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January 31, 2006 - On Thursday Pentax updated the **istDL with the announcement of the **istDL2. Pentax’s latest offering is nearly identical to the *istDL; both cameras have 6 megapixels, a pentamirror viewfinder with 96% coverage and a Natural-Bright-Matt II focusing screen, and a Pentax KAF mount. Both DSLRs have a built-in auto pop-up flash with a Guide Number of 15.6 (ISO 200), a sync speed of 1/180, and even identical dimensions and weights of 4.9 x 3.6 x 2.5 in. and 19.4 oz (loaded).
The similarities go further. Both cameras have TTL open-aperture 16-segment metering, with three metering options of multi, center-weighted and spot, and the typical +/- 2.0 EV compensation (in 1/2 and 1/3-stop steps). Both the old **istDL and new **istDL2 have options in 8 bit JPEG and 12 bit RAW, recordable to an SD card; both have an ISO range that extends to 3200, a shutter speed range of 1/4000 to 30 seconds (plus a bulb setting), and the same white balance options of Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten Light, Fluorescent Light (3 settings), Flash and Manual.
The burst modes on both the **istDL and **istDL2 move at 2.8 fps, the self-timer options are 12 and 2 seconds, and the LCDs are the same, with both at 2.5 inches and 210,000 pixels. The port and memory options are the same, with USB 2.0 and 4 AA batteries required (alkaline, NiMH or lithium). Even the quirky auto bracketing options are identical, with a range of +/- 1.5 EV in 1/2 steps, or a shortened range of +/- 1.0 EV in 1/3 steps.
So what’s the difference (other than the additional ‘2’ in the new camera’s name)? Firstly, the **istDL has an extra crop of scene modes, namely Night Scene, Surf&Snow, Text, Sunset, Kids, Pet, Candlelight and Museum. For some reason, Pentax felt the need to group these new modes in their own ‘Scene Mode’ category, rather than add them to the **istDL’s ‘Picture Mode’ category which already contained Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Action, Night scene portrait and Standard Flash-Off. ‘Scene Mode’ is also now listed as an extra separate exposure mode on the spec sheet (not to be confused with ‘Picture Mode’).
More notably, the **istDL2 has 5 auto focus points instead of the **istDL’s 3, a welcome addition and probably far more needed than the extra batch of scene modes. Even so, 5 points is nothing to get excited over; the extremely similar Samsung GX-1S sports 11.