Compared to...

For our standard studio scene comparisons we selected the nearest priced D-SLR competition from Canon and Nikon. (Prices correct as of March 2005).

Camera Price Sensor
Canon EOS 300D (Digital Rebel) $799 (Kit) 6 mp CMOS
Pentax *ist DS $899 (Kit) 6 mp CCD
Nikon D70 $1099 (Kit) 6 mp CCD

JPEG comparison or RAW ?

To keep a level playing field and avoid all of the variables involved in RAW conversion we always do our comparisons in JPEG mode, it's also fair to say that the majority of users will shoot more JPEG than RAW. During our test of the *ist DS it became clear fairly early on that there was a significant difference in resolution and detail between JPEG and RAW hence we have also included a couple of comparisons in RAW mode.

Studio scene comparison (vs. Canon EOS 300D)

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position within minutes of each other. Lighting: 2 x 800W studio lights with dichroic daylight filters bounced off a white ceiling reflector. All crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F). Camera settings:

  • Pentax *ist DS: Pentax 50 mm F1.4, Aperture Priority,
    ISO 200, JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters, Self-Timer
  • Canon EOS 300D: Canon EF 50 mm F1.4, Aperture Priority,
    ISO 100, JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Parameter 1), Self-Timer
Pentax *ist DS
Canon EOS 300D
ISO 200, 0.6 sec, F9
ISO 100, 1 sec, F9
2,492 KB JPEG (3008 x 2000)
2,748 KB JPEG (3072 x 2048)

Both cameras exhibit fairly similar tonal balance (the EOS 300D in it's default +1 contrast setting), color saturation is clearly quite a bit stronger on the *ist DS and there's also a slight hint of orange in some reds. The biggest difference is in sharpness and detail, the EOS 300D image appears much sharper and with better fine detail, we can clearly see elements which are difficult to make out in the *ist DS image.