smooth autofocus operation PENTAX PHOTO Laboratory 3, RAW data processing software, PENTAX PHOTO Browser 3, browser software and PENTAX REMOTE Assistant 3, camera control software, included on the accompanying CD-ROM
On the other hand, the sharpening is pleasing again. Pentax has set it up extremely intelligently by hardly sharpening in the light and dark areas, which effectively prevents clipping, while sharpening is strongest in the medium brightness areas, leaving a crisp image impression. The usual lens weaknesses of the kit lens are shown not only in the resolution but also in the vignetting and distortion. Especially at 18 mm the vignetting is very clear, which leads to visibly darker corners. The distortion is strongly barrel-shaped, so that lines running parallel to the edge of the picture are clearly bent towards the edge of the picture. In the medium and telephoto focal length range of the lens, however, vignetting does not play a significant role; distortion in the medium focal length is low, as expected, before it becomes slightly cushion-shaped at 55 mm, so that lines parallel to the image edge are visibly bent towards the center of the image.