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Pentax *ist DS

So Pentax's latest offering is out. By all accounts it is a great camera, priced between Canon's Digital Rebel and Nikon's D70.

One thing I like about dpreview.com is it's side-by-side comparison: D70 vs. *ist DS. Very similar specs. The D70 has some advantages in some areas, the DS has some advatages of its own.

One big thing that doesn't show up on this comparison is the fact that the DS's RAW files are not compressed. They estimate you can fit 90 RAW files onto a 1 GB SD card.

Compare this to the D70 (and the 300D?) which uses lossless compression for its RAW files which means that you can get somewhere in the neighbourhood of 190 pictures on a 1 GB flash card. Using compression lowers the bandwidth load between the camera and the flash card, so the D70 is also able to get images onto the card faster and clear the buffer faster so that the next picture can be taken sooner. The D70 or 300D give me more bang for the buck in terms of memory cards.

The D70 has an orientation sensor (a nice feature that I would have expected to see on any camera made since 2003), faster max. shutter speed, faster shot rate, can have more images in the buffer before having to wait, wider range of exposure compensation, and probably the best metering system out there.

On the other hand, the DS uses regular AA batteries, which is great. You can get decent NiMH batteries that last a long time, and in an emergency, AA batteries can be found pretty much everywhere. It looks like it's got a better viewfinder than the D70, has a larger LCD (although that can mean it uses more power), and is smaller and lighter than the D70.

I guess the proof is in the pudding - can the DS take great pictures? I'm going to wait until some more complete reviews come out before making any judgements...

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