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Nikon D50 Bests Pentax Digital SLR


Our two digital SLRs were tested with their basic zoom lens, the one offered in the kit along with the camera body, but we obviously didn't restrict ourselves to just those. In evaluating their qualities and possibilities, we also used them with other lenses. For those who aren't familiar with the world of digital SLRs, this type of camera is sold without a memory card, with only the basic accessories (strap, USB and video cables), and possibly with a battery and charger. So a suitable memory card must first be purchased in order to use them. Naturally, resellers offer various packages containing different accessories. You'll need to make the call as to whether that makes sense, or if it's preferable to acquire each component separately.

Still Good Ergonomics

As is the rule for consumer/prosumer cameras, the D50 and istDL are on the small side as SLRs go. However, in both cases, handling remains very good, and your preference for one or the other will have to do with the size of your hands or your personal shooting habits. The Nikon is a little bigger and undoubtedly better suited to larger hands, and the Pentax to smaller ones, but it's possible to get used to either.

The overall design is identical on both models, with an informational display on the upper surface, a single control dial, an LCD display on the back, and a rotating mode selector on the left of the body. However, that resemblance conceals some major differences. The upper display is underused on the Pentax, since it's only informational; it's not used for making adjustments. Adjustments - such as the ISO sensitivity setting - are made by pressing a "Fn" (Function) button and using the rear display. On the Nikon, you have immediate access to adjustments with control via the upper display, which seems preferable to us. On the other hand, Nikon has stayed with a rear display that seems small by current standards, whereas Pentax has fitted its istDL with a 2.5" (6.35 cm) high-definition display, which is an obvious advantage for many operations.