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Pentax Limbos Under $1K Bar In Digital SLR War

Boulder, Colo — Pentax has become the second digital-camera vendor to introduce a digital SLR (d-SLR) with lens for under $1,000.

The *ist DS is a reduced-sized version of the company’s existing *ist D d-SLR, measuring 4.9 inches by 3.6 inches by 2.6 inches. It will be available in November for a suggested $999.95 with lens, and $899.95 without.

The 6.1-megapixel *ist DS is compatible with most of Pentax’s interchangeable lenses, and features a high-magnification viewfinder, a 2-inch LCD monitor, RAW image capture, PictBridge compatibility, USB 2.0 connectivity and an auto picture mode for automatically selecting the proper exposure setting. It sports a burst mode for capturing up to eight images at 2.8 frames per second (fps) and uses SD memory.

The *ist DS is equipped with a glass pentaprism viewfinder which provides 95 percent field of view and a 0.95x magnification. The camera features a viewfinder which Pentax claims is equal in size, clarity and brightness to viewfinders incorporated in conventional 35mm-format SLRs to enable easier focus confirmation.

Other features include a multi-function four-way controller, an electronic select dial, mode dial, a 16-segment metering system with center-weighted and spot metering, and 18 user-programmable custom functions. The camera draws power from either two CR-V3 lithium batteries or four AA-size batteries.

The camera’s 18mm-55mm lens, the Pentax-DA Zoom, will be available separately for $199.95.

The company also added two new Optio models to its consumer lineup. All feature PictBridge compatibility, USB2.0 connectivity and ship in October.

The Optio MX4 is a hybrid model, combing a 4-megapixel still camera with an MPEG-4 video recorder. It joins the 3-megapixel Optio MX, announced last month. It offers many of the same specifications of the MX, including a 10x optical zoom lens that can be used in both still and video recording.

The camera can record MPEG 4 video in VGA resolution at 30 fps to the length of an SD memory card. It uses a palm-grip to minimize hand shake and the low-reflection 1.8-inch LCD monitor can rotate through 180 degrees horizontally and 210 degrees vertically.

The MX4 has automatic scene modes and manual controls include shutter and aperture priority and metered manual among other settings. It offers eight digital filers for black and white, sepia, red, pink, purple, blue, green and yellow. It is compatible with an optional wide-angle conversion lens for an angle of view equivalent to a 27.75mm lens in a 35mm camera.

It will have a $499.95 suggested retail price.

The 5-megapixel Optio SV, also for a suggested $499.95, features a 5x optical zoom with a sliding lens system that retracts the lens fully into the camera housing, flush with the body frame, allowing the camera to maintain its 0.9-inch thickness.

Additional features on the Optio SV include a 1.8-inch LCD, mode dial, 12 automatic scene modes, manual exposure control including shutter and aperture priority, and super macro mode for focusing as close as 3 cm from the subject.

The SV can record movies with sound, uses SD memory, and offers five types of auto bracketing (exposure, white balance, sharpness, color saturation and contrast).