Monday, May 29, 2006

*ist DL - 4th Day Impressions

So I've had and have been using my *ist DL for four days now. Here's what I've determined so far:

Image Quality
The difference between in-camera JPEG and RAW processing to TIFF/PNG -> JPEG for internet is not appreciable enough for me to continue spending an hour and a half for 47 images. Most of that time was, in fact, copying and processing, so I did almost NO correction or cropping to the images in the gallery below. I suppose that, in the event I have enough money to purchase a faster computer, the process may again become attractive. The Adobe-processed raw files have a more natural feel to them than the images that came out of Pentax's Photo Lab software, but Photo Lab's interface isn't a bear and a half, so it's a trade off either way. I think that, for now, I'll be happy with JPEG.

Camera Feel
The camera handles beautifully. It feels more solid than my ZX-L. It also weighs a lot more, which makes handling my 80-210 lens that much more difficult -- not only do I now have to cope with an effective 315mm max extension, but I also have to build up more strength in my fingers and wrists to hold the weight of the batteries and electronics. The good news is that the 16-45 lens is lighter than most of my M lenses it "replaces" in terms of focal lengths.

Operational Concerns
The camera is surprisingly nimble in terms of operation, even for someone like myself who wants all of the manual features available at a moment's notice. Everyone on the internet was ripping into Pentax for putting things like White Balance and ISO under a menu interface -- I find, however, that the function button coupled with a few clicks of the four-way controller is natural enough that I'm finding myself able to switch to higher ISO settings when necessary. I have the camera ordinarily set to go ahead and correct up to ISO 800, a setting at which there is virtually no noticable noise in "suitable" sized images for online publication. Today, since I knew I was going to be out in broad daylight, I went back to the camera-default 200-400 range. There were a couple shots, however, that were too dark. Changing took me less than two seconds and I didn't lose the shot as a result.

A sticking point for me - Compatibility for the M lenses I have. While I would be remiss in not calling the company out for leaving off the aperture simulator on the body, I must say that the use of the old M/K lenses is surprisingly straightforward and quick. Since the process hasn't been firmly documented anywhere else, here's how you use an old K/M (non-A/F/FA/FA-J/DA) lens on at least the *ist DL body:

1- attach lens
2- set camera mode to Manual
3- push the AE-L button on the back right shoulder of the camera body.
4- OPTIONAL - based on the shutter speed now displayed in the viewfinder, make whatever adjustments to aperture you think you need/can get away with
5- OPTIONAL, needed if step 4 taken - push AE-L again
6- take the picture

The results were pretty good, I must say. My 135 f3.5 took this picture for me. It's a shot that I got at wide-open aperture that I was too parkinson's to get with my 80-210 at f5.6. The quality is great, the operation was easy, and I think anyone questioning the use of old lenses (especially for open-aperture applications like wildlife shooting) can rest easy in the choice of a modern Pentax DSLR instead of a change in lens system.

The DA 16-45 f4.0 lens
The lens itself seems great to me. I wish it were a little faster, but all things said and done, the lens is a fine wide-angle replacement for me. One thing I like is the close-up focusing. I thought I would miss the difference between .33x and .25x (the difference between the kit 18-55 f3.5-5.6 and the 16-45), but with the FOV crop, the effective magnification is good enough for my tastes. I haven't tried any reverse work yet, but I may be able to stop engaging in that silly behavior for the most part. The 24 reversed may well be useless on this sensor, anyway, as its magnification was so great that I as much as required either very bright direct light or a flash (which I can't afford). This lens is good enough to see the segments of a butterfly's compound eyes, which is good enough for me. None of my other lenses can do this forward. I will say that a bit longer zoom range would be nice, but the wide angle more than makes up for it. The only problem with the lens is that at 16mm, the camera from front to back comes to be about 9-10 inches long, longer if you leave the hood on. A bit odd, as far as what I'm used to.

I couldn't have asked for anything better. The lack of the prism viewfinder is unimportant, as the internal view is great anyway. The missing "pro" features from the *ist D like Hyper-this and that don't matter to me, so I don't miss them. I "do" miss the vertical grip, but it's a feature I haven't had on any other camera, so I'm not sure how much use it would see. There's also the continuing issue of added weight, which isn't cool with my tiny hands. I'm glad I sprung for the expensive lens. I'm glad I sprung for the Extreme III SD card, as its read and write performance are better than the camera's. That's really the only downside - the lack of ridonkulous continuous shooting capability a la the D70s. I say oh well - given that I'm not using instant review at all and have limited my in-the-field review of shots to those that I don't have any reason at all to believe were worth keeping, I don't need a burst of 15 shots at once to review over the next minute and a half. I'd rather sit and watch the action unfold, and that's how I roll.

I recommend the camera! :-! now i'm an internet reviewer.

Susquehanna State Park


I took my side trip to Susquehanna State Park today. I saw zero osprey and very few birds in general, as is evidenced by the relative lack of bird photos in this gallery. I did, however, watch that guy up there catch and eat a fish before taking off for me. I didn't crop many of the pictures because there are a few I'd like to reload onto my camera's card and set some DPOF info to facilitate 8x12s, but yeah, they all should be under control.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

stupid camera


Yeah so I took a LOT more pictures today. Some of them are not so good, others are better. You were right about the 2x teleconverter, Josh - it'd probably make a fantastic portrait converter for a 35mm focal length lens, but it ruins my long zoom (which is probably only barely sharp enough for this application to begin with - most of the birds were taken with it).

The flowers, the butterflies, and the pictures of geese in a parking spot were all taken through my 16-45mm, most of them at about 45mm. That lens actually focuses so close that it's right in front of the glass. I guess .92 feet means .92 feet from the CCD, then.

Oh well.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

I joined the past


I got my camera. *ist DL + smc-DA 16-45mm f4.0 + 1GB SanDisk Extreme III card.

I took some pictures of some stuff to go along with it. Haven't had a chance to go looking for anything, but there you go.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A few thoughts

First: I ordered a camera yesterday at 3:30. It still hasn't finished processing. I had to verify a shipping address today. Bets on me receiving it before the K100D ships? (Shake reduction in-body will only cost me 700 with the kit lens, Josh -- too bad I want a camera now more than I want a better camera later.)

Jesus Duck
Isn't that special. It's the best out of the latest round of photos. Oh well.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Ever so close...

30k minus 1

That sure is a lot of 9s.

Is it bad that I feel worse about only being connected to 29,999 people than I do about "only having two friends at Maryland" or something?