One of our forum moderators, Eliwood, has tracked down some information on a new entry level digital SLR from Pentax, the Pentax *ist DL.
UPDATE: The camera will be available in July 2005 with the smc PENTAX DA 18-55mm digital lens for under $800 US. Official Press Release
PENTAX Corporation is pleased to announce the marketing of the PENTAX *ist DL digital SLR camera. With a compact, lightweight body, simplified operations and outstanding cost performance, the *ist DL is designed to extend the advantages of high-quality digital SLR photography, including lens interchangeability, to photographers of all levels, even those who are unfamiliar with digital and SLR photography.
The new *ist DL was designed as an affordable starter camera by further advancing PENTAX's digital camera development concepts of "user-friendliness" and "a harmony between ease of use and portability."
Despite its compact, lightweight design, the *is tDL features 6.1 effective megapixels, an extra-large 2.5-inch color LCD monitor, and compatibility with most interchangeable PENTAX lenses. Combining high-quality image reproduction with simple, user-friendly operations, the *ist DL is the ideal digital SLR for a variety of users, including digital photography beginners, families and those who plan to step up from digital compact cameras to digital SLRs.
1. User-friendly automatic operations
The *ist DL is equipped with the innovative Auto Picture Mode, which automatically and instantly selects the most appropriate Picture mode from Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Macro or Action for a given subject or situation to assure the optimum combination of aperture, shutter speed, white balance, saturation, contrast, and intensity of edges. In addition, the built-in auto flash automatically pops up in dimly lit or backlit situations. As a result, even first-time digital SLR users can immediately produce high-quality digital images with minimal effort.
2. Simple, accessible operation system
From the multi-function four-way controller to the responsive electronic Av/Tv dials and the large, easy-to-use mode dial, all switches and dials are efficiently and functionally laid out on the *ist DL's compact body for flawless fingertip control. The ergonomically designed grip assures firm, comfortable hold of the camera.
3. Extra-large 2.5-inch color LCD monitor
The *ist DL's high-precision 2.5-inch color LCD monitor, with approximately 210,000 pixels, displays recorded images clearly and beautifully, even when the original image is magnified by 12 times using the digital zoom capability. It also facilitates image confirmation after shooting and menu selection during shooting and editing operations. The menu screen also provides an optimum color scheme between menu descriptions and background to assure easy reading under all types of lighting conditions.
4. Compact, go-anywhere design
The *ist DL features a compact, high-rigidity stainless-steel chassis and a compact, bright viewfinder combining the PENTAX-original penta-mirror and a newly developed focusing screen. Combining other advanced downsizing technologies, such as 10-layer electronic circuit boards and high-density packaging technology, it offers the outstanding portability as one of the world's smallest lens-interchangeable digital SLR cameras to accompany the user anywhere.
5. High-definition, maximum-gradation images with 6.1 effective megapixels
Thanks to its large, high-performance CCD image sensor (23.5mm by 15.7mm), the *ist DL offers 6.1 effective megapixels. Coupled with PENTAX's original image processing technology using a high-performance engine, it produces high-definition images rich in gradation and saturation. It also offers a choice of finishing touches between "bright" and "natural" to satisfy user preferences.
6. User-friendly guide screen
The *ist DL features a user-friendly, multi-data guide screen, which offers detailed description of shooting modes, displays drive, flash and white balance settings using text and sample photos, and presents a comprehensive list of all camera settings on the large 2.5-inch monitor.
7. High-precision 16-segment multi-pattern metering
The *ist DL incorporates a sophisticated 16-segment metering system to assure high-precision light measurement, even under complicated lighting conditions. It also offers center-weighted metering and spot metering for specialized applications.
8. High accuracy AF sensors
Featuring the advanced SAFOX VIII AF system incorporating three cross-type wide-area AF sensors, the *ist DL automatically selects the most appropriate sensor for a given subject. It also lets the user fix the sensor point on the middle sensor for specific applications. Using the menu screen, the user can select the preferred focus mode between Single AF, which locks the focus when the shutter release button is half-depressed, and Continuous AF,* which adjusts the focus to the subject's movement.
* This focus mode is available in the Auto Picture and Picture modes, only when the Action mode is selected.
9. 1/4000 second high-speed shutter
The *istDL incorporates a high-speed shutter unit, with a top speed of 1/4000 second and a top synchronization speed of 1/180 second, to assure greater visual creativity. The bulb setting is also available to accommodate extended exposures at night.
10. High-speed 2.8-frame consecutive shooting
The *ist DL records up to five images (at "best" image quality in JPEG format) consecutively at a speed of approximately 2.8 frames per second, allowing the user to capture a series of photos of the subject's motion.
11. Compatibility with PENTAX interchangeable lenses
The *ist DL offers the outstanding benefit of lens interchangeability, letting the user take advantage of the wide selection of PENTAX interchangeable lenses for use with diversified subjects and applications.**
** PENTAX K-, KA-, KAF- and KAF2-mount 35mm-format lenses can be used without an adapter or modification. PENTAX screw-mount 35mm-format lenses and PENTAX 645- and 67-system lenses can be used with an adapter. Some functions may not be available with certain lenses.
12. SD memory card compatibility
The *istDL uses the widely available SD memory card as its storage media, not only assuring high-speed recording and readout of image data, but also helping to reduce the camera body size.